Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

April 27, 2009 09:19 ET

The Government of Canada Supports Victims of Crime

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 27, 2009) - The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety, today pledged to continue the Government of Canada's support for victims of crime as they launched the fourth Annual National Victims of Crime Awareness Week at a federal symposium in Ottawa.

"Supporting victims takes a collaborative effort, and this Government is committed to continuing to work with our partners to help victims of crime navigate the criminal justice system," said Minister Nicholson. "It is important that we all work together to ensure that victims of crime have a greater voice and more access to available services."

Minister Nicholson also announced the launch of a new online Victim Services Directory that will connect victims of crime with services available in their local communities. Developed by the Department of Justice's Policy Centre for Victim Issues, the directory lists more than 350 organizations from all across the country that provide services to victims. This valuable tool enables victims and family members to identify local services in their area. It can be found at http://victimservices.justice.gc.ca.

The theme of this year's National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, taking place from April 26 to May 2, is "Supporting, Connecting, Evolving." The week provides an opportunity to raise awareness about victim issues and about the programs, services and laws that help victims of crime and their families.

"This Government recognizes that crime places a heavy toll on individual victims, their families, communities and society-at-large," said Minister Van Loan. "We have been strengthening our policies and laws to improve public safety and I am pleased to be part of launching this fourth annual National Victim of Crime Awareness Week. This Week connects us to victim issues and highlights the need for our ongoing support."

The federal symposium, hosted by the Government of Canada, was attended by more than 200 participants, including victims, victim advocates, victim service providers, non-governmental organizations, and policy makers. In addition to the symposium, more than 80 communities across the country will hold events this week to support victims of crime and to raise awareness of victim issues.

National Victims of Crime Awareness Week is organized by the Department of Justice Policy Centre for Victim Issues, in partnership with Public Safety Canada's National Office for Victims, the RCMP, the National Parole Board, the Correctional Service of Canada, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, and a national organizing committee composed of victims, representatives of government and non-governmental victim organizations and victim service providers.

Further information can be found on the following Web sites:

National Victims of Crime Awareness Week

http://www.victimsweek.gc.ca

Policy Centre for Victim Issues at the Department of Justice Canada

http://www.justice.gc.ca

National Office for Victims of Crime at the Department of Public Safety Canada

http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca

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BACKGROUNDER

THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA SUPPORTS VICTIMS OF CRIME

The Government of Canada has committed $52 million ($13 million per year over four years starting April 1, 2007) for a package of programs, services and funding to help the federal government and the provinces and territories respond to a variety of needs of victims of crime.

Addressing the needs of victims of crime in Canada is a shared responsibility between federal and provincial/territorial governments. For the most part, delivery of victim services is undertaken by the provinces and territories, as they are responsible for the administration of justice.

An overview of federal government programs and services follows.

The Department of Justice - Policy Centre for Victim Issues

The Policy Centre for Victim Issues at the Department of Justice provides a victim's lens for criminal law reform and policy development. The Centre works closely with other federal departments to ensure a consistent approach to improving the experience of victims in the criminal justice system.

The Policy Centre for Victim Issues has a broad mandate that includes:

- conducting research;

- raising awareness about the needs and concerns of victims;

- developing public information materials;

- consulting with stakeholders to identify areas of concern and options for law and policy reform;

- administering the Victims Fund, which supports victims through funding to provinces and territories;

- funding victim services organizations and providing limited financial assistance directly to victims so they may travel to National Parole Board hearings of the offender who harmed them; and offering financial assistance to Canadians victimized abroad.

The Department of Public Safety

The Department of Public Safety and its agencies also have responsibility for victim issues. The agencies include the National Office for Victims, the Correctional Service of Canada and the National Parole Board.

National Office for Victims

The National Office for Victims is a central resource for victims of offenders under federal jurisdiction. It offers information and support on federal corrections issues. As part of its mandate, the Office:

- operates a toll-free line, which victims may call from anywhere in Canada or the United States;

- provides referrals to the Correctional Service of Canada and the National Parole Board for specific enquiries;

- ensures that a victim's perspective is included in national policy development; and

- develops information products for dissemination to victims, victim service providers, and the general public.

Correctional Service of Canada

The National Victim Services Program of Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) provides services to and shares information with registered victims based on the legal mandate outlined in section 26 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

Each of CSC's five regions has a Victim Services Unit that provides front-line services to registered victims within the overall mandate of the program. The Program aims to:

- implement an enhanced model for service delivery to victims (30 full-time dedicated positions) based on a management structure at the regional and national levels and subject to an extensive evaluation and monitoring process;

- encourage victims of federal offenders to register and ensure that they receive timely information about the offender who harmed them;

- play an active role in developing initiatives to reach out to Aboriginal victims;

- engage in ongoing consultations with victims and victim advocacy groups in order to provide the best possible services to registered victims and to create forums for victims to have their voices heard within the criminal justice and correctional systems;

- promote partnerships with government and non-governmental agencies to strengthen CSC's capacity to respond to the needs of victims; and
- examine the recommendations in the report of the Independent Review Panel, A Roadmap to Strengthening Public Safety.

National Parole Board

The National Parole Board (NPB) is committed to providing victims with information in a timely manner, through a team of regional communications officers. As part of its mandate, the NPB is responsible for:

- assisting victims understand the conditional-release process;

- notifying victims of relevant information related to NPB hearings;

- providing an opportunity for victims to present impact statements at NPB hearings;

- providing an opportunity for observers, including victims, to attend NPB hearings;

- providing, upon written request, a copy of NPB decisions;

- delivering community outreach programs to enhance awareness of NPB's role within the criminal justice system.

NPB has also recently developed a virtual tour of a parole hearing for their Web site.

Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime

The Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime is a new, independent resource for victims in Canada. The Office was created in 2007 to ensure the federal government meets its responsibilities to victims of crime.

Victims of crime can contact the Office to learn more about their rights under federal law and the programs and services available to them, or to make a complaint about any federal agency or federal legislation that has an impact on victims. In addition to its direct work with victims, the Office also works to ensure that policy makers and other criminal justice personnel are aware of victims' needs and concerns. The Ombudsman can also identify and review emerging and systemic issues that may have a negative impact on victims and make recommendations to the federal government in this regard.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of Justice
    Darren Eke
    Press Secretary
    613-992-4621
    or
    Department of Justice
    Media Relations
    613-957-4207
    or
    Minister of Public Safety
    Chris McCluskey
    Communications
    613-991-2865
    or
    Public Safety Canada
    Media Relations
    613-991-0657
    www.canada.justice.gc.ca