The government, through a working group co-chaired by MLA for Airdrie-East Angela Pitt and MLA for Lethbridge-East Nathan Neudorf, consulted stakeholders about a new victim assistance program and how to improve the current service delivery model. Based on this review, the working group made 19 recommendations to improve victim services and support in Alberta.
As a result, the government is establishing an enhanced suite of services and supports for victims of crime. This will address gaps in the current system and ensure victims have immediate access to the help they need.
“Victims deserve a system that protects and supports them from Day 1 and at every stop of their recovery. Navigating the aftermath of a crime can be complex and each victim’s healing process can be different, so we are making sure that wherever they may be in their journey or wherever they are in the province, they have access to the help they need when they need it. Victims will always be the priority.”
The new victim assistance program, starting Sept. 1, will:
- Give victims quick access to emergency financial assistance, such as emergency support for domestic violence victims and relocation assistance for human trafficking victims.
- Increase the 45-day limit on applications to two years.
- Increase counselling services to $12,000.
- Provide extended medical health benefits to victims with serious injuries.
- Provide additional financial supports to victims with severe injuries.
- Provide victims with court attendance reimbursement.
- Reimburse families of homicide victims for funeral expenses.
More consistent services
To ensure victims have consistent access to services across Alberta, program delivery is shifting to a four-zone model, which aligns with RCMP districts. This will improve the reliability, continuity and uniformity of service delivery across the province; increase professional supports for front-line case workers; and allow for greater flexibility and capacity to deliver services at the community level where they are needed the most. A new layer of centralized professional staff support will be created within each zone to provide strategic, logistical and administrative support to front-line caseworkers.
In the coming weeks, the government will continue to engage victim-serving organizations and other stakeholders, including Indigenous communities, on the best way to implement the new service delivery model. The new model will be rolled out in stages over the next year.
Current victim services staff will have the opportunity to apply to be victim case workers, and current volunteer advocates will be able to continue their involvement under the new model.
Prioritizing victims of crime
As part of the government’s commitment to prioritizing victims of crime, moving forward, the Victims of Crime and Public Safety Fund will be dedicated to services and supports for victims of crime. While the government will continue to implement public safety initiatives that deter crime and prevent Albertans from being victimized in the first place, funding for these initiatives will no longer be taken from this fund.
“The government must ensure help is accessible and available to victims as they navigate the aftermath of a crime. I want to express our deep gratitude to the many organizations and people across the province that participated in the review. We are pleased that Alberta's government has accepted our recommendations on how we can implement an approach that puts victims first.”
“Our review highlights the importance of having a sustainable model that not only ensures victims have access to the right type of services but also directs funds to where victims need it the most. We want to thank everyone who participated in the consultation and took the time to make sure we understand the experiences of victims of crime.”
“The change to a more regional approach will strengthen the program and ensure communities across Alberta will have the resources they need to support victims of crime. All areas throughout Alberta should continue to focus on creating inclusive and supportive communities for all peoples by ensuring we have services in place to meet their needs. Under the previous model, Sylvan Lake saw first-hand how communities were receiving far different levels of service, and we look forward to a more consistent approach for all Albertans.”
“We are pleased to support these changes to the victim assistance program aimed at enhancing access to services for victims of crime. For survivors of sexual assault, increasing access to timely, specialized and community-based support is critical for the health and safety of all our communities.”
“Working in a zonal model will help provide a more consistent and streamlined support system for the victims we serve. It puts the province's victim services teams all on the same page and ensures victims have access to the information and supports they may require anywhere in their service delivery zone.”
“The Alberta RCMP fully supports the regional model that has been developed, as it will create efficiencies that will truly benefit the victims of crime in the province of Alberta. As Alberta’s provincial police force, we have appreciated the opportunity to take part in the consultation process that has led to this redesign.”
The full report is available online.