Historic Legislation to Create A Canadian Victims Bill of Rights
Announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper
By A Correspondent
Federal Government seeks to better protect victims of crime and give them a stronger voice in our justice system.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on April 3, announced the introduction of legislation to create a Canadian Victims Bill of Rights that would transform the criminal justice system by creating, at the federal level, clear rights for victims of crime – a first in Canadian history. The Prime Minister was joined by Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said, “Our Government is proud to be rebalancing the scales of Canadian justice to ensure that innocent victims of crime have clear rights in our system. The new legislation being introduced in Parliament today aims to ensure that victims are at the heart of our judicial system and that they have the right to information, to protection, to participation and to restitution.”
“Our Government wants victims of crime across this country to know that we have listened to their concerns and that we are squarely on their side. Victims will have enforceable rights in Canada’s criminal justice system, will be treated with the respect and fairness that they deserve, and will have a stronger voice,” added Harper.
During consultations held by the federal Government over the past year, many victims of crime shared stories of their interactions with the criminal justice system. Many participants expressed a desire for victims of crime to be kept better informed and involved at every stage of the justice process, and called for an increased understanding of the needs of victims.
Our Government is delivering on its commitment in the 2013 Speech from the Throne to introduce a Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, a commitment reiterated in Budget 2014. The legislation is part of our Government’s Plan for Safe Streets and Communities, which focuses on holding violent offenders accountable, enhancing the rights of victims, and increasing the efficiency of our justice system.
- The legislation would create the following statutory rights for victims of crime:
- Right to information: Victims would have the right to general information about the criminal justice system and available victim services and programs, as well as specific information about the progress of the case, including information relating to the investigation, prosecution and sentencing of the person who harmed them.
- Right to protection: Victims would have the right to have their security and privacy considered at all stages of the criminal justice process, to have reasonable and necessary measures to protect them from intimidation and retaliation, and to request their identity be protected from public disclosure.
- Right to participation: Victims would have a right to convey their views about decisions to be made by criminal justice professionals and have them considered at various stages of the criminal justice process, and to present a victim impact statement.
- Right to restitution: Victims would have the right to have the court consider making a restitution order for all offences for which there are easy-to-calculate financial losses.
- The Government will provide dedicated funding to support the implementation of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights through existing resources as well as the allocation of new federal resources.
- A study released in 2011 by the Department of Justice Canada found that the total cost of crime is an estimated $99.6 billion a year – 83 per cent of which is borne by victims.
- According to Statistics Canada, nearly 2 million criminal incidents were reported to Canadian police services in 2012.
- All provinces and territories have legislation for victims of crime and currently manage successful victims’ services programs in their own jurisdictions.
- Overview of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights
- Right to information
- Right to protection
- Right to participation
- Right to restitution
- Victim Surcharge