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Victim services in Canada

Federal victim services

There are many different types of victim services in Canada, offered by governments, police services, courts, volunteers, non-governmental organizations and more.

At the government level, victim services in Canada are a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments.

Federally, there are a number of departments and offices that offer specific types of information or assistance to all victims in Canada. For example, did you know that victims can register with the Correctional Service of Canada or the Parole Board of Canada and receive information about the offender who harmed them?

Correctional Service of Canada

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is the federal government agency responsible for managing offenders who have received a term of imprisonment of two years or more. CSC also manages correctional institutions of various security levels and supervises offenders under conditional release in the community.

Victims may register with CSC or the Parole Board of Canada (PBC). Once registered, victims will receive information on the correctional system and the offender who harmed them. This includes such information as the beginning and length of the offender's sentence as well as certain information about an offender's eligibility with respect to escorted and unescorted temporary absences from the correctional facility.

Victims can also provide CSC with information, such as a Victim Impact Statement, that is taken into consideration by Parole Board members when making various decisions such as deciding an offender's institutional security level, making recommendations to the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) regarding an offender's conditional release, deciding whether an offender should be released on a temporary absence or work release, and when evaluating an offender's program needs and overall risk of re-offending.

To learn more about CSC Victim Services or to register, please call toll free at 1-866-806-2275 or e-mail victims-victimes@csc-scc.gc.ca.

Parole Board of Canada

The Parole Board of Canada (PBC) is an independent administrative tribunal that has exclusive authority under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) to grant, deny, cancel, terminate or revoke parole for offenders.

The CCRA and its regulations direct the PBC to make parole decisions for offenders in federal (serving two years or more) and territorial institutions and for provincially sentenced offenders serving a sentence of less than two years in provinces with no parole board.

Information about an offender

As with CSC, victims can register with PBC to receive information about the offender who harmed them. Victims who are registered will be kept informed until the end of the offender's sentence, or until they ask to no longer be notified. The PBC Request for Information Form can be downloaded at http://pbc-clcc.gc.ca/forms/form-eng.shtml or by contacting any one of the regional offices at the toll free telephone number: 1-866-789-INFO (4636).

Reading a Statement

Victims have the opportunity to present a written Victim Impact Statement directly to the Board members at a parole hearing. A victim may also choose to present this statement on audio, videotape, CD or DVD rather than verbally.

To present a statement a victim must submit a written request to the PBC 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/victims/factsheet-eng.shtml#14. Any regional office may be contacted to find out where to send your request.

Victim Impact Statement

A Victim Impact Statement may include information that is relevant to assessing the risk to society an offender presents. For example:

  1. The continuing impact of the crime for which the offender was convicted or the act that resulted in a complaint with the police or the Crown attorney. This could include information about the physical, emotional, medical and financial impact of the crime on you, your children and family members and others who are close to you.
  2. Concerns a victim may have for the safety of his/herself, his/her family or the community with regard to the offender should he/she be released, explaining why he/she believe there may be a risk.

PBC employees are available to answer victims' questions about preparing a statement. The policy and guidelines regarding Victim Impact Statements presented at parole hearings are posted on the PBC's website at http://pbc-clcc.gc.ca/infocntr/factsh/factsh-eng.shtml#vic or you can call the victim's Info-line toll free at 1-866-789-4636.

Registry of Decisions

Since November 1, 1992, the CCRA requires the PBC to maintain a registry of its decisions along with the reasons for those decisions. The purpose of the registry of decisions is to contribute to public understanding of conditional release decision-making and to promote openness and accountability. Anyone may request, in writing, a copy of these decisions.

Anyone who demonstrates an interest in a specific case may write to the PBC to ask for a copy of the decision made in a case. A written request must be forwarded to the PBC regional office serving the area where the offender is imprisoned or under supervision (any regional office may be contacted to find out where to direct the request). The request must describe the reason for that interest; for example, the person making the request is a member of the offender's family; a community volunteer; the offender's assistant; the victim; the investigating police officer; a media representative; etc.

The Request for Registry of Decisions Form can be downloaded at http://pbc-clcc.gc.ca/forms/form-eng.shtml.

Policy Centre for Victim Issues

The Policy Centre for Victim Issues (PCVI) at the Department of Justice Canada is mandated to work toward improving the experience of victims of crime in the criminal justice system by pursuing a range of activities and initiatives to:

  • ensure that victims of crime and their families are aware of their role in the criminal justice system and the services and assistance available to support them;
  • enhance departmental capacity to develop policy, legislation and other initiatives which take into consideration the perspectives of victims;
  • increase the awareness of criminal justice personnel, allied professionals and the public about the needs of victims of crime, the legislative provisions designed to protect them and the services available to support them; and
  • develop and disseminate information about effective approaches both within Canada and internationally to respond to the needs of victims of crime.

PCVI engages in legislative reform, consultation, policy development, and research and administers a Grants and Contributions program.

Financial Assistance for Victims to Attend National Parole Board Hearings

Victims registered with the PBC/CSC and approved to attend a hearing can apply to 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 PCVIs website.

Emergency Financial Assistance for Canadians Victimized Abroad

PCVI's Victims Fund also provides limited financial assistance to Canadians who are victims of serious violent crime abroad who may incur unanticipated or exceptional expenses resulting from their victimization where no other source of funding is available.
The types of crimes eligible for emergency financial assistance are:

  • Homicide
  • Sexual Assault
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Assault with serious personal violence, including against a child.

For more information on the Fund or to download applications forms, visit PCVI's website.

The Policy Centre for Victim Issues does not provide criminal injuries compensation to victims of crime.

National Office for Victims

The National Office for Victims (NOV) is a central resource working to improve victims’ experience with the federal corrections and conditional release system. To do this it:

  • provides a “victim lens” on correctional policy development to assist victims in exercising their rights to information, participation and protection;
  • develops information products, as resources permit, for dissemination to victims and the general public aimed at increasing awareness so victims can better understand and navigate federal corrections and conditional release;
  • complements the work of the Policy Centre for Victim Issues through Public Safety Canada Portfolio coordination and engagement with victims, their advocates, and other stakeholders in order to ensure the NOV’s services and supports are informed by multi-sectoral coordination; and
  • considers the unique needs of victims in vulnerable communities, including Indigenous peoples when it undertakes the work outlined above.
Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime grant program

Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime grant program

A murdered or missing child is every parent's worst nightmare. When it becomes a reality, financial expenses and legal bills only add to such a stressful event.

The Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime grant is available to help parents who have taken leave from their employment while they are dealing with their tragedy.

For complete eligibility criteria and more detailed information about the Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime grant or to access the forms to apply for this income support grant, visit the Service Canada website.