By LISA JOHNSON, Calgary Herald Calgary Herald Staff WriterCalgary Herald staff WriterMay 5, 2018 12:29:55A coroners office employee who has worked on the death of Alberta’s Bellefontaine Examiner, who was found dead in a basement suite at the Royal Alberta Museum last year, will be eligible for a pay increase this year, the Alberta Coroners Service said in a news release Wednesday.
Annabelle DeCoutere, a career coroners officer who has spent the past two years on the case, was last paid $7.2 million in 2016.
DeCostere has been a career investigator with the Coronals Service for 12 years, the release said.
She was not the first coroner in the province to be paid more than the previous year’s average salary.
In 2017, a coroner in Thunder Bay earned $7 million.
In 2016, a coroners investigator in Fort McMurray, Alta., was paid $9.6 million.
The Alberta Coroner’s Service does not release salaries.
The salary increase was announced as the province prepares to pay a $1.5-billion budget for police and fire services this year.
It will also include $500 million in additional funding for youth programs, including a new pilot project to offer a 24-hour phone helpline to more youth in need.
The coroners’ office is expected to spend about $6.4 million on new equipment and services over the next two years, including hiring new coroners.
The increase is expected at a time when the province has been criticized for its budget-cutting, a trend the coroners service said is costing it money.
In addition, coroners are working on several other coroners-related projects, including an investigation into the deaths of two children who died after being dropped off in the basement of the Royal Alexandra Hospital.
The deaths were ruled accidental.