Documents show feds saw few hurdles to overhaul under-used victims fund

OTTAWA — Federal official saw few hurdles blocking changes to a grossly underused grant for parents of missing and murdered children, say newly released documents that show the government felt the program was “meeting its objectives.”

Briefing material crafted for the minister in charge of the program show that officials expected to simplify and expand outreach efforts to raise more awareness about the fund and do both by the end of 2017.

But Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos was told that loosening what a watchdog saw as restrictive eligibility criteria carried ”varying levels of program risk.”

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of the July presentation and briefing note under the Access to Information Act.

The government has yet to enact changes to the program that advocates had hoped for in the wake of a critical review published in August by then victims ombudsman Sue O’Sullivan.

Federal outreach efforts did little to boost take-up of the grant, which continues to spend less than one per cent of the $10 million-a-year budget on funding to families, with much more being spent on administering the money.

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