Overview of Federal Government Support to Victims of Crime
The Government of Canada has committed $52 million for a package ($13 million per year over four years starting April 1, 2007) of programs, services and funding to help the federal government and the provinces and territories respond to a variety of needs facing victims of crime across the continuum of the justice system and federal corrections.
Addressing the needs of victims of crime in Canada is a shared responsibility between federal, provincial, and territorial governments. For the most part, delivery of victim services is undertaken by the provinces and territories as they have responsibility for the administration of justice. A large portion of the new monies will be available to the provinces and territories through grants and contributions.
Overview of the new funds
The general overview of the new $13 million per year is as follows:
|Department of Justic||$7.6 million|
|Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime||$1.5 million|
|Department of Public Safety|
|Correctional Service Canada||$3.4 million|
|National Parole Board||$0.5 million|
(figures have been rounded)
Department of Justice
The Policy Centre for Victim Issues at the Department of Justice Canada is mandated to work toward improving the experience of victims of crime in the criminal justice system by engaging in legislative reform, consultation, policy development, research, and project funding.
The Victims Fund, which is a grants and contributions mechanism administered by the Policy Centre for Victim Issues, will be boosted by $5.75 million per year (the current Victims Fund budget is $2 million/year). The provinces and territories, who are responsible for the majority of victim services, will be the primary recipients ($3.8 million) for specific objectives including to provide financial assistance to victims to attend sentencing hearings in the province or territory, to enhance or expand services to currently underserved victims, and for the territories to provide emergency services to meet the gaps in service and assistance that may exist for victims.
The remainder of the Victims Fund (approximately $1.95 million) will be available for additional projects including limited emergency financial assistance for Canadians victimized abroad, a special project component that non-governmental organizations and provinces/territories can access for innovative new projects to help improve the experience of victims of crime in the justice and corrections systems, as well as a financial assistance component to provide travel assistance for a support person to accompany victims to parole board hearings.
Additional new Department of Justice (Policy Centre for Victim Issues) projects include a specific initiative for victims in the North and a victim survey through the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.
Assistance for Canadians Victimized Abroad
The Emergency Financial Assistance component of the Department of Justice Victims Fund will be enhanced to assist Canadians victimized abroad.
This component provides for limited financial assistance to victims of serious violent crime who may incur unanticipated or exceptional expenses resulting from their victimization, where no other source of funding is available. For example: air ambulance costs; travel costs to bring a support person to a victim who is hospitalized in a foreign jurisdiction, or travel costs for a victim to testify at a trial in a foreign jurisdiction.
Also, in partnership with Foreign Affairs Canada, Justice is developing new approaches for specialized victim assistance for Canadians victimized abroad. These victim services will be provided through our consular services in Canadian embassies.
Department of Justice New Victim Initiatives in the North
In remote, northern communities very few general services exist, let alone services for victims. In addition, the three territories have much higher victimization rates than the rest of Canada. Women and children are the main victims of crime in these communities. Additionally, police data show that rates of homicide in the territories are the highest in the country and that rates of sexual assault are higher than in the provinces. 1
The federal government has a unique role in the North. The Attorney General has responsibility for the prosecution of criminal offences and to provide court-based victim services.
More victim support in the Territories will be provided by doubling the number of victim-witness assistants (to 10), and funds will be provided through the Victims Fund to increase support to non-governmental and territorial victim service providers and other professionals in the territories.
Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime
Department of Public Safety
Correctional Service of Canada
To improve its victim services, Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) will establish new staff positions that will be assigned to provide services to victims on a full-time basis. Establishing full-time Victim Services Officers (VSOs) in the federal correctional system responds directly to requests from victims that CSC have staff assigned exclusively to serving them. Full time VSOs will be more responsive to victim needs enabling services to be provided in a more efficient and effective manner. These new resources will enhance services to victims and victim organizations.
National Parole Board
The National Parole Board (NPB) will implement new measures to enhance communication with victims and ensure consistency and quality in service delivery. Resources will support three main aspects: improving information sharing with increased outreach and enhancing access to information through improvements to the NPB's website; improving participation for victims by providing interpretation services in the official language of their choice at parole hearing and acquiring voice amplification systems for hearing rooms to allow victims to hear clearly; and training to NPB staff to ensure consistent and quality service delivery to victims.
National Office for Victims
Victims' involvement in federal corrections and conditional release has grown extensively over the last years. Public Safety Canada recently established a National Office for Victims of offenders under federal responsibility to enhance existing information services provided directly by the Correctional Service of Canada and the National Parole Board. The National Office for Victims provides a centralized mechanism for victims to obtain information and support on federal corrections issues and engages in legislative reform and policy development on correctional matters related to victims. Moreover, the National Office for Victims plays a leadership role on inter-departmental and inter-jurisdictional issues related to victims in corrections.
Operations for the National Office for Victims are funded through existing funds; no new funds will be allocated to the National Office for Victims.
- For more information on current Department of Justice initiatives for victims of crime, go to: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/pi/pcvi-cpcv/index.html
- For more information on current Correctional Service of Canada programs, go to: http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/victims-victimes/index-eng.shtml
- For more information on current National Parole Board programs, go to: http://pbc-clcc.gc.ca/victims/victims-eng.shtml
- For more information on the National Office for Victims, go to: http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/prg/cor/nov/nov-bnv-eng.aspx
- 1 Victimization and Offending in Canada's Territories, 2004-2005. Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Profile Series. Statistics Canada. October 2006.
Department of Justice Canada