BC Ecosocialists Propose Major Investment,
Reform of First Responder Education & Training

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020 – PRINCE GEORGE – The BC Ecosocialist Party, which promised five major policy announcements in solidarity with #DefundThePolice and #BlackLivesMatter, released its third major policy announcement on the issue, concerning first responder education and training. “A wide variety of professions do first response work, including child protection workers, psychiatric nurses, paramedics, firefighters and police officers. And yet their education and training on first response work is highly siloed in different education and training programs, associated with their respective professions,” explained Stuart Parker, a party spokesperson.

“We also need to recognize that first responder violence is bigger than the RCMP and local police forces. Systems like child protection are rife with the threat of colonial violence. Threatening to abduct children is just as coercively violent as placing a gun to the head of a young parent,” Parker added.

“Over the past five decades, BC has built an excellent polytechnic university system. Its ability to teach across disciplines and departments and to provide education tailored for key groups in BC is being underutilized. We believe that these institutions can be the foundation of a first response system that is trauma-informed, nonviolent and based on the best practices recommended by current social science,” stated Parker, a university professor who has taught in BC’s polytechnic system.

The BC Ecosocialists propose:

  • a co-funded endowment from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Office of the Solicitor-General and Ministry of Higher Education for a Centre for First Response at the BC Institute of Technology, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and Kwantlen Polytechnic University

  • funding to teach first response training for integrated, multidisciplinary classes to all professions with first response duties

  • trauma-informed courses in first response that emphasize nonviolence, non-confrontation and other approaches recommended by current social science

  • the centralization of all law enforcement officer training at institutions with a Centre for First Response and an end to training contracts and credential recognition with the RCMP and Justice Institute

  • a requirement that paramedical, social work and other training carried out at other institutions be supplemented by Centre for First Response training before a graduate may work in that field as a public employee in BC

  • government funding for current first responders to receive required supplementary training at a Centre for First Response within a set timeline of thirty-six months from the date of the Centre’s establishment

  • an explicitly feminist and anti-colonial approach to instruction that recognizes sexual and gender-based violence and the ongoing colonial violence of settler society as endemic in BC society

  • to work with regional colleges in the Southern Interior, Northern BC, and Vancouver Island to provide Centre for First Response programming throughout BC, prioritizing admission of currently-employed first responders seeking required training upgrades

“If we are going to change the whole culture of policing and emergency response in this province, we first have to change education, not just in terms of content, but institutionally and culturally. We need classrooms of firefighters, psych nurses, social workers and law enforcement officers thinking and learning collaboratively as the embryo of a new nonviolent service culture. Education is just one piece of the massive, society-wide reform we need but it is an indispensable one,” added party executive director Ash Manohar, a participant in the ongoing demonstrations advocating massive police defunding.

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For more information, please contact:

Stuart Parker                           604-368-1324
Ash Manohar                          ash.manohar@bcecosocialists.ca