Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Province looking to enhance support for victims of crime

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The provincial government is expanding help for victims, looking to ensure they have consistent access to support across the province.

The government, through a working group co-chaired by MLA for Lethbridge-East Nathan Neudorf and MLA for Airdrie-East Angela Pitt, 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.

“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,” says Neudorf.

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.

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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.
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,” adds Neudorf.

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. Neudorf says that 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.

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