OTTAWA (Ontario) April 19, 2010 — Canada's first-ever Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Steve Sullivan, today marked National Victims of Crime Awareness Week by urging the Government to consider the importance of balancing funding for victims' programs and services with other government justice priorities.
"For decades, victims have fought to receive at least equal treatment in the Canadian justice system," said Sullivan.
"Though we've made some significant progress in this area, victims are still being short-changed. When you compare the amount we spend on offenders and victims, the difference is staggering. Obviously, expenditures for offenders will always be higher, but the proportions to me speak volumes to what victims have been telling us for years — that they feel marginalized by the current Canadian justice system."
While Sullivan agrees with the importance of keeping our communities safe, and is pleased to see the Government doing more to help victims and acting on many of his recommendations, he is also keenly aware of the incredible toll that crime can have on victims and the real need that exists for the programs and services to assist them.
"If even a portion of the increased funding for corrections measures went to help some of Canada's most vulnerable, the Government could fund a Child Advocacy Centre in every major city in this country. We could build shelters to help young people being sexually trafficked escape the streets where they are selling their bodies to survive. We could fund programs that focus on preventing re-victimization. There is so much we could do." explained Sullivan.
"I think we need to re-evaluate our priorities and ensure that victims receive the support and treatment they deserve."
Since its inception, the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime has pushed for the Government to amend legislation to better respect and provide for the needs of victims of crime. The Office's most recent report,
"Toward a Greater Respect for Victims in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act," makes 13 recommendations to amend current laws to strengthen victims' rights.
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.
Senior Communications Advisor