Section 6 - Recommendations

Recommendation 1: Continued Financial Assistance for Victims of Violent Crime

The government should continue providing financial assistance to victims of violent crime. The government should adopt the Victim Quick Response Program as the model to legislate a permanent early financial assistance program for victims of violent crime. The government should reconstitute the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board as the Criminal Injuries Financial Assistance Board ("the Board"). The Board would adjudicate applications for financial assistance made by victims of violent crime pursuant to a legislative framework similar to the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act.

Recommendation 2: Victim Advocate

The government should appoint a Victim Advocate who reports directly to the Legislature.

Recommendation 3: Individualized Assistance

Within the existing spectrum of victim services and programs, the government should provide victims of violent crime with individualized assistance to access appropriate victim services and programs and to complete applications for victim services and programs.

Recommendation 4: Single Application Form and Administrative Organization

There should be a single application form for both financial assistance programs. A single organization such as a newly constituted Financial Assistance Branch within a Victim Services Division of the Ministry of the Attorney General should be responsible for the administration of both financial assistance programs.

Recommendation 5: Police

(a) Notifying Victims of Services and Programs

The Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should develop and implement as soon as practicable a single province-wide protocol requiring police to notify victims of the appropriate local victim services and programs (including financial assistance programs) on a timely basis, which should lead to this requirement becoming a legislative provision.

(b) Information Sharing on a Timely Basis

The Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should develop and implement as soon as practicable a single province-wide protocol requiring police to deliver information required in respect of either financial assistance program on a timely basis, which should lead to this requirement becoming a legislative provision.

Recommendation 6: Performance Measures

The Ministry of the Attorney General should establish performance measures for both financial assistance programs and should regularly evaluate the programs against these measures. The performance measures for the Board should be established in conjunction with the Chair of the Board.

Recommendation 7: Annual Victim Services and Programs Report

The Ministry of the Attorney General should publish an annual report that is easily accessible by the public that:

  • reports on the victim services and programs that the Ministry either funds or delivers,
  • identifies the performance measures and evaluations of the Ministry's financial assistance programs, and
  • summarizes the revenues and expenditures from the Victims' Justice Fund.

Recommendation 8: Review of Victim Needs and Services

The Ministry of the Attorney General, in conjunction with the Victim Advocate, should conduct a review at least every four years of the needs of crime victims, how to best address these needs, and the availability and use of victim services.


Recommendation 1: Continued Financial Assistance for Victims of Violent Crime

Financial assistance remains the most effective way to provide victims of violent crime with practical as well as compassionate assistance. The unexpected expenses that often follow violent crime can create undue financial stresses and strains. Financial assistance can help to alleviate some of these and can also provide victims of violent crime with a greater measure of control over their lives. One victim advocate who has worked closely with victims of crime for many years stated: "Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy a fresh start."

The government should continue to assist with the financial needs of victims of violent crime through legislation that permanently establishes an early assistance program similar to the VQRP and an independent hearing process similar to the CICB. While the CICB is rooted in the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act, the VQRP is simply a creature of Ministry policy. Providing a legislative foundation for both programs would demonstrate the government's recognition of the important role financial assistance can play in the lives of victims of violent crime as well as its commitment to continue such programs in the future.

The legislation should contain a clear statement of the government's purpose in providing victims of violent crime with financial assistance, which purpose is to reflect societal compassion for the pain and suffering of victims of violent crime and to provide some practical assistance with the economic impact of crime. The legislative purpose, which has been curiously absent since the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act was enacted in 1971, would provide a transparent and public context for the design and reform of criminal injuries financial assistance programs, as well as a tool by which to evaluate their on-going operation. Further, victims will have more realistic expectations if the underlying purposes of the financial assistance programs are made clear in the legislation.

Those who work with crime victims have advised me that individuals who receive early assistance and services often will not require financial assistance in the future. It is therefore likely that the vast majority of victims of violent crime will choose to apply for financial assistance through an early VQRP process and the hearing process involving the Board will most likely be pursued by victims who suffer more significant physical or emotional injuries that result in long term needs. However, victims of violent crime should always have the option of choosing to apply for financial assistance through the hearing process and should not be denied access to it because they obtained early financial assistance, as long as there is not a double recovery.

Given that violent crime often has the most significant financial impact on those with already limited means, the legislation should eliminate any claw back or reduction in other social service benefits based on payments received from the CICB (or its successor) or the VQRP.

(A) Victim Quick Response Program as model for early financial assistance

There was unanimous praise for the VQRP among those I met, particularly for the expeditious financial assistance that is provided to victims of violent crime. By providing victims with early financial assistance for counselling, emergency home repairs, and emergency accommodation the VQRP may reduce the impact of the crime and increase the immediate safety of victims. As stated earlier, victims who receive early assistance and services will not often require financial assistance in the future.

The VQRP incorporates various factors that serve the interests of victims of violent crime well, and provides an excellent model for a permanent early financial assistance program. These factors include:

  • Payments are made very quickly, usually within a few days.
  • The financial assistance is predictable as the amount of money that will be paid, as well as the expenses covered, are clearly identified.
  • Payments are made directly to service providers, reducing the need for victims to attempt to co-ordinate and pay for emergency services themselves.
  • Victims can apply for the financial assistance throughout the province through a local VCARS agency, which will often be a victim's first contact with the Ministry-funded victim services and programs.
  • The financial assistance includes money for counselling.
  • The process is victim-friendly. There are reduced evidentiary burdens on the victim, with the victim's signed statement constituting sufficient evidence of the crime, the reporting of the crime, and the injury.
  • In order to be eligible for the financial assistance, victims of sexual or domestic assaults may report the offence giving rise to their injuries to institutions other than the police, such as hospitals, sexual assault centres, shelters or other agencies dealing with domestic or sexual violence.

However, there are three concerns relating to the VQRP that should be addressed. First, the VCARS agencies expressed concern regarding the limited scope of the eligible expenses. For example, the VQRP covers the cost of boarding up broken windows, but not the replacement costs. Prescription eyeglasses and dental costs are not covered. There is no emergency clothing allowance for victims forced to flee their homes quickly. Counselling funding of up to $1,000.00 may be insufficient for the immediate counselling needs of some victims of violent crime.

Second, there is also concern about the 14 day time period for applying to the VQRP. This is a very short period, particularly in the context of violent crimes. The period immediately following the crime is very traumatic for victims. Fourteen days is insufficient time within which to expect that victims of violent crime will be in a position to assess their needs or be able to fill out the necessary application forms.

Third, the decision-making responsibility is unclear, although formally it resides with the OVSS. 1 According to the OVSS, it received 641 VQRP applications in the first eight months of its operation, and denied only 39. However, VCARS agencies declared an additional 1,198 applications "ineligible" and therefore they were not received by the OVSS. The OVSS does not appear to monitor these ineligible applications or to have detailed information about why they were treated as ineligible by the VCARS agencies, although it is starting to look at this issue.

There will, of course, always be some administrative screening of applications required in any financial assistance program. However, declaring close to two-thirds of all applications to be "ineligible" is a form of decision making, without the review process that would be available if the OVSS had denied the application.

The Ministry developed the VQRP in a very short period following the Ombudsman's sharp criticism of the CICB and time constraints may have prevented consultation with victim stakeholders at the initial stages of the program development. Meaningful consultation with victim stakeholders and with the Victim Advocate is important on an on-going basis to ensure that any future early assistance program adequately addresses the needs of victims of violent crime.

(B) Financial assistance hearings

There was consensus among victim stakeholders that the legislative framework prescribed by the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act is generally appropriate and that it is very important that there continue to be an independent hearing process available to victims of violent crime.

The government should reconstitute the CICB as the Criminal Injuries Financial Assistance Board ("the Board"). The Board would adjudicate applications for financial assistance made by victims of violent crime pursuant to a legislative framework similar to the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act. The legislation establishing the Board should address the following matters.

(i) Written hearings

The Board hearing should be a written review by an independent adjudicator, but victims should be able to request an in-person hearing and the Chair of the Board should have the discretion to order an oral hearing in appropriate circumstances. This discretion recognizes that some victims would feel revictimized by an oral hearing, but also acknowledges that the opposite is true for many other victims who want the opportunity to relate what happened to them at a hearing.

(ii) Catastrophic injuries

One of the reform options that the Ministry has considered is for the CICB to hear applications only from victims of violent crime who have suffered catastrophic injuries. Catastrophic injuries are generally understood to be those that result in permanently life-altering physical or psychological disabilities affecting an individual's capacity to lead a normal life over an extended period of time. Focusing only on these victims would eliminate the vast majority of victims of violent crime. The Board's hearing process should be available to all victims of violent crime who have suffered emotional or physical injury, and not just those suffering catastrophic injuries.

(iii) Eligible expenses

The Compensation for Victims of Crime Act authorizes the CICB to award "compensation" for expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, support of a child born as a result of rape, and any other financial losses attributed to a victim's injury or death that the CICB determines is reasonable to incur. 2 These are all reasonable items to be considered in assessing a victim's financial needs and should be continued. It is also reasonable that lump sum or monthly awards continue, depending on the circumstances of each individual victim.

Counselling is recognized to be one of the most important needs of many victims of violent crime and for this reason past and future counselling expenses should be specifically recognized as eligible expenses in any legislation. The CICB currently reimburses previously incurred counselling expenses under its general authority to make awards in respect of reasonable expenses, but often requires victims to bring variation applications if they incur counselling expenses in the future. This procedure imposes unnecessary hardship on victims because they may not have the financial resources to pay for counselling costs, and because it requires them to engage the hearing process more than once.

(iv) Pain and suffering

Pain and suffering, which accounts for about 80% of the total payments issued by the CICB, is clearly a significant component of the Ministry's current financial assistance to victims of violent crime, and should not be eliminated. 3

In Arnold v. Teno, the Supreme Court of Canada acknowledged the challenge decision-makers face in assessing damages for pain and suffering:

The real difficulty is that an award of non-pecuniary damages cannot be "compensation". There is simply no equation between paralysed limbs and/or injured brain and dollars. The award is not reparative: there can be no restoration of the lost function. 4

While pain and suffering awards clearly cannot compensate victims of crime for their losses, such awards in the context of financial assistance programs for victims of violent crime provide an important gesture of societal compassion and acknowledgment of victimization and should be continued. Many of the people I met or who made submissions specifically raised pain and suffering, advocating for its continuation because it provides victims with much needed acknowledgement of their victimization as well as financial assistance.

(v) Emotional harm

The Compensation for Victims of Crime Act defines "injury" to mean "actual bodily harm and includes pregnancy and mental or nervous shock". 5 The CICB has adopted the common law approach to mental or nervous shock, which requires that victims of violent crime "must establish a psychiatric injury induced by shock relating to the violent occurrence." 6 It is abundantly clear that victims of violent crime very often suffer significant emotional injury. However, such emotional injury does not necessarily mean that they have suffered the kind of psychiatric injury that mental or nervous shock connotes. "Emotional harm" should replace "mental or nervous shock".

(vi) Pattern of Abuse

The CICB's current practice, based on the Evoy decision, is to treat multiple violent incidents by the same person against the same victim that are unrelated in time and place as separate occurrences, even where the incidents form an on-going pattern of abuse. This situation commonly arises in cases involving domestic violence or child abuse. While laying separate criminal offences in respect of multiple violent incidents makes sense from a criminal justice perspective, in the context of providing financial assistance to crime victims it is reasonable to treat multiple incidents as a single pattern of abuse.

(vii) Adjudicators to deliver decisions within 45 days

Lengthy delays in making decisions and in releasing decisions are obviously not in a victim's interest. It is reasonable to provide clear direction to the adjudicators that they are expected to resolve applications in a timely fashion and to stipulate the timeframe.

(viii) Applications not to await outcome of criminal proceedings

Delays also arise when an application is adjourned pending the outcome of any criminal proceeding. The Ombudsman found that waiting for trial outcomes has become the norm at the CICB, and expressed great concern about this. 7 I agree with the Ombudsman that tying financial assistance to the criminal justice process creates unnecessary delays and generally only exacerbates the toll crime imposes on its victims.

Concern was raised that the receipt of criminal injuries financial assistance will provide defence counsel with additional grounds to cross-examine a victim's motivation in the criminal trial and potentially damage his or her credibility, which would only serve to further deter victims from participating in the criminal justice process. It was also suggested that the logical outcome of a more expeditious financial assistance program is that fewer victims will maintain an interest in participating in the trial.

With respect, I do not share these concerns. A victim's application for financial assistance may give rise to a challenge to his or her credibility or motivation regardless of whether the decision to grant the application is made before or after the criminal trial. If the financial assistance application follows the criminal trial, defence counsel would be able to suggest that the victim is testifying in order to ensure that his or her future financial assistance application will be successful. And while I acknowledge that victims of violent crime may be reluctant to testify against an alleged offender in court, particularly in cases of sexual or domestic assault, I do not share the view that victims will abandon the criminal trial process simply because of the earlier receipt of financial assistance.

(ix) Benefit of the doubt to the victim

A victim-sensitive hearing process would give victims the benefit of the doubt where the evidence may be equally balanced. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 provides a useful example in the context of workers' interests:

If, in connection with a claim for benefits under the insurance plan, it is not practicable to decide an issue because the evidence for or against it is approximately equal in weight, the issue shall be resolved in favour of the person claiming benefits. 8

By enacting a similar statutory provision relating to crime victims, the government would send a clear signal that the hearing process is intended to be sensitive to, and respectful of, victims of violent crime.

(x) Offenders and alleged offenders not to participate in the hearing

Victims frequently mention the revictimization that they experience when they confront an offender or alleged offender during the criminal justice process. A victim-sensitive hearing process would reduce the potential for this kind of victimization by precluding the participation of the offender or alleged offender in a victim's application for financial assistance unless the Chair of the Board determines that the circumstances warrant such participation.

There are two reasons for the current legislative requirement to notify an offender or alleged offender of a hearing relating to a victim's application for financial assistance. 9 First, the subrogation right statutorily granted to the CICB, whereby it can pursue offenders or alleged offenders for any moneys paid to victims, gives an offender or alleged offender a financial interest in the CICB's proceedings. Second, an alleged offender has an interest in protecting his or her reputation given that he or she may not have been convicted of a criminal offence.

Both issues can be readily addressed. With respect to the subrogation issue, the subrogation legislative provision should simply be eliminated, thereby eliminating the offender or alleged offender's financial interest. The reality is that the great majority of offenders or alleged offenders do not have resources to make a subrogated action financially viable. Illustrative of this fact is that the CICB has not in fact pursued any subrogated actions for over a decade.

With respect to the reputation issue, a statutory provision could prohibit the publication of any information identifying the alleged offender in cases where there has not been a criminal conviction. Such a ban, along with the fact that the adjudicator's role is to determine if the victim suffered a criminal injury and not to determine the identity of the person who committed the criminal act giving rise to the injury, would balance the alleged offender's interest in protecting his or her reputation with the victim's interest in not being revictimized.

(xi) Board decisions

The CICB does not maintain an indexed database of its decisions nor are they easily accessible. While hard copies can be viewed at its Toronto office, this is not a practical option for many people and also is not particularly helpful in the absence of an indexed database. Indexing and publishing the adjudicated decisions in hard copy and electronically, with appropriate privacy safeguards, would increase the Board's public accountability, and would also serve to assist those appearing before the Board in their preparations.

(xii) Amount of financial assistance available through a hearing process

The Compensation for Victims of Crime Act authorizes the CICB to order a lump sum payment to a maximum of $25,000.00, or to order periodic payments of up to $1,000 per month to a maximum of $365,000.00. 10 There were submissions that the maximum amounts paid under the Act should be increased, noting that the lump sum maximum has not been increased since 1986 and the periodic payment maximum has not been increased since 1990. As well, the lump sum payment is significantly lower that the £500,000.00 that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority in the United Kingdom may award and the Au$50,000.00 that the Victim Compensation Tribunal in New South Wales, Australia may award. A regular review of the legislated amounts that the Board can order would be an appropriate approach to ensure that future amounts remain reasonable.

Recommendation 2: Victim Advocate

There is no single independent voice in Ontario mandated to speak on behalf of victims of violent crime. There is of course a great diversity amongst crime victims and they do not form an identifiable group. Similarly, there are a very large number of unrelated and diverse community-based victim support organizations. The OVC provides advice to the Attorney General, but does not have a mandate to engage in public advocacy. Even within the Ministry, there is a blurring of responsibility for victims' issues, with the OVSS having responsibility for V/WAP and for funding community organizations that deliver other victim services and programs; and the Ministry's Policy Division having responsibility for long-term strategic victim policy. Further, the OVSS, as an operating division of the Ministry, is not mandated to advocate on behalf of crime victims.

The interests of victims of violent crime would be significantly advanced with the appointment of a Victim Advocate responsible for a Victim Advocate Office and mandated to speak out on behalf of victims of violent crime. A Victim Advocate would have the ability to shine an early, bright and very public light on problems such as those that existed for so many years at the CICB.

It would be essential that the Victim Advocate be independent and for this reason the Victim Advocate should report to the Legislature. Having to report to the Attorney General could put the Victim Advocate in a position of conflict if the interests of crime victims diverge from Ministry policies. Having the Victim Advocate report directly to the Legislature would also reflect the importance of victim issues as well as the inter-ministerial nature of victim services and programs. While the majority of these fall within the scope of the OVSS, some victim services and programs remain the responsibility of other ministries. For example, hospital based sexual assault centres fall under the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and shelters for victims of domestic and sexual violence fall under the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

The Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth ("the Child Advocate Office") provides a useful advocacy model for a Victim Advocate Office. 11 The Child Advocate Office advocates at three levels. First, it engages in individual case advocacy and acts as a liaison between child and youth services and programs, and individuals who have not been able to locate the appropriate services and programs. Second, the Child Advocate Office provides program advocacy by identifying gaps or deficiencies in programs and services and by working with government departments and community agencies to implement operational reforms to remedy these gaps or deficiencies. Third, the Child Advocate Office conducts policy advocacy by researching systemic issues of concern to children and youth and advocating for policy and legislative reforms to address these issues. Each level of advocacy is linked to the other, with the individual case advocacy informing the program and policy advocacy and the policy advocacy eventually producing results that impact at the individual case advocacy level.

The most significant role for the Victim Advocate Office would be to monitor on a systemic basis victim needs and the programs and services available to meet these needs, and, where appropriate, to advocate for program and policy reforms. While there should be individual assistance to victims of violent crime at the local community level, a Victim Advocate Office could also provide useful back up to this local assistance and thereby reduce the likelihood that a victim of violent crime is left wandering alone through the network of victim services and programs. Further, it would be important that the Victim Advocate Office be in contact with local agencies to ensure that it engaged in program and policy advocacy that addressed the issues faced by victims at a local level. Additionally, the Victim Advocate Office could engage in public information campaigns regarding the availability of victim service programs, including financial assistance programs.

While a Victim Advocate Office would have to be adequately funded and staffed, it need not be a large bureaucracy. By way of example, the Child Advocate Office is a streamlined and accessible office that responds to thousands of inquiries every year with a staff of 12 advocates and four administrative staff.

Recommendation 3: Individual Victim Assistance

As stated earlier, victims of crime are often confused about which victim service is appropriate for them and by the volume of different application forms and other documents that must be completed in order to apply for the different victim programs and services. This only compounds the trauma and anxiety victims of violent crime already experience in the aftermath of crime. Victims of violent crime would be much better served by Ontario's extensive network of victim services and programs if they received individualized assistance in accessing them.

Currently, there are various referral services available in Ontario for crime victims. The VCARS agencies provide victims with referrals as part of their early crisis intervention and support work. The Victim Support Line provides telephone referrals to local community agencies. What victims of violent crime often require, however, is for someone to actually link them with the appropriate local community agencies beyond the crisis intervention that they may receive immediately following the offence. This assistance could include making phone calls on their behalf, setting up appointments for them to attend an agency, and assisting them with the necessary paperwork. As the father of a murder victim stated: "I had no experience being a victim. I didn't even know what I needed, let alone where to find it. I needed someone to tell me what was out there, then help me get it."

An additional layer of victim bureaucracy is not required to provide this individualized assistance. There is a wide spectrum of local community agencies currently working with crime victims throughout Ontario. The Ministry could enhance this work by funding the VCARS agencies, or other appropriate agencies, to provide victims of violent crime with on-going individual assistance. The relatively modest expenditure required would be outweighed by the significant and much-needed assistance to victims of violent crime.

Recommendation 4: Single Application Form and Administrative Organization

The interests of crime victims clearly would be better served if they could apply to both financial assistance programs through a single organization using the same application form and having to provide their supporting documentary evidence only once. Furthermore, the family members of the victim should be able to submit one application form on behalf of the whole family. 12

The Ministry should give serious consideration to having both financial assistance programs administered centrally through a newly established Financial Assistance Branch of the renamed Victim Services Division (currently the OVSS). The Financial Assistance Branch would be responsible for receiving all applications for financial assistance and supporting documentation, and would therefore be the main contact point for victims inquiring about their applications. It would be responsible for processing all the applications and arranging for the payments to victims. In respect of the early financial assistance program, it would liaise with community agencies as required and would make decisions to grant or deny applications for early financial assistance.

In respect of the Board process, some or all of the current CICB administrative staff could continue to provide administrative services to the Board as part of the operations of the Financial Assistance Branch. The oral or written adjudication of such applications would be within the sole purview of the Board, which would remain independent of the Ministry.

I have been left with the impression over the past few months that the CICB has often been viewed as an orphan of government and for this reason it would be useful to integrate the provision of administrative support to the Board with the Ministry's other victim services and programs. While there may be human resource and other operational implications of which I am unaware, this centralization would offer several benefits.

Aligning the administration of the Ministry's victim financial assistance processes with its other victim services and programs would encourage the cross-pollination of ideas and resources. It would also encourage a consistent approach to the delivery of both victim services and victim financial assistance. It would take advantage of the OVSS' existing regional presence throughout the province as well as its strong relationships with local community organizations delivering victim services. Finally, having the administration of all financial assistance programs fall directly within the purview of a single Ministry branch would be a way to ensure that unacceptable application backlogs do not again become the norm in the administration of financial assistance for victims of violent crime.

Recommendation 5: Police

(A) Notifying Victims of Services and Programs

There remains a long-standing concern about public awareness of financial assistance programs for victims of violent crime. For example, in 1985 the federal Ministry of the Solicitor General conducted a study of public awareness of criminal injury financial assistance programs, and discovered that only 13% of crime victims were aware of these programs. 13 The Ombudsman observed in his report that a very small number of victims of violent crime make applications to the CICB and recommended that the Ministry review its outreach initiatives to ensure that crime victims are made aware of their rights under the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act. 14 It was apparent during my review that public awareness of both the CICB and the VQRP remains low.

Police are often the first to a crime scene, and will usually meet with the victim at that time or soon thereafter. As the first point of contact, police are well positioned to provide victims of crime with information about victim services and programs. While some police forces in Ontario are already doing this, steps ought to be taken to ensure that all police in the province are consistently providing crime victims with information about the availability of victim services and programs, including financial assistance programs.

This already occurs elsewhere. For example, Manitoba's Victims' Bill of Rights requires police to provide crime victims with criminal injuries financial assistance information. 15 Almost half of the states in the U.S. require law enforcement officers to inform victims of criminal injuries financial assistance programs. 16

(B) Information Sharing on a Timely Basis

In deciding whether to grant an application, the CICB relies on information from the victim as well as various other sources, including the police. Where the victim has reported the crime to the police, the CICB will ask the investigating officer to complete and submit a two page questionnaire regarding the alleged incident. The CICB asks that the police officer return the questionnaire within 30 days, but this timeframe is often not met.

The Ombudsman noted that waiting for the return of police questionnaires often further delayed an already delay-plagued process and recommended that the CICB take steps to ensure that the police questionnaires are returned promptly. 17 The CICB is considering a pilot project to speed up the receipt of police information by permitting questionnaires to be shared electronically, with a view to possible province-wide implementation. 18 The receipt of police questionnaires remains, however, a general source of delay.

The United Kingdom has developed a Code of Practice for Victims of Crime that requires police to respond to similar requests within 30 days. 19 While this has not completely resolved the problem, there have been improvements. Adopting a similar approach in Ontario would be an important step to address the delays caused by waiting for police information.

Recommendation 6: Performance Measures

The Ombudsman reviewed in detail how the CICB processes its applications and made various recommendations for improvement. The CICB has since adopted new case management practices that are intended to speed up the application process and eliminate the existing backlog. What does not yet exist, however, are performance measures to evaluate the CICB's performance or that of the VQRP.

Setting performance measures for both financial assistance programs and conducting regular evaluations against them would be important tools to identify areas requiring attention before problems spiral to the extent that the CICB's did. The key aims and targets for the United Kingdom's Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority provide simple, comprehensive examples. They include targets for timely application processing, sensitive and courteous treatment of victims, effective communication and outreach, staff development and training, and accountability for public funds. 20

Recommendation 7: Annual Victim Services and Programs Report

While the Ministry, through the OVSS, funds or delivers many victim services and programs, it does not produce an easily accessible publication that lists them. A regular report would publicize what is an impressive array of victim services and programs, and give the Ministry some well-deserved credit for initiating and supporting them. By way of example, the Alberta government produces an annual Victims Programs Status Report that details the activities of the various community victim programs and provides a summary of the funding allocations for these programs from the Victims of Crime Fund (which is similar to the Victims' Justice Fund). 21 Saskatchewan publishes an annual "Saskatchewan Justice" report that includes a detailed summary of the activities and results relating to victim services. 22 It also publishes an annual audited financial statement for its Victims' Fund (which is similar to the Victims' Justice Fund). 23

An annual report of victim services and programs could also include the publication of the performance measures and the periodic evaluations for both financial assistance programs. This would inject a measure of public accountability into the provision of financial assistance to victims of violent crime, which is important given the Ombudsman's findings.

Finally, such a report should also summarize the revenues and expenditures relating to the Victims' Justice Fund. Many people have expressed great concern and confusion with the status of the Victims' Justice Fund. There is a widely held belief that the Ministry has allowed the Victims' Justice Fund to carry a significant surplus year-to-year. It is difficult to verify this belief because the Ministry does not provide any easily accessible public accounting of its spending from the Victims' Justice Fund.

The information that the OVSS provided shows that the Victims' Justice Fund has carried forward a surplus of over $50 million each year since 2001. While the OVSS advised me that these surpluses were "fully committed" each year, this does not address the issue that the expenditures out of the Fund each year were less than the Fund balance at the start of each year. On this subject the Ombudsman concluded: "[The Victims' Justice Fund] is posing as money expended on victims' rights, when in fact it sits, with its large surplus, as a little-used line item on the Government books." 24

I am troubled by the fact that the Victims' Justice Fund has apparently sat in a surplus position for so long without any real accountability to the constituency it is meant to serve. An annual public accounting for the monies in the Victims' Justice Fund ought to be made easily available.

Recommendation 8: Regular Review of Needs and Services

Victim services and programs should be informed by the needs of crime victims and what they find to be most beneficial to address those needs. These should be regarded as evolving matters. The unfortunate upsurge of Internet pornography is an example of why it is important for the government to revisit these questions on a regular basis in order to ensure that victim services and programs remain relevant. A regular monitoring of victims of crime and those who work with them regarding victims' needs and how to best address them would provide a meaningful yardstick to measure any gaps in victim services and programs and how to best address them.


  1. Ministry of Attorney General, Victim Quick Response Program Information Booklet (January 2008) at 6, online: http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/news/2007/20070713-vqr-bo-en.pdf.
  2. Supra note 16, s. 7.
  3. CICB 05/06 Annual Report, supra note 21 at 24.
  4. [1978] 2 S.C.R. 287 at 322.
  5. Supra note 16, s. 1.
  6. Manual of Practice for Board Members, supra note 34 at 29.
  7. Ombudsman's Report, supra note 1 at 43, paras. 153-155.
  8. S.O. 1997, c.16, Schedule A, ss. 119(2).
  9. Section 9(c) of the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act requires the CICB to serve the offender with 10 days' notice of the hearing "if it is practicable to serve him or her".
  10. Supra note 16, s. 19.
  11. The statutory mandate of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth is to advocate on behalf of children and youth who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act, or who are in provincial care or custody pursuant to the under the Child and Family Services Act, the Ministry of Correctional Services Act, or the Education Act, or who are in court holding cells or being transported to and from court holding cells. See Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act, 2007, S.O. 2007, c. 9, S.15.
  12. The Ombudsman also made this recommendation: See Ombudsman's Report, supra note 1 at 77, recommendation 12(a).
  13. Solicitor General Canada, Awareness and Use of Crime Compensation Programs (Ottawa: Ministry of the Solicitor General of Canada,1984), cited in Department of Justice Canada Policy Centre for Victim Issues, Criminal Injuries Compensation in Canada - A Status Report by A. Young (Ottawa: Department of Justice Canada, 2001) at 35.
  14. Supra note 1 at 56, para. 201 and 73 (Recommendation 5).
  15. Victims' Bill of Rights, SM 1998, c. 44, C.C.S.M. c. V55, s. 3(a) and (e)(i).
  16. Susan Herman and Michelle Waul, Repairing the Harm: Vision for Crime Victim Compensation in America, (Washington, DC: National Center for Victims of Crime, 2004) at 29, online: http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/AGP.Net/Components/documentViewer/Download.phpxnz?DocumentID=38573.
  17. Ombudsman's Report, supra note 1 at 37, para. 134 and 75 (Recommendation 10b).
  18. March 2008 Joint Quarterly Report, supra note 38.
  19. Criminal Justice System (United Kingdom), The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime at 9, ss.5.28-5.29, online: . The U.K. Auditor General, in a recent report on the performance of the Criminal Injures Compensation Authority, identified police reports as a source of delay, but noted that the Authority had been working with the police to reduce this delay. See National Audit Office (United Kingdom), Compensating Victims of Violent Crime, (London, The Stationary Office: December 2007) at 36, online: .
  20. The 2007-08 key aims and targets are found at Appendix 4 of the U.K.'s Auditor General's report Compensating Victims of Violent Crime, ibid. at 53.
  21. Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security, Victims Programs Status Report 2006/2007, online: http://www.solgps.alberta.ca/programs_and_services/victim_services/Publications/2007/2006-2007%20Victims%20Programs%20Status%20Report.pdf
  22. See for example, Government of Saskatchewan, 2006-2007 Annual Report Saskatchewan Justice, online: http://www.justice.gov.sk.ca/JusticeARJuly10.pdf.
  23. See for example, Provincial Auditor Saskatchewan, Victims' Fund Financial Statements for the Year ended March 31, 2007, online: http://www.justice.gov.sk.ca/VictimsFundFS-06-07.pdf.
  24. Ombudsman's Report, supra note 1 at 71, para. 260.

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