There’s exhaustion in Jo-Anne Landolt’s voice when she talks about the years of effort to have a law enacted in her niece’s honour.
Kimberly Proctor, was 18 years old when she was raped, tortured and murdered by two teenage boys in Langford in March, 2010.
Then 16-year-old Kruise Wellwood and 17-year-old Cameron Moffat were given matching sentences that included a decade-long ban on parole eligibility – which was denied Wellwood in May 2020, and waived by Moffat in 2019.
But even with both men behind bars, Landolt doesn’t feel the work is done. For years she’s been championing Kimberly’s Law – which has become the Safe Care Act – a piece of legislation crafted with the intent to prevent tragedies by intervening early and mandating counselling.
Since Kimberly’s murder, Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite introduced the Safe Care Act to the legislature twice.
After the second time, the premier’s office told Black Press Media that the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions was looking into involuntary admission legislation and what kind of services would be required.
But more than a decade after her niece’s murder, Landolt doesn’t feel the law has moved forward, and Thornthwaite, who was still working with the family on the Safe Care Act, lost her seat in the 2020 election.
“Our concern is that we’re not going to be going anywhere with the NDP,” Landolt said. “We’ve had major turnover with politicians with each election.”
The act calls on schools to implement threat assessment protocols for students who have engaged in threatening behaviours and mandate counselling and treatment for youths identified as high risk. Landolt also wants to see offenders over 16 charged with first or second degree murder automatically transferred to adult court and receive the same sentencing as adults.
Landolt said she was contacted by the premier’s office earlier in 2020 and hasn’t heard anything since.
“It isn’t a priority and it should be,” she said. “It was the 10th year anniversary in March and nothing is in place to stop this from happening again.”
On Dec. 8 the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions responded to an inquiry from Black Press Media by pointing to recent amendments to the Mental Health Act (Bill 22). Those amendments respond to youth substance use by providing a stabilization period after an overdose.
The ministry said it has reservations about the proposed Safe Care Act, namely its mandate of involuntary detainment.
“Stabilization care, however, is very different than the BC Liberals’ secure care proposal. It would use the court system to involuntarily detain youth for long-term forced treatment,” said a statement from Sheila Malcolmson, minister of mental health and addictions.
“We remain committed to improving after care for youth who have experienced an overdose and we look forward to further conversations before the bill goes any further.”
Malcomsom added: “Our government’s focus is on continuing to invest in treatment, prevention and early childhood initiatives to prevent challenges later in life. We have already taken a number of important actions to address the gaps in the mental health and addictions system for youth including integrated teams in schools to help young people who are struggling, doubling treatment beds for youth, and expanding the network of Foundry centres to 19 province-wide.”
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