Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

October 23, 2013 10:00 ET

Government Announces New Measures to Benefit Victims of Crime

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 23, 2013) - Today, the Honourable Peter MacKay, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Central Nova, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Honourable Steven Blaney, P.C., M.P. for Lévis-Bellechasse and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, announced that the Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act will come into force on October 24, 2013.

The coming into force of this legislation makes convicted offenders more accountable to victims of crime by doubling the victim surcharge that offenders must pay, and ensuring that the surcharge is automatically applied in all cases.

"Our Government followed through on our commitment to double the victim surcharge and ensure that it cannot be waived," said Minister MacKay. "Our Government is sending a signal that offenders must pay for the harm they cause to victims and this legislation ensures that victim support services receive the funding that they require and deserve."

"Our Government is taking strong steps to keep our streets and communities safe, and part of that includes holding offenders accountable," said Minister Blaney. "Canadians deserve a justice system that sentences offenders in a way that reflects the severity of their crime and respects victims of crime. By making the surcharge mandatory, the Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act ensures that all offenders are held responsible for their actions."

With the coming into force of these amendments to the Criminal Code, the victim surcharge will be 30 percent of any fine imposed or, where no fine is imposed, $100 for a summary conviction offence and $200 for an indictable offence. The surcharge, which is imposed on offenders at the time of sentencing, is collected and retained by the provincial or territorial government where an offender is sentenced, and is used to help fund services for victims of crime.

The victim surcharge will be mandatory for all offenders. Those who cannot pay will be able to discharge the victim surcharge by participating in a fine option program or through alternative mechanisms, where they exist.

These changes build on the work the Government has already done to ensure that those who break the law are held fully accountable and sentenced in a way that appropriately reflects the seriousness of their actions; and to ensure that victims have a more effective voice in the criminal justice system. They are also in line with the Speech from the Throne 2013 commitment to introduce measures that will increase support for crime victims.

An online version of the legislation can be found at www.parl.gc.ca.

Internet: http://www.justice.gc.ca

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Backgrounder

Victim Surcharge

A victim surcharge is an additional penalty imposed on convicted offenders at the time of sentencing.

It is collected and retained by the provincial and territorial governments, and used to help fund programs and services for victims of crime in the province or territory where the crime occurred.

The coming into force of the Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act amends the victim surcharge provisions in the Criminal Code to double the amount that an offender must pay when sentenced, and to ensure that the surcharge is applied in all cases.

The surcharge will be 30 percent of any fine imposed on the offender. Where no fine is imposed, the surcharge will be $100 for offences punishable by summary conviction and $200 for offences punishable by indictment. In addition, the judge will retain the discretion to impose an increased surcharge where the circumstances warrant and the offender has the ability to pay.

The victim surcharge was first enacted in 1989 and was called the "victim fine surcharge." In 2000, two amendments were made to the surcharge provision, making the surcharge a fixed amount and making it mandatory unless it would cause undue hardship to the offender. Before the Increasing Offenders' Accountability to Victims Act, the amount of the victim surcharge had not been increased since 2000.

Previously, sentencing judges had the discretion to waive the victim surcharge when it could be demonstrated that its payment would cause undue hardship to the offender or his or her dependants. This legislation removes the waiver option to ensure that the victim surcharge is applied in all cases without exception. In cases where offenders are unable to pay the surcharge, they may be able to participate in a provincial fine option program, where such programs exist. This would allow an offender to satisfy a financial penalty ordered as part of a sentence by earning credits for work performed in the province or territory where the crime was committed.

These changes build on the work the Government has already done to ensure that those who break the law are held fully accountable and sentenced in a way that appropriately reflects the seriousness of their actions; and to ensure that victims have a more effective voice in the criminal justice system. They are also in line with the Speech from the Throne 2013 commitment to introduce measures that will increase support for crime victims. As the surcharge money is used by the province or territory where the crime occurred to help fund services for victims of crime, raising the victim surcharge amounts will benefit victims of crime.

Contact Information

  • Paloma Aguilar
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Justice
    613-992-4621

    Media Relations Office
    Department of Justice
    613-957-4207