People everywhere see our country as a remarkable place… one of the best nations in the world.
We're known for our openness of spirit and for the things we value - respect, fairness, dignity.
The rights and freedoms that define us as a nation are a treasured expression of our uniqueness.
Most of the time, we take all these things for granted. But in an instant, an act of crime can change everything.
In an instant, any one of us can become a victim.
It can be a shattering experience that leaves the individual bewildered, angry, frightened, lost.
In the wake of a crime, and even after the offender has been prosecuted, many victims continue to feel isolated and alone as they try to deal with the impact of staggering personal losses… as they try to comprehend what's happened to them and why.
It's a heavy burden that can change lives irrevocably. For many, the fear of compromised safety continues…and when the offender is released or placed on parole, the wound is opened… once again.
But this is Canada – a nation where the rights, safety, and welfare of victims must be equal to the rights others share… a nation where these rights must be a national priority. And that's where we fit in.
We're the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime.
It is our honour to work directly with victims, addressing complaints, informing people of their rights, linking them to programs and services, identifying issues, educating lawmakers and informing policymakers Our watchwords: Respect...Fairness…Confidentiality…Support…Access.
Through our work, we give victims a voice.
We work with the Federal government to bring people and systems together to make the kinds of changes that will give victims a new level of equality in the corrections and parole system.
Since the Ombudsman's Office was opened in 2007, we've learned a great deal – much of it from our direct contact with victims of crime.
And now, it's time to take what we've learned and help push for positive change – to reshape the rights of victims, and to work earnestly to build the tools and processes that will help them on their journey.
What does this mean?
It means changing our system so that victims of crime will be full participants,
bringing meaningful contributions and afforded all the rights and entitlements they deserve to ensure fair and equitable treatment.
It starts with helping victims get access to more information: automatically, securely, and without limitation on important items like offender transfers, deportation status, offender progress and more.
It continues with tangible supports: doubling the Federal Victim Surcharge and making it mandatory; relieving victims of the burden of having to chase down the monies awarded to them through restitution orders by looking at new ways to recoup these funds.
Finally, we are committed to helping victims have meaningful participation in the criminal justice process:
- Giving them the right to attend parole hearings
- Ensuring they are given reasonable choice and options as to how they can participate
- Ensuring that we meet their need to feel safe… respected… and that their voice is heard.
This is where we stand.
These are the changes we will work for on behalf of all Canadians.
Together, we will make real change in Canada, as we stand in a unified way behind neighbours, family, and friends who are victims of crime.
Together, we will make it possible for those who have stayed in the shadows to come forward in an atmosphere of respect and safety.
Together, we will shift the conversation.
Let's get talking about how to make Canada better for all of us… through our commitment to the support of victims of crime.