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Ombudsman statement on Victims and Survivors of Crime Week 2020

Victims and Survivors of Crime Week serves as an opportunity to pay tribute to those who have lost their lives to violence, and to their loved ones, who love and miss them deeply. I pay tribute to the victims and survivors who have faced violence, and acknowledge your suffering, while admiring your strength and resilience, which I witness everyday. I also take this opportunity to pay tribute to the victim service providers, anti-violence advocates, policy makers and criminal justice system professionals across Canada who work tirelessly to provide support, care and justice to victims and survivors of crime.

The theme for this year’s Victims Week is Recognizing Courage, Renewing Commitment. Those who work directly with victims and survivors know the courage victims display when they come forward to seek supports or accountability. We have also witnessed the courage of service providers and front-line professionals, who rose to the challenges that have come their way during this difficult year in order to walk alongside victims and survivors. I commend this courage. These circumstances serve as an ideal moment to renew our commitment to improving how victims are treated within our criminal justice system.

In 2020, we commemorate many important milestones: the 15th anniversary of Victims Week, the 20th anniversary of the Federal Victims Strategy, and five years since the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights came into force. When the legislation that created the CVBR was passed, it contained a requirement that a committee of Parliament be established to review the CVBR five years after its enactment. We have reached this date. I call on Parliamentarians to take the opportunity to evaluate the CVBR’s effectiveness and assess ongoing gaps and challenges that remain for victims of crime and those who serve them. On November 25th, I will be releasing the OFOVC’s Progress Report: The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights following my office’s examination of the Act.

With that said, a Statutory Review must take place, and our report could serve as a starting point for it. It is an integral part of the legislative process to examine the first years of experience under a new law’s operation. I believe a review of this critical piece of legislation can lead to better outcomes for victims and survivors of crime.

As Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, I take this moment to renew my own commitment to pursuing a Canadian justice system that is trauma-informed; one that includes the voices of victims and survivors; respects their rights in law; and provides them the holistic supports they need. I invite all those involved in our criminal justice system to renew their commitment to do the same.


Heidi Illingworth
Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime