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Victims of Crime Fund

Chronic underfunding of programs & services for Alberta’s victims of crime

Our province’s Victim Services Units (VSUs) and community-based organizations that provide victim services desperately need long-term, sustainable funding. Although the Government of Alberta’s Victims of Crime Fund has been in place for more than 25 years, our province’s victim services have never been adequately funded. Every year, demand for programs and services exceeds the funding available.

Albertans may be surprised to learn that victim services are the only part of our criminal justice system that currently do not receive long-term, sustainable funding. Right now, victim services programs depend on annual grants from the provincial government’s Victims of Crime Fund and substantial community fundraising to continue operating.

The AUMA strongly disagrees with the provincial government’s decision to expand the scope of the Victims of Crime Fund to include funding for public safety initiatives. Alberta is the only province in Canada that does not restrict the use of its Victims of Crime Fund to services that support victims.

Alberta’s victims of crime deserve better. So do the organizations and individuals that work tirelessly to support and assist them.

What AUMA is doing about it

Members continue to voice their concerns to us that the provincial government’s interim program has drastically reduced both the eligibility for benefits, as well as the value of the benefits that are awarded. They have heard from police-based SVUs and community-based organizations, as well as from victims of crimes themselves, that the status quo is inadequate.

We are concerned that the Government of Alberta has not heard our members’ concerns and has not fully considered our key recommendations on this important matter. So, we are embarking on a letter-writing campaign in which AUMA members can raise their concerns with the Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) who represent their communities at the provincial level.

Participate in our MLA letter-writing campaign

The AUMA calls on the Government of Alberta to reverse its recent changes to the Victims of Crime Fund and provide ongoing, sustainable funding to victim services programs.

In partnership with the Alberta Police Based Victim Services Association (APBCSA), we have begun a letter-writing campaign to bring this matter to MLAs’ attention and raise public awareness.

Here are some tools to help you advocate effectively on behalf of Alberta’s victims of crime and trauma:

  • Customizable MLA letter template
  • Key Messages:
    • Alberta’s Victim Services Units (VSUs) and community-based organizations that provide victim services deserve long-term, sustainable funding.
      • While the Victims of Crime Fund has been in place for more than 25 years, victim services in Alberta have never been funded to a level that meets demand.
    • The biggest challenge VSUs and community-based organizations throughout the province face is securing adequate funding from the Government of Alberta.
      • Victim services are the only part of our criminal justice system that currently do not receive long-term, sustainable funding.
      • Right now, victim services programs depend on annual grants from the provincial government’s Victims of Crime Fund and community fundraising to continue operating.
    • The AUMA strongly disagrees with the provincial government’s decision to expand the scope of the Victims of Crime Fund to include funding for public safety initiatives.
    • Alberta is the only province in Canada that does not restrict the use of its Victims of Crime Fund to services that support victims.

Background information

Victims of Crime Fund

The fund was established through the Government of Alberta’s old Victims of Crime Act.  Revenues are generated by a 20% surcharge on all provincial and federal fines. The province increased the victim surcharges levied against convicted offenders on April 1, 2020. As a result of this increase, the Victims of Crime Fund rose from $40 million to $60 million per year.

Almost all police-based VSU programs in Alberta must fundraise so they can fund basic services to victims of crime – services that are guaranteed to all Canadians under the federal Victims’ Bill of Rights. Some programs must fundraise as much as 50% of their total operational expenses to continue operating from one year to the next.

This issue was highlighted in the 2016 Alberta Auditor General’s report, which stated that without improved management of the Victims of Crime Fund, “programs for victims of crime that are run by police-based VSUs and community organizations may not receive sufficient grant funding to deliver on the intent set out in the Victims of Crime Act.

Recent changes to Victims of Crime Fund

In June 2020, the provincial government passed Bill 16, the Victims of Crime (Strengthening Public Safety) Amendment Act. The Victims of Crime and Public Safety Act which came into effect in December 2020:

  • Expands the scope of the Victims of Crime Fund to include public safety initiatives. Alberta is the only province that does not restrict the use of its Victims of Crime fund to services that support victims.
  • Replaces financial benefits for victims with an interim program while the province develops the new victims’ assistance model.

Previous actions taken by AUMA

Members passed a resolution in 2018 that called for the Government of Alberta to use the Victims of Crime Fund to adequately fund provincial victim services units so they can provide the staffing levels required to assist victims of crime.

The AUMA submitted the following key recommendations in 2019 to the provincial government during its short consultation period:

  • The needs, concerns, and diversity of victims of crime should be centred in the development and delivery of programs and services, as well as in related education and training.
  • Programs and services for victims of crime need to be better advertised and coordinated at both the local and provincial level.
  • The province can assist victims of crime in accessing services by supporting rural transportation initiatives and leveraging technology to promote equitable access.
  • VSUs should receive adequate funding so that they can provide general information, needs assessment/service planning, and emotional support to victims, with mental health services for victims being prioritized.
  • The Victims of Crime Fund must be maintained as a distinct fund in order to fulfill its legislated purpose, and not be put into general provincial revenues.

Contact us:

Advocacy

780-433-4431

advocacy@auma.ca

Media Inquiries

communications@auma.ca