Letter from Anne Kelly, Commissioner of Correctional Services Canada, in response to the Progress Report: The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights
Ms. Heidi Illingworth
Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime
P.O. Box 55037
Dear Ms. Illingworth:
I hope you have been keeping well during the pandemic. I would like to first express my appreciation for your commitment and service to federal victims of crime.
Thank you for your email dated November 26, 2020 that highlighted your Progress Report on the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. This is an important report and we are looking at it closely to inform how we can make improvements to the services we provide and the information we report publicly.
I would like to take this opportunity to both reiterate CSC’s commitments to victims of crime and provide you with a number of updates. As you know, we have been providing services to victims since 1992 and we are committed to treating with the compassion, fairness, and respect that they deserve. We serve nearly 8,700 registered victims and our results show that we are making a difference. I am very proud of the professionalism and tireless efforts of CSC’s staff to deliver compassionate, informed and prompt services to victims and ensuring they have an effective voice in the criminal justice system.
I am happy to report that CSC is concluding an internal audit of its Victim Services Program as well as a Compliance and Operational Risk Report of its victim’s policy (Commissioner’s Directive 784, Victim Engagement). Together, these reviews, along with your report card, will inform and focus our efforts moving forward to ensure we are providing victims with the best possible services, in accordance with legislation and CSC policies.
CSC has also launched a new internal national Victim Engagement Task Team between victim services and operations. The goal of this team is to make recommendations to our executive team on how we can better serve victims and achieve greater alignment between our different operational units. This work will help ensure greater consideration of victim concerns in how we make recommendations and decisions related to offenders.
As you may recall, the Parliamentary Secretary of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness launched a Communications and Outreach Strategy for Victims of Crime during Victims and Survivors of Crime Week in May 2019. CSC pursued many new communications activities to share information and engage with victims. As a next step, CSC will be developing a targeted outreach strategy to reach victims in Indigenous and Black communities. We believe it is important to ensure that we are making extra efforts to reach these communities to identify and work to eliminate any barriers. We are hoping to collaborate with our partner agencies in the Public Safety Portfolio and I welcome any advice or guidance you may be able to provide.
During Restorative Justice (RJ) Week, I was pleased to read your statement on restorative justice. Thank you for recognizing and expressing your support for CSC’s Restorative Opportunities victim-offender mediation program. CSC has placed a high value on RJ and we have invested in this initiative since 2004. Throughout the history of the program, we have always accepted all referrals to the program and are seeing positive outcomes.
Lastly, I also wanted to share that CSC is exploring the development of a multi-media digital project to share experiences, through the written and spoken word, visual arts, video or other forms of personal expression, of people who have participated in our restorative justice program. I know that you are also a strong supporter of restorative justice in the criminal justice system. We are open to ideas about how we can better share the outcomes of this experience with more victims.
In closing, I wanted to thank you for your continued collaboration with CSC and in ensuring that victims’ rights under the CVBR are upheld.
c.c. Kirstan Gagnon, Assistant Commissioner, Communications and Engagement
Katherine Cole, Director, Citizen Engagement