Guidelines Related to Financial Assistance Provided to Victims to attend Parole Board of Canada Hearings

Feburary 2017

Table of Contents

1. Overview

The objective of the Federal Victims Strategy is to improve access to justice for victims and survivors of crime.

Through the Victims Fund, victims of crime in Canada have the opportunity to attend Parole Board of Canada (PBC) hearings for the offender who harmed them. Victims can do so as observers or to present a victim statement.

Financial assistance may be provided for victims wishing to attend a hearing and who are registered with the PBC. Eligible expenses may include:

  • Travel, accommodation and child or dependent care; and
  • Travel, accommodation for a support person.

2. Definitions

2.1 Victim

An individual who has suffered physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss resulting from the commission or alleged commission of an offence.

2.2 Support Person

An individual providing support and encouragement before, during and after the hearing. There can only be one support person chosen for each registered victim and the support person must be 18 years of age or older.

2.3 Hearing

A face to face meeting between PBC members and the offender to review the offender’s case and consider their request for conditional release. The PBC makes its decision by taking into account the risk to the community as well as other criteria set out in the law. In most cases, PBC members make their decision right at the hearing.

3. Eligibility for Assistance

3.1 Victims

Victims who wish to attend a PBC hearing may receive financial assistance to cover some of their travel costs if they are 18 years of age or older and have:

  • registered with the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) or the PBC;
  • applied to and are approved by the PBC to attend a hearing of the offender who harmed them;
  • attended the hearing (or the PBC confirms that an attempt was made, but the victim changed his/her mind prior to entering the correctional institution); or;
  • attempted to attend the hearing, but the PBC confirmed that it was cancelled or postponed to a later date.

3.2 Support Persons

A support person may apply for financial assistance to cover some of the travel costs to accompany a registered victim to a PBC hearing if the person is 18 years of age or older and has:

  • registered with the CSC or the PBC;
  • applied to and has been approved by the PBC to attend a hearing;
  • attended the hearing (or the PBC confirms that an attempt was made); or
  • attempted to attend the hearing, but the PBC confirmed that the hearing was cancelled or postponed to a later date.

A support person does not require PBC approval to attend the hearing if the person is not entering the correctional institution.

4. Expenses

4.1 Eligible Expenses

Eligible expenses to attend a PBC hearing at a correctional institution are based on Government of Canada rates and include:

  • Meal and incidental expenses (maximum three days based on departure and arrival times);
  • Incidental expenses based on a fixed amount per day as determined by Government of Canada rates. The amount covers costs that can include: gratuities, phone calls, Internet, public transportation, and meter parking;
  • Hotel, motel, or private non-commercial accommodation of an economy rate single room in a convenient location (maximum two nights);
  • Economy travel (includes airfare, bus or train);
  • Economy car rental, including gas, and insurance (collision damage waiver);
  • Mileage when using a privately owned vehicle;
  • Taxi (local travel only, i.e. home to airport, airport to hotel, hotel to hearing, etc.);
  • Road/bridge tolls, ferries and other transportation service charges/fees;
  • Parking (except meter parking which is covered under Incidentals);
  • Dependent care expenses:
    • daily maximum up to $35 Canadian, per household, without a receipt, or up to $75 Canadian daily, per household, with a receipt when:
      • the individual is the sole caregiver of a dependant who is under 18 years of age or has a mental or physical disability, or
      • two individuals living in the same household are the sole caregivers of a dependant who is under 18 years of age or has a mental or physical disability and both individuals are travelling to the PBC hearing at the same time.
    • dependent care allowance shall apply only for expenses that are incurred as a result of travelling; and
  • any other reasonable expense as discussed with departmental officials.

4.2 Ineligible Expenses

The following expenses are not covered under the Victims Fund:

  • lost wages;
  • compensation costs related to the victimization;
  • loss/damage, repair costs, and towing costs associated with the rental of a vehicle or the use of a privately-owned vehicle; and
  • expenses that are not supported by an official receipt or an invoice.

4.3 Exceptions

Some exceptions to the above may apply on a case by case basis.

4.4 Transportation

Transportation arrangements should be based on cost, duration, convenience, safety and practicality.

4.5 Vehicle Insurance

  • Collision damage waiver coverage for the entire period that a vehicle is rented is required and is an eligible expense for reimbursement purposes.
  • Individuals will not be reimbursed for personal accident insurance coverage premiums.
  • The Government of Canada assumes no financial responsibility for privately owned vehicles other than paying the mileage rate.
  • The Government of Canada is not responsible for reimbursing insurance deductible amounts.
  • Privately owned vehicles or other types of transportation used to travel to attend a PBC hearing shall have provincial/territorial/state/country insurance coverage of public liability and property damage.
  • Individuals who intend to carry passengers must be adequately insured.

5. Reimbursement of Costs Incurred to Attend a PBC Hearing

An individual will be reimbursed for reasonable costs incurred to attend a PBC hearing based on the following:

5.1 Official Receipts

  • An official receipt is an original document or carbon copy showing the date and amount of expenditure paid along with the name, address, phone number and any other information that indicates that the costs were incurred by the individual.
  • Where the receipt is for dependent care allowances, it should contain the name, address and telephone number, the signature of the victim or support person and the signature of the person that provided the care.
  • A hand-written receipt that simply states that the individual gave an amount to another person does not constitute an official receipt.
  • Currency that is not in Canadian dollars must be identified.
  • Where the individual certifies that a receipt was lost, accidentally destroyed or unobtainable, a personal declaration may replace the receipt (see attached sample).

5.2 Expenses that do not require receipts

The following expenses will be reimbursed at Government of Canada rates and do not require receipts:

  • Meal and incidental expenses and those from use of a privately owned vehicle;
  • Amounts payable related to meal expenses and incidental expense allowances are pro-rated per day based on departure and arrival times;
  • Mileage rates for travel by privately owned vehicles are based on estimates of distances travelled (or actual kilometers travelled as reported by the applicant) and is meant to cover costs for gas and depreciation; and
  • Private accommodation is reimbursed in accordance with the rates established by the Government of Canada.

6. Advanced Payments

An advanced payment up to a maximum of 70% of total estimated costs, excluding meal, incidental and dependent care expenses may be made when requested, provided:

  • The PBC confirms that the individual has been approved to attend the hearing; and
  • There is sufficient time before the hearing to process the application and make the payment.

7. Direct Deposit

Payments will be issued through direct deposit unless the individual:

  • Provides a valid reason as to why he/she cannot accept direct deposit;
  • Resides in a foreign country, other than the United States; or
  • Resides in the United States and does not have a bank account with the Bank of America.

8. Application Process

A victim who has registered and applied to the CSC or the PBC to attend the hearing of the offender who harmed them, either to observe or to present a victim statement may apply for funding by completing the Application Form and sending it to the Department of Justice Canada for consideration.

An individual may apply for financial assistance as a support person to a victim by completing the Application Form and sending it to the Department of Justice Canada for consideration. The victim being supported must be registered with the CSC or the PBC and must have applied to attend a hearing. The support person does not need to be registered with the CSC or the PBC, and does not have to attend the hearing.

Applications may be sent electronically, by fax or by mail. Decisions on the eligibility of an applicant and the amount of funding are made as soon as possible after a fully completed application is received. Applicants are advised by letter of the decision, including confirmation of the expenses that will be covered.

9. Other Considerations

An individual who received an advance payment and who did not attend the PBC hearing will be required to reimburse the advance payment provided:

  • The Department confirms with the PBC that the individual did not attend the hearing;
  • The Department sends a letter to the individual seeking the reimbursement of the advance, payable within 30 days of receipt of the letter; and
  • The advance payment is considered to be a debt owing to the Crown.

Should an assessment of an individual’s final expenses result in an overpayment:

  • The overpayment is to be recovered from the individual;
  • The Department will send a letter to the individual seeking the reimbursement of the overpayment, payable within 30 days of receipt of the letter; and
  • The overpayment is considered to be a debt owing to the Crown.

Where a PBC hearing is cancelled, and where the individual has incurred eligible costs;

  • Any eligible expense will be covered upon submission of receipts;
  • Airlines may provide a credit for the unused air fare – the individual should keep the credit for use at the next scheduled hearing.

10. Extraordinary Circumstances

Exceptions may be made to these guidelines where they are clearly articulated and consistent with the objectives and limitations of the Victims Fund.

11. False Declaration

A false declaration may result in repayment of expenses and could constitute fraud.

12. Service Charter

The Department is committed to providing quality services to all clients whether through e-mail, written correspondence or over the telephone.

We pledge to:

  • Serve you in the official language of your choice;
  • Treat you with respect and courtesy;
  • Provide accurate, timely and helpful service;
  • Explain our processes and decisions;
  • Respond to any requests and complaints quickly; and
  • Protect your private information according the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

We ask that you:

  • Leave a message when you call so that we can respond and monitor our response times;
  • Understand that we sometimes have a high volume of applications; and
  • Refrain from using inappropriate language or behaviour, in order to foster an environment of mutual respect and understanding.

12.1 Our service standards are:

The following standards are identified for the timely and accurate delivery of services:

  • Acknowledgement
    Our goal is to acknowledge receipt of your funding application within 5 business days of receiving your application.
  • Respond to Communication
    Our goal is to respond to all phone calls, written correspondence and emails within 2 business days of receiving your message or correspondence.
  • Payments
    Our goal is to process payments within 20 business days after the completion of the requirements outlined in the contribution letter.

12.2 Monitoring

These service standards are monitored to identify service issues and trends. Departmental results are posted on the Department of Justice website.

12.3 Language of Service

We provide service in both official languages – English or French – whether in written correspondence, online, or on the telephone.

12.4 Hours of Service

Website

You can access the http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fund-fina/cj-jp/fund-fond/attend-audience.html website 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Victims Fund e-mail and address

You can send us comments, questions or a completed funding application online at either of the following email addresses: 

E-mails are monitored from Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays) between 8:30 and 16:30 (Eastern Standard Time).

Our mailing address is:    
Victims Fund Manager
Programs Branch
Department of Justice
284 Wellington Street, 6th Floor
Ottawa ON  K1A 0H8

Toll-free telephone line

You can call us at 1-866-544-1007 from Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays) between 8:30 and 16:30 (Eastern Standard Time). Outside of these hours or in the event that we are dealing with another call or an urgent file, a confidential message can be left. Your call will be returned within 2 business days.

12.5 Feedback

The Department of Justice strives to proactively improve your service experience. As our client, your needs and preferences are important to us. Positive and constructive feedback are always welcome and should be sent by email to pb-dgp@justice.gc.ca.

If you are unsatisfied with the service provided, you may contact the Manager of the Program at (613) 941-4193 or by email at pb-dgp@justice.gc.ca. The Manager will contact you to resolve the difficulties you have encountered.

13. Evergreen Document

These guidelines are an evergreen document and can be amended from time to time to ensure that they remain aligned to government priorities.

14. Privacy

All personal information provided in an application will be protected, used, disclosed and retained in accordance with the Privacy Act. Personal information may be disclosed to the Parole Board of Canada or Correctional Service Canada for the purpose of determining eligibility for assistance and reimbursement. The information collected will be retained for at least 2 years as required by the Privacy Act and Privacy Regulations to allow you a reasonable opportunity to obtain access to your personal information. You have a right, under the Privacy Act to request your own personal information and be given access to it. You have a right to request a correction if you believe there is an error or omission in your personal information under the control of a government institution.

15. Example – Personal Declaration

To the Department of Justice Canada:

I, the undersigned, (Full name of declarant), hereby declare that I lost the (Identification of the lost receipt) related to the Parole Board of Canada hearing of (Name of offender) that was held on (Date of hearing).

I understand that making a false declaration is a criminal offense.

Signature of declarant

Signature of Witness

Signature date

Signature date

Date modified: