OTTAWA (Ontario), October 22, 2009 - Canada's Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Steve Sullivan, today congratulated the Minister of Justice on proposed legislation that will enhance restitution provisions for victims of white collar crime. Mr. Sullivan cautioned, however, that while the proposed legislation is a positive step forward, it should not be limited to victims of financial fraud.
"I am pleased to see the federal government moving forward on important victims' issues like financial crime and restitution", said Sullivan."I am however concerned that the restitution piece of this new legislation applies only to victims of fraud. We need to ensure that we are supporting all victims who may have been devastated financially as a result of a crime."
Currently in Canada it is estimated that victims carry nearly seventy per cent of the costs of crime. Knowing the impact this can have on victims, Sullivan has pushed for change in Canada's restitution laws and practices since his Office's creation in 2007. He has made recommendations to the federal government to review restitution options, ensure more offenders are held accountable and bring a greater awareness to the importance of the victim fine surcharge - a court-imposed charge used to support provincial victims' services.
"Restitution is not about punishment; it is about balancing the scales,"says Sullivan."The financial fallout of a crime can be crippling for a victim. Restitution not only lessens the burden on victims, but it can encourage a sense of responsibility in offenders, and helps them to acknowledge the harm done to victims - two very important principles in rehabilitation."
The Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime helps victims to address their needs, promotes their interests and makes recommendations to the federal government on issues that negatively impact victims.
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