Justice Federal Victims Strategy Evaluation

2. Profile of the Justice Federal Victims Strategy

2.1. Overview and Historical Context

Efforts to respond to the needs of victims of crime have been ongoing within the Department of Justice Canada (Department) since the 1970s, when the Department entered into cost-sharing agreements for provincial criminal injuries compensation programs. Although these cost-sharing agreements ended in the 1980s, the Department began funding pilot projects to encourage the development of victim services and in 1988, the federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) Ministers responsible for Justice signed the Canadian Statement of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime. The Statement was part of a broader federal initiative that included a package of Criminal Code amendments motivated by the United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power and co-sponsored by Canada in 1985. The Statement, updated and endorsed by FPT Ministers in 2003, reflects the progress made in responding to the needs of victims of crime in Canada, and provides clear principles which focus on the needs of victims and the practical realities of the criminal justice system. It guides both levels of government in addressing the concerns of victims of crime.

In the 1990s, the federal government initiated a series of law reforms intended to benefit victims of crime and in 1996 established the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Victims of Crime (FPTWG).

In the spring of 1998, the parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights launched a comprehensive review of the victim’s role in the criminal justice system. Its report, Victims’ Rights – A Voice Not A Veto, was tabled in the House of Commons in December 1998. The federal government’s response (also tabled in December 1998) supported the Committee’s recommendations and set out the government’s strategy. This strategy included amendments to the Criminal Code (Bill C-79 which received Royal Assent on June 17, 1999)Footnote 3 related to victims of crime and the creation of the federal Victims of Crime Initiative (VCI) in March 2000. In 2007, the Initiative was significantly enhanced and re-launched as the Federal Victims Strategy (FVS).

The objective of the FVS is to give victims a more effective voice in the criminal justice and federal corrections systems. Given the scope of this objective, the FVS is a horizontal initiative which involves more than one federal agency/department including Correctional Service Canada (CSC), the Parole Board of Canada (PBC), the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), and the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of CrimeFootnote 4.

In 2005, as part of the Strengthening Community Safety Initiative, Public Safety Canada’s (PSC) National Office for Victims (NOV) was established. Recognizing the importance of a consistent federal approach to victim issues, NOV was co-located with the Department of Justice Policy Centre for Victim Issues (PCVI). NOV and PCVI collaborate to ensure that activities are complementary and enhance the role of victims in the criminal justice system.

2.2. Governance of the Justice Federal Victims Strategy

PCVI is involved in all victim-related initiatives within the Department and at the start of the evaluation period (2010-11), it was responsible for all of the Justice FVS activities. This included the Victims Fund, administered by the Innovations, Analysis and Integration Directorate (IAID) of the Programs Branch.

However, as a result of a centralization of departmental functions between 2012 and 2014Footnote 5, the Justice FVS governance structure changedFootnote 6. Although collaboration continued to meet Justice FVS objectives, each respective departmental responsibility centre, namely PCVI, IAID, Research and Statistics Division (RSD) and the Communications Branch, became accountable for their own respective activities. Although the governance structure changed, PCVI continues to be seen as the centre of expertise for the Justice FVS. All core activities of the Justice FVS draw on PCVI expertise in the areas of victim issues, services and legislation.

2.3. Stakeholders and Beneficiaries

Federal Departments and Agencies

PCVI works to ensure that there is a consistent federal approach to victim issues and plays a leadership role in coordinating collaboration between the various federal partners in the FVS through its role as Secretariat of the FPTWG. Membership on the FPTWG is drawn from a wide group of federal officials with a mandate to respond to victims of crime, from the DepartmentFootnote 7, NOV in PSC, CSC, PBC, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), ODPP, and Canadian Criminal Justice Statistics in Statistics Canada, as well as provincial and territorial Directors of Victims Services, and some Crown policy counsel.

Provincial and Territorial Governments

There is a shared jurisdiction in Canada in responding to the needs of victims of crime, which makes FPT partnership essential. This partnership is advanced through the FPTWG.

The Department works together with provincial and territorial governments on many areas of shared jurisdiction and mutually agreed upon activities to benefit victims of crime. It is through this collaborative relationship that many of the outcomes, and ultimately the objectives of the Justice FVS, can be realized.

Non-Governmental Organizations

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that work with or provide services to victims of crime are key stakeholders in the Justice FVS, particularly through their work on events related to National Victims of Crime Awareness Week (Victims Week) and through participation in the National Victims of Crime Advisory Committee, chaired and led by PCVI.

2.4. ResourcesFootnote 8

The Justice FVS brings together six victims initiatives for which the Department receives funding:

  • Victims of Crime Initiative (VCI), announced in 2000Footnote 9;
  • Strengthening Community Safety II, announced in 2005Footnote 10;
  • Federal Victims Strategy (FVS), announced in 2007, renewed in 2011 and made permanent in 2012;
  • Child Advocacy Centres (CACs), announced in 2010, with enhanced funding in 2012 and again in 2015;
  • Time-Limited Operational Funding (TLOF) announced in 2012; and,
  • Concrete Actions on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women (MMAW) announced in 2010 and renewed in 2015 through the Action Plan to Address Family Violence and Violent Crimes against Aboriginal Women and Girls (Action Plan).

The following table presents resources made available for the Justice FVS through Treasury Board Submissions for each year that is included in the evaluation period.

Table 1: Justice FVS Resources Allocated to the Department During Evaluation Period
Initiative Resources 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 Total
Salary + Operations and Maintenance (O & M)Footnote 11 $4,852,931 $5,436,870 $5,436,870 $5,436,870 $5,436,870 $26,600,411
Grants and Contributions (Gs&Cs) $10,186,556 $10,186,556 $11,586,556 $11,586,556 $11,586,556 $55,132,780
Total ResourcesFootnote 12 $15,039,487 $15,623,426 $17,023,426 $17,023,426 $17,023,426 $81,733,191

In addition to the $82 million allocated to the Department through Justice FVS Treasury Board Submissions, $6M in O&M was also made available in 2010-11 for the Government of Canada Victims Matter Campaign. When these additional resources are included, the total resources allocated to the Department for FVS-related activities over the five years was $88 million.

On average, 21 full-time equivalents (FTEs)Footnote 13 worked within the Department to undertake the four core activities of the Justice FVS between 2010 and 2015.

2.5. Justice Federal Victims Strategy Logic Model

The ultimate outcome of the Justice FVS is to contribute to a more effective voice for victims in the criminal justice system. This is expected to be achieved through a number of activities which reduce hardship for victims of crime, increase participation in the criminal justice system and increase access to services for victims. The program theory is based on the assumption that victims that are well supported or have opportunities to participate will have an increased capacity to have an effective voice in the criminal justice system. The Justice FVS Logic Model below outlines the various activities, outputs and outcomes that are expected to contribute to the empowerment of victims to have a more effective voice.

Federal Victims Strategy Logic Model – Justice Canada Component

Federal Victims Strategy Logic Model – Justice Canada Component, described below

Logic Model - Text equivalent

Activities

The four main activities of the Justice FVS are:

  • FPT Working Group on Victims of Crime: Secretariat & Leadership
  • Victims Fund
  • Public Awareness of Victims of Crime Issues
  • Criminal Law Reform and Policy Development

Sub-Activities

There are five sub-activities of the Victims Fund and Public Awareness of Victims of Crime Issues activities. Although not directly related, the FPT Working Group on Victims of Crime: Secretariat & Leadership and the Criminal Law Reform and Policy Development activities also have an impact on these sub-activities. The sub-activities are:

  • Victims Assistance
  • Victim Services Funding
  • Knowledge and Expertise Exchange
  • Public Legal Education and Information Resources and Tools
  • Northern Program

Outputs

The outputs for FPT Working Group on Victims of Crime: Secretariat & Leadership are:

  • FPT meetings, briefing material and partnerships
  • The outputs for the Victims Fund and Public Awareness of Victims of Crime Issues activities are:
  • Financial assistance
  • Funded projects
  • Curricula and training resources
  • Justice Canada website, resources and tools

The outputs for Criminal Law Reform and Policy Development are:

  • Legislation
  • Policy advice
  • Research products
  • Consultation/symposia

Direct Outcomes

All of the outputs are expected to contribute to the following direct outcome:

  • Strengthened federal leadership, legislation, policy and programs responsive to victim issues

This direct outcome is then expected to contribute to the following three additional direct outcomes:

  • Enhanced capacity of the delivery of appropriate, responsive victim services
  • Increased awareness and knowledge of victim issues, legislation and services available
  • Expanded scope and reach of victim services

Indirect Outcomes

The direct outcomes are in turn expected to contribute to two indirect outcomes:

  • Reduced hardship for victims of crime
  • Increased access to services for victims interacting with the criminal justice system

Ultimate Outcome

Collectively the outcomes are expected to contribute to:

  • A more effective voice for victims in the criminal justice system

Strategic Outcome

The Justice FVS is expected to contribute to the following Department of Justice strategic outcome:

  • A fair, relevant and accessible justice system that reflects Canadian values

2.5.1. Justice FVS Activities and Outputs

The Justice FVS is implemented through four overarching strategic activities, which include the FPTWG, Victims Fund, Public Awareness of Victims of Crime Issues, and Criminal Law Reform and Policy Development. PCVI acts as the main responsibility area within the Department that is involved in all four of the strategic activities, which are all interrelated.

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Leadership and Coordination

The FPTWG, chaired by the Director of PCVI, is a forum to collaborate, share information and expertise across jurisdictional boundaries, identify emerging issues, and work with other FPT working groups through subcommittees (e.g. Aboriginal Justice, Family Violence, Restorative Justice, and Implementation ofthe Canadian Victims Bill of Rights [CVBR]) on priority areas. It is through this network that best practices can be shared across the country, as well as means to identify and conduct research. It is also a venue for formal and informal discussions about programs (e.g. CACs, Aboriginal victims, restorative justice) and legislation (e.g. CVBR, RCMP referrals, restitution legislation, victim impact statements, victim surcharge).

PCVI also works closely with other federal departments and agencies (NOV, RCMP, PBC, CSC) that share an interest in and have a mandate to respond to the concerns of victims of crime. They participate in PSC Portfolio meetings, liaise with the Federal Ombudsman’s office (e.g., coordinate the federal government response to the Ombudsman’s Annual Reports), work with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) through the financial assistance to Canadians victimized abroad, and work with PPSC in support of the Crown Witness Coordination Program in the territories. PCVI also works on an ad-hoc basis with other departments whose activities include policy, program or legislative initiatives that will impact victims of crime, such as Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) (e.g. Program for Missing and Murdered Children).

The Victims Fund

The Victims Fund, resourced through six key FVS funding initiativesFootnote 14, is a Gs&Cs program managed by the IAID. The Victims Fund is a core component of the Justice FVS, used to advance departmental policy priorities in the area of victims of crime; identify emerging areas of concern and practice; and advance shared objectives with respect to victim issues with other levels of government and non-governmental stakeholders. It is also one of the few ways the federal government can engage in victim services due to the constitutional division of powers (e.g. through the provision of Gs&Cs to victim serving agencies and individual victims of crime).

The Victims Fund is divided into three components:

a. The Provincial and Territorial Component aims to promote access to justice and participation of victims in the justice system through the development of law, policies and programs, and to enhance victim assistance programs across Canada. Given the unique circumstances in the North, the Victims Fund also provides resources for the three territorial governments to assist victims with emergency costs related to their criminal victimization, participation in the criminal justice system, and access to victim services.

b. The Projects and Activities Component, available to a wide range of groups and organizations, aims to promote access to justice and participation of victims in the justice system and the development of law, policies and programs; promote the implementation of principles, guidelines and laws designed to address the needs of victims of crime and articulate their role in the criminal justice system; contribute to increased knowledge and awareness of the impact of victimization, the needs of victims of crime, available services, assistance and programs and legislation; and promote, encourage and/or enhance governmental and non-governmental organizations’ involvement in the identification of victim needs and gaps in services, and in the development and delivery of programs, services and assistance to victims, including capacity building within NGOs.

In addition, PCVI undertook policy efforts to increase the scope and reach of program investments by including three new funding initiatives under the Victims Fund Projects and Activities Component in 2010:

  • funding in support of the federal initiative MMAW in an effort to assist provincial and territorial victim services as well as Aboriginal community organizations to adapt, enhance, develop, or design victim services aimed at responding to the specific, multi-faceted issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. All projects are expected to include one of the following elements: improved outreach and communication with Aboriginal victims and their families; culturally sensitive support for family members of missing and murdered Aboriginal women; or enhanced community support;
  • funding to create new CACs or enhance existing CACs in Canada to provide a coordinated approach to addressing the needs of children involved in the criminal justice system, either as victims of or witnesses to abuse. CACs are child-focused centres that address investigation, treatment and prosecution of child abuse. They seek to minimize system-induced trauma by providing a single, child-friendly setting for child victims or witnesses and their families to seek services, and by reducing the number of interviews and questions directed at children during the investigation or court preparation process; and
  • TLOF grants to help NGOs maintain services by covering operating expenses such as staff payroll, office space rental, and limited capital expenditures for up to two years.

The MMAW and CAC initiatives were complemented by policy activities to increase the scope and reach of these investments.

c. The Financial Assistance Component is designed to provide direct, limited, financial assistanceFootnote 15 to:

  • individual registered victims of offenders under federal jurisdiction/supervision who incur expenses to attend PBC hearings in respect of the offender who harmed them;
  • individuals who attend with or support a registered victim to attend PBC hearings;
  • individual Canadian victims of a specified serious violent crime in a foreign country for emergency situations of undue hardship where no other source of financial assistance is available, or an individual support person to accompany, attend with or support a Canadian victimized in a foreign country (including to participate in court proceedings related to that offence); and
  • individual victims of crime in exceptional circumstances for emergency situations of undue hardship where no other source of financial assistance is available.
Public Awareness of Victims of Crime Issues

Public awareness of victims of crime issues are advanced by the Justice FVS through various mechanisms, the Victims Fund and through direct activities of the PCVI. These types of activities within the Justice FVS are varied, but have a shared objective of raising awareness about legislation intended to benefit victims, services available, and victim issues among victims of crime, the public, and criminal justice professionals.

Criminal Law Reform and Policy Development

Criminal law reform and policy development within the Justice FVS encompasses a range of activities including the development of policy options, legislative options and legislation and supporting legislation through Parliament, in addition to legal analysis, litigation support, policy advice, research, international activities and sharing information through victims related symposia, as well as stakeholder consultation including the National Victims of Crime Advisory Committee and the FPTWG, both chaired by PCVI.

PCVI also works with territorial colleagues to build the capacity of northern service providers to better meet the needs of northern victims of crime. The Northern Program, implemented in 2007 and advanced by the Victims Fund, is aimed at raising awareness about the needs of victims living in northern regions, supporting victim service providers to undertake site visits to encourage linkages and networking between and within northern jurisdictions, and supporting northern specific training (including the development of a northern victims services training program).

2.5.2. Direct Outcomes

Strengthened federal leadership, legislation, policy and programs responsive to victim issues.

This outcome is expected to be achieved through the collective work that the Department undertakes through the four core activities. It reflects the identification of emerging victims of crime issues and the implementation or coordination of responses at the federal level. Federal leadership in this area is also expected to be strengthened as a result of Justice FVS efforts to develop policies and programs for victims of crime that have a national or regional focus.

In turn, this outcome is expected to contribute to the following related three direct outcomes of the Justice FVS:

Enhanced capacityFootnote 16 for the delivery of appropriate, responsive victim services.
The Justice FVS is intended to result in victim-serving agencies having additional staff, and service providers having effective tools, knowledge and training to do their work in support of victims of crime in their community.
Increased awareness and knowledge of victim issues, legislation and services available among targeted audiences.
The Justice FVS is expected to raise awareness and increase knowledge about victim issues, legislation and services available among victims of crime, the general public, criminal justice professionals and victim service providers.
Expanded scope and reach of victim services.
The Justice FVS is expected to expand the scope of services available to under-served victims of crime (e.g. children and youth, elderly, minority populations, Aboriginal communities) as well as emerging communities of victims of crime (e.g. victims of technology-driven crime). In addition, the Justice FVS is expected to expand the geographic reach of services for victims of crime by supporting the expansion of services into under-served geographic areas, as well as supporting victim service providers to use new forms of technology to communicate information across a large geographic space.

2.5.3. Indirect Outcomes

Reduced hardship for victims of crime, including reduced financial and non-financial hardships associated with interacting with the criminal justice system.
The Justice FVS is expected to reduce the financial hardship for victims by providing financial assistance in specific areas that are linked to the jurisdiction of the federal government, including financial assistance to registered victims of crime to attend PBC hearings and to Canadians who have been victimized abroad. The Justice FVS is also expected to reduce hardship for victims by providing financial assistance to address exceptional/emergency needs of victims in the three territories; by supporting the development of CACs; and increasing the availability of testimonial aids for vulnerable victims/witnesses.
Increased access to services for victims interacting with the criminal justice system.
The Justice FVS is expected to increase access to services for victims of crime, which takes many forms and intersects at all points of entry along the continuum of the criminal justice system. The Justice Strategy supports not only new services, but also increased availability of existing services by enhancing capacity (e.g. hours, location). It is also expected to enhance the delivery of existing services by increasing accessibility in such areas as languages in which services are provided, supporting translation services, expanding types of services provided to reflect the needs of the community being served, and supporting the development of culturally relevant victim services (e.g., for Aboriginal victims of crime, families of missing or murdered Aboriginal women).

2.5.4. Ultimate Outcome

The ultimate outcome of the Justice FVS is to contribute to a more effective voice for victims in the criminal justice system. This is expected to be achieved through developing policies and legislation that increase victim participation, providing victims opportunities to participate in the criminal justice process and enhancing their experience with the system. Also, it is expected that if victims are well supported and informed, they will have a more effective voice. This outcome is linked with the broader strategic outcome of Justice Canada of a fair, relevant and accessible Canadian justice system.

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