People who have been affected by crime will soon have improved access to supports and care, with new updates being implemented by the Province on Jan. 1, 2024.
“Victims of crime, their immediate family members and witnesses are impacted by crime in different ways, but they all need support and access to services in order to heal,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “Today, we are expanding services and coverage for victims of crime to ensure that comprehensive and compassionate supports and services are accessible to those who need them, when they need them.”
The Crime Victim Assistance Program is expanding supports to victims of crime, family members, and witnesses through enhanced counselling, expansion of the offences covered and increasing benefit rates. In October 2023, the Province made amendments to the Crime Victims Assistance Act (CVAA) to ensure that wider access to support was available to those seeking assistance. Government has further expanded support by:
- adding new offences that vulnerable victims would receive support for, including victims of gender-based violence, conversion therapy and online sexual exploitation (for example: voyeurism, publication of an intimate image without consent and trafficking in persons);
- significantly increasing benefit rates to ensure that key services remain accessible to victims, including funeral expenses, crime scene cleaning, and counselling services (for example: the rate for registered clinical counsellors and Canadian certified counsellors is increasing from $80/hour to $135/hour); and
- expanding access to benefits involving extreme violence or death (for example: vehicle acquisition for victims with significant long-term physical injuries, bereavement leave for immediate family members in fatal cases and crime scene cleaning expenses for immediate family members and witnesses).
“Because of these Crime Victim Assistance Program amendments, women, girls and gender-diverse people will have more access to financial supports, counselling services, protective measures and other benefits so they can cope and recover from the effects of violence,” said Kelli Paddon, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity.
Government continues to work with Indigenous partners and an advisory committee to develop and implement a three-year action plan to support survivors of gender-based violence by funding a variety of services to support women, children, racialized people, immigrants, 2SLGBTQIA+ people and those living with poverty and with disabilities who have been affected by violence as they recover and heal. Better support for survivors of crime is one component of a multi-year action plan to help end gender-based violence being developed by the Ministry of Finance’s Gender Equity Office.
For more information about the Crime Victim Assistance Program and information about how to apply, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/criminal-justice/bcs-criminal-justice-system/if-you-are-a-victim-of-a-crime/victim-of-crime/financial-assistance-benefits
For more information about supports for people facing gender-based violence and B.C.'s Gender Based Violence Action Plan, see: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/gender- equity/ending-gender-based-violence
For more information about VictimLinkBC, information and referral services to all victims of crime, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/criminal-justice/victims-of-crime/victimlinkbc
A backgrounder follows.