The Ontario government is launching an enhanced program to support victims of violent crimes.
In Peterborough on Friday morning, the province’s attorney general unveiled the Victim Quick Response Program+ (VQRP+), a system that builds upon the existing program for victims and their families to ensure quicker access to services and supports.
Doug Downey says beginning Oct. 1, victims of violent crimes will be able to access VQRP+ to help cover emergency and essential expenses, funerals and counselling costs. The program aims to help victims and their families whose lives have been impacted by violence, including homicide, domestic violence, human trafficking and hate crimes.
“VQRP+ will relieve some of the burden caused by the crime, enhance safety and meet their practical needs,” Downey said at a press conference at the Peterborough County OPP detachment. “At the same time, we are ensuring this provincial program will also help serve as a bridge to longer-term health and social supports.”
Downey says under VQRP+, victims will not have to pay out of pocket for eligible expenses. He noted victims will no longer have to “relive their trauma” through a long and complex adjudicative process when applying for support.
“Victims will quickly receive the supports they need, often within days of applying, and in some cases, immediately,” he said.
The program will provide up to $20,000 in funding for residential in-patient treatment for survivors of human trafficking, an increase of $10,000.
As well, a spouse of a homicide victim or each parent of a child homicide victim will receive up to $5,000 in additional support under VQRP+. Families are currently supported under the Financial Assistance for Families of Homicide Victims program. Supports include covered cost of travel and hotel for families of homicide victims; if a family is displaced, food cards are provided; travel costs for a spouse to attend the coroner’s office and child care while a parent is away. Safety measures such as deadbolts and contact alarms are also covered.
“Practical and immediate support is vital in helping victims heal and rebuild their lives, especially human trafficking victims and families of homicide victims, who typically need numerous types of emergency and long-term services,” said Sheri MacDonald, president of the Ontario Network of Victim Service Providers.
“VQRP+ will bring real relief to more survivors in the aftermath of their victimization. We commend the government of Ontario’s commitment to investing in programs that support victims of crime and look forward to collaborating on enhancing more services for victims.”
The VQRP will replace the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB), which will accept applications until Sept. 30.
The enhanced VQRP+ makes support available to help cover the cost of:
- Safety expenses
- Various priority needs, including travel, accommodation and associated expenses
- Dental expenses
- Residential treatment for survivors of human trafficking
- Practical assistance expenses
- Crime scene cleanup
- Funeral costs
- Counselling services and associated transportation expenses, and supports for victims with serious injuries and for families of homicide victims.
Under the enhanced program, once VQRP+ receives completed submissions, it will make decisions within:
- Three business days for supports for immediate needs, funeral expenses and additional supports for survivors of human trafficking
- Five business days for counselling, residential treatment and associated transportation requests
- 10 business days for homicide survivor support and serious injury support.
WATCH: Meet Canada’s first victim services’ robot
More to come.