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Auditor warns of coming budget crunch for BC Coroners Service

VANCOUVER - B.C.'s auditor general says the provincial coroners service is doing a good job of investigating unexpected deaths, but his newly released report says budget cuts could hurt the agency over the long term.

Auditor general John Doyle's latest report concludes that the coroners service is efficient, effective and accurate when it comes to investigating deaths and holding inquests.

It points out that while the agency isn't meeting its 18-week target for investigations, it has been improving its timeliness.

But Doyle notes the B.C. government has cut funding in recent years, leaving the service with a current budget of $13 million a year compared with $14 million four years ago.

Doyle says that decrease, combined with increasing costs to actually investigate deaths, is hurting the agency's ability to do its job and raises the risk of "significant long-term repercussions."

The auditor also raises concerns about a lack of ongoing training for coroners and he says the agency currently does not have any plans to maintain and develop coroner expertise.

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