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Frequently Asked Questions

Please use these Questions and Answers as a guide, keeping in mind that every situation is unique. If you would like more information or clarification, please contact us.

About the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime and our services

What is an ombudsman?

An ombudsman is someone appointed by the Government to receive and review complaints made by citizens against government officials, agencies or departments. An ombudsman operates at arm's length from the Government to make sure that he or she remains impartial. The Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime reports directly to the Minister of Justice. The Ombudsman tables his or her annual report to Parliament through the Minister of Justice.

If the Ombudsman reports to the Minister of Justice, can he or she handle complaints against government departments objectively?

Like all other ombudsman or oversight bodies, the OFOVC was specifically created to operate at arm's length from the Government, meaning that it makes decisions regarding its priorities and the work it undertakes independently. As a result, the Ombudsman and staff can review and respond to complaints and inquiries in an impartial and objective manner.

What kinds of complaints can you address?

The OFOVC can review most complaints relating to federal departments, laws and services that apply to victims of crime. For example, a victim might contact us if he or she:

  • was not provided with information about the offender who harmed them, as set out in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act;
  • was not treated with respect by a federal department or agency;
  • was registered but was not notified of the release of an offender; or
  • feels that Canada's laws or policies for victims of crime do not meet their needs.

There are some types of complaints related to federal departments and policies that we can not review, such as:

  • decisions of the Parole Board of Canada (i.e. releasing an offender);
  • a recommendation made by the Correctional Service of Canada to a parole board (i.e. support for release of an offender); and
  • a decision of the Correctional Service of Canada to transfer an offender or authorize a release (i.e. temporary absence for medical care).

We also cannot review decisions made by a judge pertaining to an offender's sentencing and/or prosecution or complaints related to matters that fall under provincial jurisdiction, such as provincial compensation, police investigations, and violations of provincial victims' rights legislation.

If you are not sure whether your complaint falls within our mandate, don't worry. If we cannot address your complaint directly, we will happily help by connecting you with the appropriate agency or service.

How will you resolve my complaint about a federal government department, law or policy?

The OFOVC works closely with the victims who contact us to try to find solutions. However, because every victim's situation is different, the process may differ slightly in some cases. In every case, we will give all parties of a dispute an opportunity to be heard and will treat all victims, government departments and agencies fairly, with dignity and respect.

What if I have a complaint that doesn't relate to a federal government department, law, policy or service?

If your complaint does not fall within our mandate, we will do our best to refer you to the appropriate organization.

What do you do with my personal information?

All information we receive from victims is kept strictly confidential and is not shared with other organizations, unless the individual gives us permission to do so.

We will also use the experiences you share with us to better understand the issues facing victims in Canada. Based on this information, we may make broad systemic recommendations to the federal government on how it can change its policies or laws to better address the needs and concerns of all victims.

Can you provide legal advice?

No, the OFOVC is not authorized to provide legal advice.