Federal Ombudsman finds federal grant program for victims not meeting its objectives
Ombudsman calls for a more victim-centred approach
August 16, 2017 - Ottawa - Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime
The Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Sue O’Sullivan, today released her systemic review of the Federal Income Support for Parents of Murdered or Missing Children (PMMC) grant program established in 2013 by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).
The Ombudsman conducted the review because the PMMC grant was not being used to its potential, leaving important victim-support funding unused. She found that less than 1 percent of the amount allocated to help parents coping with the violent victimization of their child has been used.
The PMMC grant program was created to provide income support to parents who need to take time off work to cope with the death or disappearance of a child.
Overall, the Ombudsman found that the PMMC grant program should adopt a more victim-centred approach: demonstrating sensitivity to victims’ needs, and increasing access through incorporating a more flexible approach, reducing barriers to eligibility, and simplifying the application process.
The Ombudsman’s recommendations are aimed at making it easier to access the grant by:
- making it easier to understand the information about the process;
- simplifying the application process;
- making the program more flexible;
- broadening the eligibility requirements;
- removing barriers to access; and
- improving support for victims.
On broadening the eligibility requirements, for example, the Ombudsman noted that the PMMC grant is likely underutilized due to its rigid structure and narrow eligibility criteria. She recommended expanding the definition of ‘parent’ to respond to more families’ realities, raising the age limit for the victim (currently 18), and extending the PMMC grant to circumstances where the child was victimized outside of Canada.
“The PMMC grant should be more inclusive in terms of eligibility and reach,“ said Ms. O’Sullivan. “I have focused my recommendations around having the program adopt a more victim-centred approach and making it easier for victims to access the grant.“
“Today, we have a situation where victims and their loved ones, who bear most of the costs associated with crime, need support,“ said Ms. O’Sullivan. “Where there are supports in place we need to make sure they are inclusive, responsive and accessible.“
- Through its mandate, the OFOVC is tasked with identifying and reviewing emerging and systemic issues that negatively affect victims of crime at the federal level and promoting access to federal programs and services for victims.
- Available research indicates that victimization has significant socio-economic impacts on victims and their families.
- Original estimates were that the PMMC grant would provide assistance for up to 1,000 families per year, yet in its first three fiscal years of operation, only 28 applications were received.
- While $33 million was budgeted for this purpose from fiscal years 2012-13 to 2015-16, actual grant payouts to parents have been minimal, totaling just $223,300.
- The OFOVC helps victims to address their needs and concerns, identifies issues that impact victims of crime, and recommends ways that the federal government can make its laws, policies and processes more responsive to the needs of victims of crime.
Christina McDonald, Communications Manager
Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime