Children of the victims of serial killer Robert Pickton will each be paid $50,000 as compensation for policing failures that allowed the Port Coquitlam pig farmer to prey on vulnerable women for years.
The $4.9-million deal between the provincial and federal governments and City of Vancouver provides the payments to 98 children of 67 missing or murdered women tied to Pickton and addresses a key recommendation of the Missing Women Inquiry led by Wally Oppal.
Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said the money offers a chance for victims’ families to improve their education, housing or other circumstances.
She acknowledged no amount can fully repay families for the loss of their loved ones.
“It’s a fair amount, it’s the right thing to do,” Anton said. “But we can’t compensate for the loss of a mother.”
The agreement is expected to settle a civil lawsuit brought by 13 families of victims.
Pickton was convicted in 2007 on six counts of second-degree murder and is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
He was arrested in 2002, but Oppal found better policing should have caught him years earlier, preventing the disappearances of many addicted Downtown Eastside sex trade workers whose DNA was later found on the Pickton farm.
Oppal cited the “intergenerational impact” of Pickton’s crimes and the need to break the hold of violence on families in recommending the compensation fund for children.
Anton said the province has fulfilled or is making substantial progress on three-quarters of the inquiry’s recommendations.
“I will always regret that we did not catch this killer sooner,” Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu said.
Both he and RCMP Dep. Comm. Craig Callens reiterated past apologies for the policing failures.
Callens said policing has improved on multiple fronts since the Pickton investigation.
He said another inquiry recommendation on improved police information sharing and analysis for serious crimes will be addressed when a new 24-hour real-time intelligence centre opens in May at the RCMP’s E Division headquarters in Surrey.