Save Victim Services

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In a time where rallies to defund the police are happening globally, Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer's proposed changes to the Victims of Crime Act and Fund couldn't be more ironic. Bill 16 will allow the government to use the Victims of Crime Fund to pay for other police initiatives and prosecutors. This decision is unethical and detrimental to the well-being of those who need the aid most. These funds should be accessible only to Victim Services.

Victim Services is a much needed social service in Alberta that provides 24/7 support to victims of various traumatic assaults regardless of community. According to Statistic Canada's Victims of Crimes Fact Sheet (2018), in 2016-2017 victim services assisted 84,856 victims of attacks, including sexual assault, aggravated assault, harassment, kidnapping, and robbery, with children making up 16% of those victims. No one should have to go through such a traumatic experience alone. Victim Services functions by trauma-informed volunteer advocates for the victims and witnesses in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy. Victim Services provides court support, including advocating for the victim's rights and accompanying them as they relive their experiences in court. The resources and support offered by Victim Services make a difference in how life-altering those experiences can be.

During this pandemic, there has been a rise in the need for Victim Services, especially noted in the increase of domestic violence cases across Canada. Domestic Violence shelters in Alberta have been at full capacity, leaving many vulnerable people at a loss of resources. Victim Services has a toll-free call-centre where these people can still receive the support from these upstanding volunteers. The recent surge in public action against police brutality and racism showcased in Alberta's numerous rallies demonstrates the public demand for more comprehensive services to aid people in difficult times. This funding is for a vital service that serves and protects people of all ages who never deserved to experience such tragedy. We call for funding for Victim Services to remain intact and to be allocated only to the original purpose of the funds and providing Alberta's victims of crime with the resources and support they deserve.

Further Readings

https://victimservicesalberta.com/

https://victimservicesalberta.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Amendment-Act-May-2020.pdf

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/ucp-victims-crime-fund-bill-16-police-prosecutors-1.5602571

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/2018001/article/54960/s10-eng.htm 
 
https://www.calgary.ca/cps/community-programs-and-resources/victims-of-crime/victim-assistance-support-team.html

https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/advocates-scramble-to-help-domestic-abuse-victims-as-calls-skyrocket-during-covid-19-1.4923109

https://calgaryunitedway.org/blog/addressing-domestic-violence-during-covid-19/

https://calgary.ctvnews.ca/thousands-unite-in-calgary-to-stand-against-racism-police-brutality-1.4968875

https://globalnews.ca/news/7030100/edmonton-equality-rally-alberta-legislature/

https://www.cbc.ca/news/investigates/most-canadians-killed-in-police-encounters-since-2000-had-mental-health-or-substance-abuse-issues-1.4602916