Posted on Jun 10, 2020
‘CRUEL RAID’ OF VICTIMS OF CRIME FUND MUST BE STOPPED AT ALL COSTS
EDMONTON - The Alberta NDP is supporting victims of crime in their calls on Jason Kenney and the UCP to immediately halt plans to raid a fund that helped them through the tragic losses they have suffered.
Bill 16 will allow the UCP to expand use of the Victims of Crime fund to help pay for policing initiatives, where previously the money was reserved for Albertans like Karen Venables. Her son Devin died after being assaulted outside of a bar in 2002.
Venables described herself as being “lost” and overwhelmed with grief following his death. It wasn’t until she turned to victim services that she was able to begin to cope with her son’s death.
“My story is like thousands in our province,” Venables said. “The details and the names change, but the end result is many people become a victim of crime. When the worst happens you are unsure of where to turn.”
“Victim Services with the Calgary City Police was the answer to my prayers. I feel they are the unsung heroes that most people do not even know exist - until you need them. They became my lifeline to this journey I was now on navigating through our legal system. I have to say Victim Services was there for me almost 18 years ago when my son Devin was murdered and are still there for me today.”
NDP Justice Critic Kathleen Ganley said this legislation will rob victims of crime of support when they need them most.
“This is a cruel raid of a victims’ fund because this UCP Government hasn’t found a way to pay for the added police they promised in the last provincial election,” Ganley said. “Rather than admit that their policing plan was a fairytale, the Premier and the Minister of Justice are going to take from those who have already lost so much.
“How can this UCP Government look victims of crime in the eyes and try to justify what they’re doing here?”
Bill 16 is currently in second reading in the Legislature. The NDP Opposition proposed already to refer the bill to a legislative committee to allow for consultation on the bill with victims support groups. That referral motion was defeated.
Ganley said she and her Opposition MLAs use every tool available to them to try to defeat Bill 16 or at least force the Government to consult further.
Ganley is also planning a series of amendments in the days ahead, including one that intends to protect and expand victims' access to benefits and supports beyond the scope of Bill 16. The proposed legislation removes and limits benefits for injuries and death, and limits access to supports with timelines that will act as barriers - particularly in relation to the most vulnerable Albertans.
“Our NDP Opposition will do everything we can to stop this heartless legislation,” Ganley said. “If we can’t stop it, we will at least put forward some reasonable amendments to improve it somewhat. We do not support a Bill that robs victims of crime.”
Alf Rudd, President of the Alberta Police-Based Victim Services Association, said “These are not tax dollars. Those funds were intended to support victim serving organizations in providing services directly to those who have suffered as victims of crime and or tragedy. The money supports a cohort of volunteers in every corner of Alberta to be there in times of crisis to support and assist when tragedy strikes.”