Status: Received royal assent June 26, 2020
Ministry responsible: Justice and Solicitor General

Overview

The Victims of Crime (Strengthening Public Safety) Amendment Act has been passed to:

  • expand the scope of the Victims of Crime Fund to include public safety initiatives to deter crime and reduce victimization, such as Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT), the Rural Alberta Provincial Integrated Defence (RAPID) Force, drug treatment courts and hire more Crown prosecutors.
  • replace financial benefits for injury and witness-to-homicide with an interim program to provide new areas of support while stakeholders provide input on the development of a new victims assistance model.

The Victims of Crime Fund is financed by a mandatory fine surcharge imposed on a person convicted of an offence under provincial laws unless otherwise excluded in bylaws or regulations. The fine surcharge increased from 15% to 20% on April 1, 2020.

Key changes

The act will:

  • expand the mandate of the Victims of Crime Fund to include public safety initiatives
    • allow the Victims of Crime Program Committee to review and make funding recommendations for public safety initiatives, in addition to reviewing grants for victim-serving organizations
    • rename the Victims of Crime Act to the Victims of Crime and Public Safety Act, and Victims of Crime Fund to the Victims of Crime and Public Safety Fund
  • establish an interim victims assistance program to provide:
    • help with out-of-pocket expenses resulting from violent crime, such as emergency accommodation or protective measures
    • access to counselling for victims of serious violent crime and families of homicide victims
    • court support to victims and witnesses
  • eliminate the injury and witness-to-homicide benefits
    • remove the Criminal Injuries Review Board – which reviews decisions made under the Victims of Crime Financial Benefits Program regarding these benefits – after all open class action files are completed
    • victims would appeal subsequent decisions through a judicial review
  • give the courts discretion to vary or waive the victim surcharge

Victims of crime can continue to apply for the death benefit – which reimburses the families of homicide victims for funeral costs – and the supplemental benefit – a monthly payment to help victims with severe injuries requiring them to be dependent on others for basic functions and daily activities.

Next steps

  • The act took effect on June 26, 2020.
  • We are seeking input from stakeholders and Albertans as we develop a new victims assistance program to launch in 2021.

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