The Government of Alberta is making changes to improve victim services and support in Alberta. Tyler Shandro, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General joined several other local dignitaries in giving the announcement outside of Sylvan Lake Municipal Office building on Tuesday, July 19.
“The new Victims Assistance Program will give victims quick access to emergency financial assistance, and this includes emergency travel funding for those who are escaping domestic violence and relocation assistance for human trafficking victims. We're also increasing access to immediate counseling and transitional counseling services to a combined total of $12,000. Counseling will be expanded so that families of homicide victims and minors who witness domestic violence can get the help,” said Shandro during his announcement.
The new victim assistance program, starting Sept. 1, will:
- Give victims quick access to emergency financial assistance, such as emergency support for domestic violence victims and relocation assistance for human trafficking victims.
- Increase the 45-day limit on applications to two years.
- Increase counselling services to $12,000.
- Provide extended medical health benefits to victims with serious injuries.
- Provide additional financial supports to victims with severe injuries.
- Provide victims with court attendance reimbursement.
- Reimburse families of homicide victims for funeral expenses.
To ensure victims have consistent access to services across Alberta, program delivery is shifting to a four-zone model, which aligns with RCMP districts. This will improve the reliability, continuity and uniformity of service delivery across the province; increase professional supports for front-line case workers; and allow for greater flexibility and capacity to deliver services at the community level where they are needed the most. A new layer of centralized professional staff support will be created within each zone to provide strategic, logistical and administrative support to front-line caseworkers.
“The change to a more regional approach will strengthen the program and ensure communities across Alberta will have the resources they need to support victims of crime. All areas throughout Alberta should continue to focus on creating inclusive and supportive communities for all peoples by ensuring we have services in place to meet their needs. Under the previous model, Sylvan Lake saw first-hand how communities were receiving far different levels of service, and we look forward to a more consistent approach for all Albertans,” said Megan Hanson, Mayor of Sylvan Lake.