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Alberta enhances support for victims of crime

Support includes quick access to emergency financial assistance
Alberta announced a new victim assistance program that will begin Sept. 1. (File photo by BLACK PRESS)

Alberta is expanding help for victims of crime and making sure they have consistent access to support across the province starting Sept. 1.

The new victim assistance program will include:

• Quick access to emergency financial assistance, such as emergency support for domestic violence victims and relocation assistance for human trafficking victims.

• Increasing the 45-day limit on applications to two years.

• Increasing counselling services to $12,000.

• Providing extended medical health benefits to victims with serious injuries.

• Providing additional financial supports to victims with severe injuries.

• Providing victims with court attendance reimbursement.

• Reimbursing families of homicide victims for funeral expenses.

• More consistent services.

Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Tyler Shandro said victims deserve a system that protects and supports them from Day 1 and at every stop of their recovery.

“Navigating the aftermath of a crime can be complex and each victim’s healing process can be different, 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 Shandro in a statement.

To ensure victims have consistent access to services across Alberta, program delivery is shifting to a four-zone model, which aligns with RCMP districts.

Sylvan Lake Mayor Megan Hanson said 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,” Hanson said.

A new layer of centralized professional staff support will also be created within each zone to provide strategic, logistical and administrative support to front-line caseworkers.

Current victim services staff will have the opportunity to apply to be victim case workers, and current volunteer advocates will be able to continue their involvement under the new model.

Patricia Arango, executive director of the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre, said the centre is pleased to support the changes to the victim assistance program.

“For survivors of sexual assault, increasing access to timely, specialized and community-based support is critical for the health and safety of all our communities,” Arango said.

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