With cases of domestic violence in Alberta on the rise in recent months, newly-announced enhancement of support for victims of crime in the province is both needed and welcome.
Coming into effect starting next month, the new victim assistance program is the result of stakeholder consultations undertaken by an MLA working group formed to improve service delivery.
The new program will give victims quicker access to emergency financial assistance, such as crisis support for persons impacted by domestic violence and relocation assistance for human trafficking victims.
It will also increase counselling service support, provide extended medical health benefits to victims of serious injuries, provide additional financial supports to victims with severe injuries, provide victims with court attendance reimbursement, and reimburse families of homicide victims for funeral expenses.
“Navigating the aftermath of a crime can be complex and each victim’s healing process can be difficult, so we are making sure that wherever they may be in their journey or wherever they are in the province, they have access to the help they need when they need it,” said Minister of Justice Tyler Shandro.
Alberta RCMP superintendent Michael McCauley added, “The Alberta RCMP fully supports the regional model that has been developed, as it will create efficiencies that will truly benefit the victims of crime in the province of Alberta.”
The new service delivery model will be implemented in stages starting on Sept. 1, with the rollout expected to be completed within a year.
Providing enhanced assistance to victims of crime is a prudent and positive use of taxpayer dollars and, as such, this new victim support initiative is good for Alberta.
At the same time, there is an ongoing and growing need for enhanced support of police and Crown prosecutors in Alberta so that offenders can be identified and prosecuted.
With considerable criminal activity continuing in rural central Alberta these days, it is encouraging to see the province and its stakeholder partners working together to improve the safety and security of the community-at-large.
Dan Singleton is an editor with the Albertan.