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Welcome back, OFOVC Community. We hope you that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. The Ombudsman and team have had a busy few months meeting virtually with victims and stakeholders, writing recommendation letters, and organizing the launch of the Ombudsman’s Progress Report on the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (CVBR). Read about it all below! In addition, as always – we remain open and available to serve you.

Events and Engagements with Stakeholders

Indigenous Advisory CircleImage: The OFOVC meeting virtually with the Indigenous Advisory Circle on October 28th, 2020.

In September, the OFOVC’s Communications team along with the other federal ombudsman offices presented to parliamentarians and their staff, to inform them about the resources and services that we offer. This allows parliamentarians to better serve their constituents. In October, the Ombudsman presented on the 2020 British Columbia Justice Summit Panel, which focused on alternatives to short-term incarceration. The Ombudsman participated to represent victims’ rights and survivors’ voices in the discussion, and discussed the wider use of restorative justice alternatives. The Ombudsman also gave a presentation on victimization and the law to Algonquin College Victimology students, sharing the many challenges victims face in accessing justice.  Following this, the Ombudsman and Executive Director met with the Honourable Carolyn Bennett to continue sharing the perspectives and input from the OFOVC’s Indigenous Advisory Circle (IAC), to support the development of the National Action Plan on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). They also met with the Honourable Bill Blair to discuss Clare’s Law, victims’ services, police accountability, and violence prevention. At a meeting with the Honourable David Lametti, they talked about the CVBR Statutory review, minimum mandatory penalties, and elder abuse. To round out the month, the Ombudsman and Executive Director met with MP Randall Garrison, who introduced the Private Member’s Bill C-247, which proposes to create a new criminal offence for controlling or coercive conduct in an intimate relationship. The OFOVC has actively called for the recognition of coercive control in the Criminal Code, and we commend MP Garrison’s work.

To mark the start of Victims and Survivors of Crime Week on November 23rd, the Ombudsman delivered a Moment of Reflection. The theme for this year was Recognizing Courage, Renewing Commitment, and the Ombudsman commended the incredible courage and resilience of victims and survivors, service providers and frontline personnel for their incredible efforts. She also took the opportunity to renew her own commitment to pursuing a justice system that better meets the needs of victims and survivors of crime. In line with the theme of Renewing Commitment, the OFOVC held a launch event during Victims and Survivors of Crime week to mark the release of the Ombudsman’s Progress Report on the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. More on this below!

SPOTLIGHT ON: Progress Report on the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (CVBR)

On November 25th, the OFOVC released the Ombudsman’s Progress Report on the CVBR, after an in-depth examination and assessment of Canada’s performance in upholding the rights that the Act provides.  The Progress Report was informed by our frontline work, and the lived experiences of victims and survivors who have reached out to our Office in particular. In the report, the Ombudsman provides 15 evidence-based recommendations that could strengthen the Act and empower victims and survivors of crime.

Screencapture from our Launch Event

Image: Screencapture from our Launch Event. From left to right: Top Row: Dr. Jo-Anne M. Wemmers, Executive Director Nadia Ferrara, Deputy Minister Gina M. Wilson. Middle row: Dr. Irvin Waller, Ombudsman Heidi Illingworth, Dr. Benjamin Roebuck. Bottom row: The Honourable Bill Blair.

In case you missed the launch event on November 25th, our Executive Director Nadia Ferrara moderated the session, which included the Ombudsman Heidi Illingworth, and a panel of esteemed speakers: Deputy Minister Gina Wilson, the Honourable David Lametti, the Honourable Bill Blair, Dr. Irvin Waller, Dr. Jo-Anne M. Wemmers, and Dr. Benjamin Roebuck.  All provided their own review of the Report. We would like to thank everyone who joined us for the launch event, and remind you that if you did attend, and have not completed the survey, there is still time - your input is very important to us.

We encourage all Canadians to write to their Member of Parliament to urge them to #ReviewTheVictimsBill. We hope you will join us in our call to action to strengthen victims’ rights in Canada.

Looking ahead

Research Papers

Our Academic Advisory Circle is hard at work – in addition to supporting the development of the Ombudsman’s Progress Report on the CVBR, they continue to share their research and expertise in victimization and the law. For more on research papers commissioned by the OFOVC, visit the Research Corner of our website. Coming soon is a paper by Dr. Benjamin Roebuck, Research Chair and Professor of Victimology at Algonquin College, on men’s experiences of victimization in male intimate partner violence. Be on the lookout for it!

Upcoming webinars

Once again, we want to thank everyone who participated in our CVBR Progress Report launch event. We are planning a webinar on February 3, 2021 to further discuss the CVBR and our recommendations – planning is underway – stay tuned for more!