Canadians Victimized Abroad Fund
December 5, 2019
The Honourable David Lametti
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Re: Canadians Victimized Abroad Fund
Dear Minister Lametti,
Firstly, my congratulations on your re-election and re-appointment as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. I look forward to continuing our excellent working relationship in the coming years.
I originally sent this letter to you in the pre-election period and am resending it for your information. As you know, an important part of my mandate as the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime is identifying systemic issues that negatively impact victims of crime, and recommending ways that the federal government can make its laws, policies and programs more responsive to the needs of victims and survivors in Canada.
Over the years, my Office has heard from victims about concerns relating to the limited financial support available to Canadians who have been victimized abroad. Recently, the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime (CRCVC), an agency that advocates for victims and survivors of crime in Canada, has been in touch with my Office regarding issues they have encountered in their work with victims and survivors who were victimized abroad. The CRCVC have raised this issue with the Victims Abroad Fund Manager within the Department of Justice, and have shared a copy of this correspondence with my Office.
Based on the information provided in the response from the Victims Abroad Fund Manager to the concerns shared by the CRCVC, the Canadians Victimized Abroad Fund has a maximum envelope available of $50,000 in financial assistance per victim. This includes $10,000 available for health and counselling, and up to $40,000 available for travel including costs associated with repatriation as well as travel back to a foreign jurisdiction to participate in trials. The current limits are set out in the Terms and Conditions of the Victims Fund, and therefore any changes must be approved by the Minister of Justice and Cabinet.
While I am very pleased to learn that the Canadians Victimized Abroad Fund now has a maximum envelope of $50,000 available in financial assistance per victim, the current limits set are not responsive to the unique needs of victims and survivors, leaving many individuals without access to enough financial assistance to help them recover.
Specifically, depending on individual circumstances, many victims will not incur additional travel costs, but are instead in grave need of financial assistance to cover continued healthcare costs resulting from their victimization, such as physiotherapy and counselling.
Physical injuries that result from violent victimization, along with invisible injuries such as traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder, entail significant out-of-pocket treatment costs that most victims cannot afford.
As such, I am writing to you to recommend that changes be made to the Terms and Conditions of the Canadians Victimized Abroad Fund, to ensure that the maximum envelope of $50,000 available be allocated in a more flexible way that meets victims’ needs and contributes to their resilience. The funds should be adaptable to an individual victim’s unique circumstances in the aftermath of victimization abroad, recognizing that restoring physical and mental health for victims is critical following the trauma arising from violence. I would welcome meeting with you to further discuss this matter and victim-centred remedies to this issue.
I look forward to your response and to working with you to continue to bring about positive change for victims and survivors of crime in Canada.
Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime
Cc Susan Fisher-Clément, Victims Abroad Fund Manager, Department of Justice