Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

April 22, 2015 11:44 ET

Government of Canada Holds Vancouver Symposium for 10th Annual National Victims of Crime Awareness Week

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - April 22, 2015) - Department of Justice Canada

Today, the Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, P.C., Q.C., MP for Delta-Richmond-East and Minister of National Revenue, on behalf of Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, welcomed participants to a federal symposium for the 10th annual National Victims of Crime Awareness Week (Victims Week). Participants at the federal symposium held in Vancouver included victims, victim advocates, victim-serving organizations, criminal justice system professionals and policy-makers.

The theme of the 10th annual Victims Week, "Shaping the Future Together," recognizes the actions taken by victims, dedicated criminal justice professionals and volunteers, victim service providers, and all levels of government to shape a future that gives victims of crime a meaningful voice in our criminal justice system.

During her remarks, Minister Findlay discussed the significant and concrete measures that the Government of Canada has taken to ensure that victims have a more effective voice at the heart of our criminal justice system and are treated with the courtesy, compassion and respect for dignity they deserve at every stage of the criminal justice process.

A key measure taken by the Government of Canada was the introduction in April 2014 of Bill C-32, the Victims Bill of Rights Act, which would create clear rights for victims of crime at the federal level - a first in Canadian history. The Victims Bill of Rights Act is landmark legislation that would enshrine in law, once and for all, a bill of rights for victims of crime. It recognizes that victims deserve - and should have a right to information, protection, participation, and a right to seek restitution. For too long, the rights of criminals have received more attention than those of their victims. The Government of Canada has committed to reversing that trend and to keeping our streets and communities safe for all Canadians.

Quick Facts

  • Victims Week is held each year in April to raise awareness about issues facing victims of crime and the services, programs and laws in place to help victims and their families.

  • For the 10th annual Victims Week, three federal symposia will be held across the country, including one in the National Capital Region (April 20, 2015), one in Vancouver (April 22, 2015) and one in Halifax (April 24, 2015). The symposia are day-long events that feature workshops and plenary sessions on victim issues.

  • An interactive map of all of the Victims Week events being held across the country is available at http://www.victimsweek.gc.ca/map-carte/events-evene.aspx.

  • As a strong advocate for victims of crime, the Government of Canada has introduced measures to protect Canadians and recognize the important rights of victims of crime, including:

    • Ensuring that Canada's most heinous criminals are kept behind bars for life (Bill C-53, the Life Means Life Act); and
    • Protecting our children from sexual exploitation and online crime (Bill C-26, the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act).

  • Additionally, many legislative measures introduced by the Government of Canada have already been enacted to protect Canadians and to effectively address the concerns of victims, including:

    • Protecting Canadians - especially youth - from online exploitation by prohibiting the non-consensual distribution of intimate images (The Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act); and
    • Repealing the "faint-hope" clause for murderers to spare families of victims the pain of reliving their losses over and over again through repeated parole eligibility hearings (The Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act).

  • Since 2006, the Government of Canada has allocated more than $158 million to give victims a more effective voice in the criminal justice system through initiatives delivered by the Department of Justice Canada.

Quotes

"I am pleased to see so many people together in Vancouver to share innovative best practices that help us better respond to the needs of victims of crime. This 10th annual National Victims of Crime Awareness Week not only gives us the opportunity to discuss where we have been and the accomplishments we have made, but it also gives us an opportunity to explore what kind of future we can build together to make sure victims of crime have a meaningful voice at the heart of the criminal justice system."

Hon. Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, P.C., Q.C., MP for Delta-Richmond-East and Minister of National Revenue

"Addressing the needs of victims of crime has always been a top priority for our Government. Since Victims Week was first held ten years ago, we have taken many significant and concrete steps to protect Canadians and to recognize the rights of victims of crime. We will continue our commitment to supporting victims of crime and work with them to shape a positive future in which they, their families, and all Canadians feel safe in their streets and communities."

Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Related Products

  • Backgrounder: National Victims of Crime Awareness Week 2015
  • Backgrounder: Government of Canada Accomplishments for Victims of Crime

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National Victims of Crime Awareness Week

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Backgrounder

National Victims of Crime Awareness Week 2015

National Victims of Crime Awareness Week (Victims Week) is held each year in April to raise awareness about issues facing victims of crime and the services, programs and laws in place to help victims and their families.

The 10th annual Victims Week is being observed across Canada from April 19 to 25, 2015, with the theme "Shaping the Future Together."

The theme "Shaping the Future Together" recognizes that:

  • Many victims are looking to move beyond their victimization and shape their own future. While all victims of crime define their experience differently, their victimization does not need to define them.
  • Throughout Canada, countless dedicated professionals and volunteers devote their time to shaping a better future for victims of crime. Victim service providers and criminal justice professionals give information and meaningful support to victims and their families at the community, provincial, territorial and federal levels to help victims as they navigate the criminal justice system. They strive to shape a future that includes effective and efficient services to victims of crime.
  • Over the past ten years, Victims Week has helped to shape the future for victims by raising awareness about the issues facing victims of crime and the services, programs and laws in place to help victims and their families. Through funding and collaboration with organizations that provide victim services, we are shaping the future together.
  • Canada has made significant advances towards shaping a future where victims are treated with courtesy, compassion, and respect they deserve while navigating the criminal justice system. By working together, all levels of government in Canada are helping to give victims of crime a more effective voice in the criminal justice system.

The Government of Canada, through the Department of Justice Canada's Victims Fund, provided funding of up to $10,000 to organizations to host events during Victims Week 2015. This year, more than 190 events are being held, including at least one in every province and territory. To view the complete list of funded projects and events, visit the Victims Week Map of Events at http://www.victimsweek.gc.ca/map-carte/events-evene.aspx.

For more information about Victims Week, including videos and testimonials, resources, and information about past symposia, please visit www.victimsweek.gc.ca.

Backgrounder

Government Actions to Protect Canadians and Recognize the Rights of Victims

The Government of Canada has introduced the following legislative measures, many of which have been enacted into law by Parliament, to protect Canadians and to recognize the rights of victims of crime.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act (Bill C-26)
(Introduced February 2014)
The Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act would require child sexual offenders to serve multiple sentences consecutively, one after another, instead of at the same time. It would increase maximum and minimum prison sentences for certain child sexual offences, and would create a High-Risk Child Sex Offender Database.
Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act (Bill C-13)
(Received Royal Assent December 9, 2014, effective date: March 2015)
The Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act protects Canadians, and in particular youth, from online exploitation by prohibiting the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. This type of cyberbullying can have devastating impacts on the victim and has been a factor in the tragic suicides of several Canadian teenagers.
Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (Bill C-36)
(Effective date: December 2014)
The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act makes it illegal for anyone to purchase sexual services while protecting those who sell their own sexual services from criminal liability, except in very narrow circumstances where the risk of exposure to children is high. To support this legislative approach, the Government is providing new funding of $20 million to support programming for those who want to leave prostitution. Together, the legislation and funding provide a comprehensive approach to assisting victims of sexual exploitation and protecting Canadians from the harms of prostitution.
Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act (Bill C-14)
(Effective date: July 2014)
The Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act better protects Canadians from not criminally responsible (NCR) accused persons, including those who are designated by a court to be at high-risk of committing future acts of violence. The Act explicitly sets out that public safety is the paramount consideration in court and review board decision-making processes relating to accused persons found to be NCR or unfit to stand trial. It enhances victim safety by, among other measures, ensuring that victims are notified, upon request, when such an accused is discharged and where that person intends to reside.
Citizen's Arrest and Self Defence Act (Bill C-26)
(Effective date: March 2013)
The Citizen's Arrest and Self Defence Act expanded the existing power to make a citizen's arrest. A property owner is now allowed to arrest a person within a reasonable amount of time after having found the person committing a criminal offence on or in relation to their property. It also simplified the law in relation to the defence of property and persons.
The Protecting Children from Sexual Predators component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10)
(Effective date: August 2012)
The Safe Streets and Communities Act amended the Criminal Code to better protect children from sexual predators by ensuring that the penalties imposed for sexual offences against children are consistent and better reflect the heinous nature of these acts, and by creating two new offences concerning conduct that could facilitate the sexual abuse of a child.
Identity Theft and Related Misconduct Act (Bill S-4)
(Effective date: January 2010)
This legislation provided police and justice officials with important new tools in the fight against identity theft. The Act created three new "core" Criminal Code offences targeting the early stages of identity-related crime, all subject to five-year maximum prison sentences.
Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
(Bill S-7)
(Introduced November 2014)
The Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act proposes to put an end to early and forced marriage, polygamy or other types of barbaric cultural practices.
Victims Bill of Rights Act (Bill C-32) (Introduced April 2014, effective date pending) The Victims Bill of Rights Act will give victims of crime a more effective voice in the criminal justice system across the country by creating, at the federal level, clear rights for victims of crime, such as the right to information, the right to protection, the right to participation, and the right to restitution.
Protecting Canada's Seniors Act (Bill C-36)
(Effective date: January 2013)
The Protecting Canada's Seniors Act better protects seniors by helping ensure tough sentences for those who take advantage of elderly Canadians. Evidence that an offence has had a significant impact on the victim due to their age - and other personal circumstances such as their health or financial situation - must be considered an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.
An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service (Bill C-22)
(Effective date: December 2011)
This legislation protects children from online sexual exploitation by requiring suppliers of Internet services to report online child pornography. It will help identify victims so they may be rescued and will improve law enforcement's ability to identify, apprehend and prosecute offenders.
Protecting Victims from Sex Offenders Act (Bill S-2)
(Effective Date: April 2011)
The Protecting Victims from Sex Offenders Act strengthened the National Sex Offender Registry and the National DNA Data Bank through the following fundamental reforms:
- Automatic inclusion of convicted sex offenders in the registry
- Mandatory DNA sampling for convicted sex offenders
- Proactive use of the registry by police
- Registration of sex offenders convicted abroad
- Notifications to other police jurisdictions when high-risk registered offenders travel
- Operational and administrative amendments to enhance registry operations
- Amendments to the National Defence Act
Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act (Bill S-6)
(Effective date: December 2011)
The Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act ensures a "life" sentence means a lengthy period of incarceration by effectively repealing the "faint-hope clause," which allowed murderers to apply for early parole. This legislation spares victims' families the anguish of attending repeated parole eligibility hearings and having to relive their losses over and over again.
Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act (Bill C-48)
(Effective dates: March and December 2011)
This legislation helps ensure that each life taken is acknowledged in the sentencing process and that those who commit multiple murders serve a sentence that adequately reflects the heinous nature of their crimes. For murders committed after December 2, 2011, it allows judges to impose consecutive parole ineligibility periods on individuals convicted of more than one first- or second-degree murder.
Abolition of Early Parole Act (Bill C-59)
(Effective dates: March 2011)
This legislation abolished the previous system of Accelerated Parole Review, which allowed those convicted of non-violent offences to obtain day parole after serving one-sixth of their sentence and full parole after serving one-third.
Standing Up For Victims of White Collar Crime Act (Bill C-21)
(Effective date: November 2011)
This legislation helps combat white-collar crime by toughening sentences for fraud, including a mandatory minimum penalty of imprisonment for frauds over $1 million, and by requiring judges to consider restitution for fraud victims.
Nuclear Terrorism Act (Bill S-9)
(Effective date: November 2013)
The Nuclear Terrorism Act enhanced the domestic legal framework to better respond to the threat of nuclear terrorism, including through the creation of four new offences, and fulfilled key international commitments Canada has made in the area of nuclear security.
Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act (Bill C-37)
(Effective date: October 2013)
The Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act amended the Criminal Code to double the victim surcharge and make it mandatory in every case without exception.
Combating Terrorism Act (Bill S-7)
(Effective date: July 2013)
The Combating Terrorism Act enhanced the tools needed to anticipate and respond effectively to acts of terrorism. It re-enacted the investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions provisions that had expired in 2007. It also created new offences of leaving or attempting to leave Canada to commit certain terrorism offences.
The Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10)
(Effective date: November 2012)
The Safe Streets and Communities Act amended the Criminal Code to prevent the use of conditional sentences including house arrests for serious and violent offences. A conditional sentence is a sentence of imprisonment that may be served in the community if certain conditions are met. The amendments provided an expanded and clear list of offences for which conditional sentences are not available.
The Targeting Serious Drug Crime component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10)
(Effective date: November 2012)
The Safe Streets and Communities Act amended the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) to address serious organized drug crime. The CDSA now provides mandatory minimum penalties for serious drug offences, including those carried out for organized crime purposes and those that involve targeting youth. The legislation supported the National Anti-Drug Strategy's efforts to combat illicit drug production and distribution and to help disrupt criminal enterprises by targeting drug suppliers.
The Protecting Canadians from Violent and Repeat Young Offenders component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10)
(Effective date: October 2012)
The Safe Streets and Communities Act included reforms to help ensure that violent and repeat young offenders are held fully accountable and that the protection of society is given due consideration in applying the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The Increasing Offender Accountability component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10)
(Effective date: June 2012)
The Safe Streets and Communities Act included amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that provide better support for victims of crime, increase offender accountability, and ensure that the protection of society is the paramount principle of corrections and conditional release.
The International Transfer of Offenders component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10)
(Effective date: May 2012)
The Safe Streets and Communities Act amended the International Transfer of Offenders Act to enshrine in law a number of additional criteria that the Minister of Public Safety may consider when deciding whether to allow the transfer of a Canadian offender back to Canada to serve a sentence.
The Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10)
(Effective date: March 2012)
The Safe Streets and Communities Act amended the Criminal Records Act to prevent the most serious criminals from seeking a record suspension (formerly called a pardon) and extending the period of ineligibility for applying for a record suspension.
Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act
(Bill S-9)

(Effective dates: November 2010 and April 2011)
The Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act gave law enforcement and the courts better tools to tackle auto theft and the entire range of activities involved in the trafficking of all types of stolen or fraudulently obtained property.
Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Shoker Act (Bill C-30)
(Effective date: March 2015)
This legislation and supporting regulations help control repeat criminal behaviour by ensuring that individuals comply with court orders prohibiting drug and alcohol use.
Truth in Sentencing Act
(Bill C-25)

(Effective date: February 2010)
The Truth in Sentencing Act limits the amount of credit courts can give for time served in custody prior to conviction and sentencing.
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and protection of justice system participants) (Bill C-14) (Effective date: October 2009) This Act provided important new tools to fight the threats posed to Canadians by organized crime. The Act made murders connected to organized crime activity automatically first-degree, created a new offence to address drive-by and other reckless shootings, and created two new offences of aggravated assault against a peace or public officer and assault with a weapon on a peace or public officer.
Tackling Violent Crime Act (Bill C-2)
(Effective dates: May and July 2008).
The Tackling Violent Crime Act strengthened the Criminal Code in the following five areas:
- Tougher mandatory jail time for serious gun crimes
- New bail provisions requiring those accused of serious gun crimes to show why they should not be kept in jail while awaiting trial
- Better protection for youth from adult sexual predators (by increasing the age of protection for sexual activity from 14 years to 16 years)
- More effective sentencing and monitoring to prevent dangerous and high-risk offenders from re-offending
- New ways to detect and investigate drug-impaired driving and stronger penalties for impaired driving
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (Bill C-19)
(Effective date: December 2006)
This legislation protects Canada's streets and communities from the harm caused by street racing by creating new offences that increase penalties, including mandatory driving prohibitions for repeat offenders.
Amendments to the DNA Identification Act (Bill C-43)
(Royal Assent December 2014)
Legislative amendments to the DNA Identification Act will enable the creation of a new national DNA-based Missing Persons Index (MPI). The MPI, one of five new indexes in the RCMP's National DNA Data Bank, will provide new tools for investigating missing persons, unidentified remains and criminal cases. One of the other new indexes, the Victims of Crime Index, will contain DNA profiles of victims of crime, which were submitted voluntarily by the victim and recovered from the scene of a designated offence or a place associated with the commission of a designated offence. By comparing a victim's DNA against DNA found at a crime scene, police will be better equipped to rapidly identify violent and serial offenders, link cases and provide investigative leads. This index could enhance investigations related to violent and serial offenders.

Private Members' Bills

The following Private Members' Bills have also been introduced in support of efforts to protect Canadians and to recognize the rights of victims of crime.

An act to amend theCorrections and Conditional Release Act(Accountability of Offenders)(BillC-350)
(Introduced November 17, 2011)
This bill would amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to provide that any monetary amount awarded to an offender pursuant to a legal action or proceeding against Her Majesty in right of Canada would be paid to victims and other designated beneficiaries.
An act to amend theCorrections and Conditional Release Act(Fairness for Victims)(Bill C-479)
(Introduced October 16, 2013)
This bill would amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act in regard to the parole review of offenders who are serving a sentence of at least two years for an offence involving violence; the attendance of victims and members of their family at parole review hearings; the consideration of victims' statements by the Parole Board of Canada when making a determination regarding the release of an offender; the manner of presentation of victims' statements at a parole review hearing; the providing of information under consideration by the Board to a victim; the cancellation of a parole review hearing if an offender has repeatedly refused to attend or waived his or her right to attend previous hearings; the providing of transcripts of a parole review hearing to the victim and members of their family and the offender; and the notification of victims if an offender is to be released on temporary absence, parole or statutory release.
An act to amend theCriminal Codeand theCorrections and Conditional Release Act(Restrictions on Offenders)(Bill C-489) (Royal Assent June 19, 2014) The bill amended the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to provide that the releasing authority may impose any conditions on the parole, statutory release or unescorted temporary absence of an offender that it considers reasonable and necessary in order to protect the victim or the person, including a condition that the offender abstain from having any contact, including communication by any means, with the victim or the person or from going to any specified place. This enactment also amends the Criminal Code to require a court to consider making an order prohibiting certain offenders from being within a specific distance of the dwelling of the victim, and to ensure that the offender abstains from communicating with any victim, witness or other person identified in a probation order, or refrains from going to any place specified in the order, except in accordance with certain conditions.

Contact Information

  • Clarissa Lamb
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Justice
    613-992-4621

    Media Relations
    Department of Justice
    613-957-4207