NEWS RELEASE · 26th April 2010
Ministry of Public Safety
For the first time in B.C., health care facilities will be required to report gunshot and stab wounds to police, Solicitor General Michael de Jong, QC, announced today in introducing the Gunshot and Stab Wound Disclosure Act.
The new legislation is part of Premier Gordon Campbell's seven-point plan to combat gang and gun violence announced in February 2009.
"Timely reporting of gunshot and stab wounds to police will help them expedite their response so they can take immediate steps to prevent further violence, injury or death," said de Jong. "Mandating the rules for reporting means there will be consistent reporting of violent situations involving guns or knives across the emergency health-care system."
The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics reports that in B.C. for the period 1999-2008, 34 per cent of homicides were committed by a firearm and 25 per cent with a knife, cutting or piercing instrument.
Highlights of the act include:
* The requirement that all gunshot wounds be reported to police regardless of origin. Health professionals will not have to make any determination on criminality.
* Reporting of stab wounds will be at the discretion of the health-care facility so that they are not required to report accidental or self- inflicted wounds.
* Health facilities must verbally report the fact that the person is being treated, the patient's name and the name and location of the health-care facility where they were treated to the police, as soon as possible without interfering with the injured person's treatment.
* A definition of the types of health facilities that will be required to report, including, for example, hospitals, doctors' offices and walk-in clinics.
* Protection for health-care practitioners from liability while exercising their duty to report under this authority.
This legislation is the first of its kind in B.C. Three other provinces have chosen to mandate reporting of both gunshot and stab wounds - Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta. Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec have enacted only mandatory gunshot reporting.
Police in these jurisdictions have noted they receive information faster, which advances investigations leading to arrests and charges.
"The BC Medical Association is in full support of legislation that enhances public safety and prevents further injury," said Dr. Brian Brodie, president of the BC Medical Association. "We are glad to have provided input and are pleased that with mandatory reporting, physicians will be protected from any circumstances that might endanger their safety."
"We are working hard to end gang violence and remove illegal weapons and those who use them from the streets, said Deputy Chief Constable Clayton Pecknold, president of the BC Association of Chiefs of Police. "When health-care facilities report gunshot and stab wounds to police, we can move faster to make arrests and protect the public in those critical first hours of an investigation."
In February 2009, Premier Campbell announced a comprehensive seven-point plan to tackle gangs and guns in B.C., including more police officers, more prosecutors, more jails, tougher laws and measures to crack down on illegal guns. Since the strategy was unveiled, more than 200 organized crime and gang members have been arrested and charged with approximately 400 serious offences.