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- Frequently Asked Questions
Please use these Questions and Answers as a guide, keeping in mind that every situation is unique. If you would like more information or clarification, please contact us.
- About the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime and our services
- What is an ombudsman?
- If the Ombudsman reports to the Minister of Justice, can he or she handle complaints against government departments objectively?
- What kinds of complaints can you address?
- How will you resolve my complaint about a federal government department, law or policy?
- What if I have a complaint that doesn't relate to a federal government department, law, policy or service?
- Is my information kept confidential?
- Can you provide legal advice?
- Victims' role in the criminal justice system
- Staying informed
- Parole hearings
- Financial assistance available to victims
How do I report a crime against me or someone else?
Please go directly to the police in your community. They will take down all the information you provide, conduct further investigations if necessary, and then decide whether a person should be charged with committing a crime. The police can charge someone with a crime if there are reasonable grounds to believe an offence has been committed.
About the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime and our services
What is an ombudsman?
An ombudsman is someone appointed by the Government to receive and review complaints made by citizens against government officials, agencies or departments. An ombudsman operates at arm's length from the Government to make sure that he or she remains impartial. The Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime reports directly to the Minister of Justice. Annually, the Ombudsman tables his or her Annual report to Parliament through the Minister of Justice.
If the Ombudsman reports to the Minister of Justice, can he or she handle complaints against government departments objectively?
Like all other ombudsman or oversight bodies, the OFOVC was specifically created to operate at arm's length from the Government, meaning that it makes decisions regarding its priorities and the work it undertakes independently. As a result, the Ombudsman and staff can review and respond to complaints and inquiries in an impartial and objective manner.
What kinds of complaints can you address?
The OFOVC can review most complaints relating to federal departments, laws and services that apply to victims of crime. For example, a victim might contact us if he or she:
- was not provided with information about the offender who harmed them, as set out in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act;
- was not treated with respect by a federal department or agency;
- was registered but was not notified of the release of an offender; or
- feels that Canada's laws or policies for victims of crime do not meet their needs.
There are some types of complaints related to federal departments and policies that we can not review, such as:
- decisions of the Parole Board of Canada (i.e. releasing an offender);
- a recommendation made by the Correctional Service of Canada to a parole board (i.e. support for release of an offender); and
- a decision of the Correctional Service of Canada to transfer an offender or authorize a release (i.e. temporary absence for medical care).
We also cannot review decisions made by a judge pertaining to an offender's sentencing and/or prosecution or complaints related to matters that fall under provincial jurisdiction, such as provincial compensation, police investigations, and violations of provincial victims' rights legislations.
If you are not sure whether your complaint falls within our mandate, don't worry. If we cannot address your complaint directly, we will happily help by connecting you with the appropriate agency or service.
How will you resolve my complaint about a federal government department, law or policy?
The OFOVC works closely with the victims who contact us to try to find solutions. However, because every victim's situation is different, the process may differ slightly in some cases. In every case, we will give all parties of a dispute an opportunity to be heard and will treat all victims, government departments and agencies fairly, with dignity and respect.
What if I have a complaint that doesn't relate to a federal government department, law, policy or service?
If your complaint does not fall within our mandate, we will do our best to refer you to the appropriate organization.
Is my information kept confidential?
All information we receive from victims is kept strictly confidential and is not shared with other organizations, unless the individual gives us permission to do so.
We will also use the experiences you share with us to better understand the issues facing victims in Canada. Based on this information, we may make broad systemic recommendations to the federal government on how it can change its policies or laws to better address the needs and concerns of all victims.
Can you provide legal advice?
The OFOVC is not authorized to provide legal advice.
Victims' role in the criminal justice system
Who is considered a
The law defines a victim as someone who has experienced emotional or physical harm as the result of a crime. Family members, legal guardians or dependants are considered victims when the victim is deceased, is a child, or is unable to act for him/herself due to illness or incapacity.
You are considered a victim of crime if:
- you have been harmed or suffered physical or emotional damage as a result of someone committing a criminal offence or
- you are a spouse, conjugal partner, relative of, dependent of or are responsible for a victim who has died or is not able to act for himself or herself (e.g., the victim is ill or is a child).
What are my rights as a victim of crime in Canada?
In Canada, there are both federal and provincial laws that apply to victims.
In federal legislation, victims' rights are recognized in the Criminal Code and in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. Under these, victims have the right to file and read a Victim Impact Statement at the time of sentencing an offender and to obtain certain types of information about the offender who harmed them.
For more information on your rights, please visit the
What is a Victim Impact Statement?
A Victim Impact Statement is a statement written by a victim that describes the harm done and, more generally, the effect that the crime has had on his or her life. Victim Impact Statements are given to the judge who will take it into account when considering the sentence an offender will receive. Victims Impact Statements may also be presented at Parole Board of Canada parole hearings.
What services does the federal government offer for victims of crime?
There are many departments and agencies that offer services or information that may be of interest to victims of crime. For more information, please visit our Resources section or contact us directly.
What other supports are available for victims of crime?
All provinces and territories provide services to victims of crime. For more information on the government services available in your province, please visit the victims' services section of our website.
Many non-governmental organizations also assist victims. Many provinces have a 1-800 number for victims of crime, which you can find in your telephone book or on the internet or you can find services in your area by consulting the Policy Centre for Victim Issues' Victim Services Directory.
I was victimized outside of Canada, can you help?
If you have been the victim of a crime outside of Canada please contact Consular Services.
For cases of physical or sexual assault, Canadian consular officials can:
- provide support in dealing with the emotional, social, medical, and legal consequences of the assault;
- assist in contacting relatives or friends;
- put you in contact with counselling services locally or in Canada;
- assist in meeting your basic safety needs; and
- ensure that a proper investigation is carried out and charges laid if the assailant has been identified.
In other emergencies, Consular Services also provide the following services:
- Assist in arranging an evacuation in the event of war, civil unrest, or a natural disaster, as a last resort ($ fee).
- Arrange help in a medical emergency by providing you with a list of local doctors and hospitals.
- Arrange for a medical evacuation if a necessary treatment is not available locally ($ fee).
- Comfort and assist victims of robbery, sexual assault, or other violence.
- Provide assistance in cases of missing persons or if a child has been abducted to another country.
In some cases, emergency financial assistance is also available to individual Canadians who are victims of specified serious violent crimes (homicide, sexual assault, and aggravated assault or assault with serious personal violence, including against a child) in a foreign jurisdiction for emergency situations of undue hardship where no other source of financial assistance is available.
This emergency financial assistance is available through the Victims Fund, which is administered by the Department of Justice's Policy Centre for Victim Issues (PCVI). For more information on Emergency Financial Assistance, including information on how to apply, visit the PCVI's website or contact them directly by email: Victims-Abroad-Fund-Manager@justice.gc.ca
How do I obtain information about an incarcerated offender?
In Canada, information about an offender is not automatically shared with the victim. Victims will only receive certain information about the offender who harmed them if they have registered with the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) or the Parole Board of Canada (PBC), and they requested it.
For more information about the types of information victims are entitled to receive, please see the Registering as a victim section of our website.
How do I register as a victim?
Registration forms can be accessed online at
http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/text/frmlrs/pdf/npb0031e.pdf (Correctional Service of Canada — Victim Request for Information) and/or
http://pbc-clcc.gc.ca/forms/pdf/pbc0031e.pdf (Parole Board of Canada — Information Request for Victims).
Completed registration forms may be emailed to email@example.com or mailed to the PBC.
How can I attend a Parole Board of Canada hearing?
Victims may attend hearings as observers or to present a Victim Impact Statement. To observe a hearing, complete and sign a Request to Observe a Hearing Form and submit it to the Parole Board of Canada. For more information, visit the Parole Board of Canada.
How do I find out the date of a parole board hearing?
Registered victims will receive notification of parole board hearings if they request it. Please contact the Correctional Service of Canada toll free at 1-866-806-2275 or firstname.lastname@example.org or the Parole Board of Canada toll free at 1-866-789-4636 or http://pbc-clcc.gc.ca/infocntr/factsh/factsh-eng.shtml#vic to find out how to register and how to receive financial assistance to attend a parole hearing.
How can I present a Victim Statement?
Victims have the opportunity to present a prepared statement directly to members of the Parole Board of Canada Board at a parole hearing. A victim may also choose to present his/her statement on audio, videotape, CD or DVD rather than in-person.
To present a statement a victim must submit a written request to the Parole Board of Canada in the region where the hearing will take place. A Request to Present a Victim Statement at a Hearing Form can be downloaded at http://pbc-clcc.gc.ca/forms/form-eng.shtml. Any regional office may be contacted to find out where to send the request.
Financial assistance available to victims
Do you provide financial assistance?
The OFOVC does not provide any form of financial assistance or compensation.
- Federal financial assistance
For more information on the types of assistance available from the federal government, please visit the Funding section of the Department of Justice's Policy Centre for Victim Issues website.
- Provincial financial assistance
Some provinces have established criminal injuries compensation or financial assistance programs for victims of crime. Contact the organizations in your province or territory that can refer you to the criminal injuries compensation or financial assistance program in your region.
How can I apply for financial assistance to attend a sentencing hearing?
Victims registered with the PBC/CSC and approved to attend a hearing can apply to the Department of Justice's Policy Centre for Victim Issues (PCVI) to receive financial assistance to attend the hearings of the offender who harmed them.
PCVI administers a fund that provides financial assistance to victims and a support person to cover travel, hotel, and meal expenses, in accordance with current Government of Canada Travel Guidelines. As well, child or dependent care costs can be claimed. For more information, victims may contact the Victims Fund Manager by calling, toll-free, 1-866-544-1007 or visit PCVI's website.