OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 30, 2013) - Today, the Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, welcomed the vote in Parliament to pass the Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act. This legislation increases the accountability of offenders to their victims by doubling the victim surcharge they must pay, and ensuring the surcharge is applied to all offenders.
"I am pleased that the Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act was passed by Parliament today," said Minister Nicholson. "This Act will directly benefit victims of crime by increasing the funding available to victim services in the provinces and territories."
Under 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 amendments to the Criminal Code will make the surcharge mandatory for all offenders and will allow those who cannot pay to discharge the victim surcharge by participating in a fine option program or through alternative mechanisms.
The Increasing Offenders'' Accountability for Victims Act will come into force on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council.
These changes to the victim surcharge are in keeping with the Government's Plan for Safe Streets and Communities, one of four priorities identified recently by the Prime Minister. This plan focuses on holding violent criminals accountable, enhancing the rights of victims, and increasing the efficiency of our justice system.
An online version of the legislation can be found at www.parl.gc.ca.
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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 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. The term "fine" was dropped to avoid the interpretation that it only applied in addition to fines. The amount of the victim surcharge has not been increased since 2000.
The changes to the victim surcharge in this Bill are in keeping with the Government's priority of ensuring that offenders are accountable to victims of crime. 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 directly benefit victims of crime.
Currently, sentencing judges have the discretion to waive the victim surcharge when it can be demonstrated that its payment will cause undue hardship to the offender or his or her dependants. This Bill will remove 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.
Department of Justice Canada