Successes

Over the years, the CRCVC has worked to advance victims’ rights in a number of areas, influencing several positive legislative reforms and important policy changes affecting crime victims. The following are a few examples of our success:

  • The CRCVC has been involved in work to bring about numerous recent pieces of legislation in Canada, including: Amendments to the CCRA under The Safe Streets and Communities Act including enshrining victim participation in conditional release board hearings, and keeping victims better informed about the behaviour and handling of offenders; Federal income support for parents of murdered or missing children; The elimination of the faint-hope clause; Consecutive sentences for multiple murderers; Legislation to strengthen the National Sex Offender Registry and the National DNA Data Bank by automatically including convicted sex offenders in the registry and making DNA sampling for convicted sex offenders mandatory; and the doubling of Victim Surcharge amounts and to make them mandatory for all offenders convicted of a criminal offence.
  • OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL OMBUDSMAN FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME – On April 23, 2007, former CRCVC President Steve Sullivan was named Canada’s first Ombudsman for crime victims, a position and office the CRCVC long called for. The Ombudsman will be responsible for helping victims tap into existing federal programs for crime victims, promote the needs of victims within the justice system and government, review complaints and identify emerging victims’ issues. The Office of the Federal Ombudsman can also issue reports, along with recommendations, to the ministers of justice or public safety, and request a government response. The Ombudsman will operate at arm’s length from the federal departments responsible for victim issues, namely the Department of Justice and the Department of Public Safety.
  • FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR CANADIANS VICTIMIZED ABROAD – Following interventions with a number of Canadians impacted by terrorism and mass violence outside of Canada, CRCVC voiced the need to develop specialized consular training to better serve crime victims and create a program at the federal level to provide financial assistance to Canadians who are victimized outside of Canada. On April 1, 2007, a funding program was announced at the federal level (Victims Fund) to provide emergency financial assistance to individual Canadians who are victims of specified serious violent crimes in a foreign jurisdiction for emergency situations of undue hardship where no other source of financial assistance is available.
  • FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR VICTIMS TO ATTEND PAROLE BOARD HEARINGS & THE CREATION OF A NATIONAL OFFICE FOR VICTIMS – As of November 1, 2005, victims of crime in Canada will now be able to apply for financial assistance to attend the Parole Board of Canada hearings of the offender who harmed them. In addition, a new National Office for Victims has been established to provide information and support to victims.The CRCVC pushed for such a fund to pay for travel given the fact that some hearings take place thousands of kilometres from where the victim lives. While victims may have had the right to attend and speak at federal parole hearings, until now, many could not afford to travel to these hearings to exercise their rights. We are also very pleased about the creation of the National Office for Victims to voice their complaints and frustration with the federal corrections system. We believe this office is an important component in supporting crime victims.
  • PASSAGE OF BILL C-13, LEGISLATION TO STRENGTHEN THE DNA DATA BANK – Amidst parliamentary chaos in May 2000, the CRCVC, along with the help of three women who have suffered incredible loss, successfully pushed Bill C-13 through the House of Commons and the Senate. The amendments to the legislation will allow courts to make DNA data bank orders for a much wider range of offences – potentially, for any offence punishable by a sentence of five years or more. The Bill also expands the retroactive provisions of the legislation so that all persons convicted before June 30, 2000, of murder, manslaughter or a sexual offence, and who are still under sentence, will be included in the National DNA Data Bank. Some of the other amendments to the Criminal Code under Bill C-13 include:
    • making it mandatory for a court to make a DNA data bank order for those persons convicted of the very worst and most violent offences, for example, murder, manslaughter and aggravated assault;
    • authorizing courts to make DNA orders for persons who have been found to have committed a designated offence, but who have also been found “not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder”;
    • adding Internet luring of a child, child pornography and criminal organization offences to the list of “primary designated offences”; and,
    • providing a mechanism that will result in the review of DNA data bank orders that may have been made without legal authority.
  • EXPANSION OF INFORMATION PROVIDED TO VICTIMS – The CRCVC has voiced the need for an expansion of the type of information provided to victims of offenders serving federal sentences. Information about programming (or lack thereof) will allow victims to better judge the risk an offender may still present to them, if any. Advance notifications of transfers, reasons behind transfers and access to recordings of the most recent National Parole Board hearings are crucial pieces of information for victims to access. In the past, the denial of such information under the pretense of protecting an offender’s privacy was seen as unacceptable. Accordingly, the government has introduced Bill C-46, which will amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA)to:
    • Enshrine in law the right of victims to present a statement at National Parole Board hearings.
    • Revise the definition of victim to ensure that guardians/caregivers of dependants of victims who are deceased, ill or otherwise incapacitated can get the information that victims are permitted under the law.
    • Provide victims with access to a recording of the most recent hearing held by the NPB regarding the offender who harmed them.
    • Expand the type of information that can be provided to victims to include information on offender program participation and the reason(s) for offender transfers, with advance notice of transfers to minimum security institutions, whenever possible.

    In Ontario, the government has introduced Bill 190, which amends both the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to provide next of kin with the disclosure of personal information about a deceased loved one for compassionate reasons (as long as the access request does not constitute an unjustified invasion of personal privacy). The CRCVC has worked vigorously to have such amendments introduced, and believe all other provinces/territories and the federal government should amend their access to information laws similarly.

My name is Donna McCully.

It was always our wish to live in Jamaica in our dream home. So, in August 2012, my husband Sedrick Levine and I left Canada to move into our new home. We were thrilled to finally be starting the next chapter in our lives, in Sedrick’s beloved homeland. He bought a little bus and planned to operate tours for visitors to the island. I was helping him run this business venture, as part of our semi- retirement in Jamaica.

My life as I knew it was suddenly shattered when two masked men broke into our home on Sunday, November 17, 2013. Sedrick struggled with the men, allowing me to flee upstairs to call the police. His actions saved my life that day, and that of my father and his housekeeper, who were visiting us at the time. One of the masked intruders chased me upstairs and kicked in the bathroom door, but he stopped when he heard a gunshot from downstairs.

My husband Sedrick was killed that day and the men fled our home with a laptop. The Jamaican police have not yet found these men or charged them with killing my beloved husband. Their motive remains unknown.

This crime has completely changed my life. I suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder now and have depression as a result. I came back to Canada, but I feel very isolated since this happened. These emotional scars may never heal.

I managed to find the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime by searching online one day. I didn’t know where to turn for help when I came home to Canada. The CRCVC has provided me with a lot of emotional support, which has been tremendously helpful. They’ve also written numerous letters to Jamaican officials seeking justice for Sedrick, as well as intervening with Canadian officials on my behalf. The office also helped connect me to a trauma therapist for counselling sessions too.

In order to try and make sense of what happened to Sedrick, it is my hope that others could support the work of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime. There are so many other victims/survivors out there who also need their assistance.