When the initial contact with a client is made, the OFOVC makes an assessment to determine whether it is an inquiry or a complaint. In response to inquiries, the OFOVC opens a file, provides the information requested and closes the file. For each complaint, a file is opened and a further assessment is made. If the assessment determines the complaint is outside the office’s mandate, a referral to the appropriate organization or mechanism is provided and the file is closed. If the complaint is within the office’s mandate, the case is reviewed and a solution recommended. If this leads to an early resolution, the file is then closed. If not, further recommendations are made and follow-up actions monitored until it is resolved, when the file is closed. If a victim’s concern falls outside the office’s mandate, a Complaint Review officer will refer them to the agency or organization best suited to assist them.
The OFOVC determined that the reasons for contacting the office were as follows: inquiries 220; complaints 174; inquiries and complaints 50; and those we were unable to determine 9.
The OFOVC also tracks the locations where files originate. Thus, in 2015-2016 the number of files opened originating from Newfoundland and Labrador was 2; from Prince Edward Island, 3; from Nova Scotia, 8; from New Brunswick, 8; from Quebec, 69; from Ontario, 154; from Manitoba, 6; from Saskatchewan, 13; from Alberta, 60; from British Columbia, 76; from Yukon, 2; from Northwest Territories, 3; and from Nunavut, 0; United States of America, 4; international, 13. The origin of 32 files was unknown.
The OFOVC also monitors the top five topics of interest to our clientele. In 2015-2016 they were: issues related to other levels of government, 316; victims’ rights, 150; victim assistance options 99; safety concerns 56; lack of victim services 21.
The total number of topics was 642.
*Note: A single file may have multiple associated issues, or topics
Following the coming-into-force of the CVBR, the OFOVC began monitoring requests for information or assistance related to the Act. In 2015-2016 the number of times victims raised these issues with OFOVC was as follows: right to information 35; right to protection 15; right to participation 14; right to restitution 2; and right to remedies 5.
The OFOVC classifies these cases according to the rights listed in the CVBR. However, one case may involve several aspects of the CVBR. Although the OFOVC is committed to ensuring that its data is standardized and consistent, the interpretation and the classification of these cases are subjective.
Topic: Service standards
Recommendation by the OFOVC: The Policy Centre for Victim Issues and the Programs Branch at Justice Canada should implement reasonable and measurable service standards for processing applications from victims seeking funding to attend parole hearings.
Response from Justice Canada : Agreed. A database to be adopted government-wide in 2017 will allow more service standard measures to be tracked, and this should improve standards.
Topic: Better information
Recommendation by the OFOVC : Justice Canada should improve its online and print information concerning the financial assistance program for victims to attend parole hearings. This should clearly describe the application process, and explain how and when to contact program officers.
Response from Justice Canada : Agreed. Correspondence with victims will clearly explain that they must submit receipts or invoices to be reimbursed for expenses. On the toll-free line for victims, the recording will invite callers to leave a message and will indicate when to expect a return call.
Topic: Training for staff and managers
Recommendation by the OFOVC
Programs Branch staff and managers should receive ongoing training on changes introduced to improve client service delivery.
Response from Justice Canada : The Programs Branch has shared the OFOVC report with program officers. If required, the Branch will update the process map and give each officer a copy, listing the steps involved in processing and responding to individual files.
Recommendations by the OFOVC: Programs Branch managers should review all completed applications for financial assistance as soon as they are closed to ensure that they have been handled in a timely manner and that proper procedures were followed.
Response from Justice Canada: The Branch considers that management review of completed applications would prove burdensome to staff and could adversely affect service delivery. Instead, the Branch will continue reminding staff of the need to process applications in a timely and proper fashion, follow correct procedures, maintain departmental records, and ensure client satisfaction with the service provided. Managers and officers will be reminded that victims are entitled to use the Department’s complaints mechanism.
Recommendation by the OFOVC
The Branch should report back to the OFOVC on the implementation of these recommendations and the overall quality of service delivery every six months.
Response from Justice Canada: The Branch reports to the Minister of Justice. However, it could inform the OFOVC of changes to improve service delivery, such as new template letters, updates to the website, etc. After obtaining senior management approval, the Branch could also share results regarding service standards.
The OFOVC keeps track of expenditures by category. In 2015-2016 expenditures for salaries and wages were $918,071; for information/communications, $70,661; for training and professional dues, $8,287; for professional and special services, $60,871; for legal services $8,373; for translation services $23,180; for other services $29,318; for rentals, $4,075; for utilities, materials and supplies, $3,044; for acquisition of machinery and equipment, $720; for travel and relocation, $46,764; and for other, $3,061.
The total expended by Ombudsman’s office was $1,115,554. The total for corporate costs (controlled centrally) was $90,041.
Total expenditures were $1,205,595.
Note: Public Services and Procurement Canada covered the cost of occupying and maintaining OFOVC’s premises.