All too often the lingering trauma and hardship associated with victims of abuse or a violent crime are overlooked when addressing the causes and impacts of these violent offenders' actions. 

The financial cost of being a victim can also be staggering and crippling to some of society's most vulnerable individuals.

That's why on September 1st the Albertan Government, through a working group co-chaired by MLA for Airdrie-East Angela Pitt and MLA for Lethbridge-East Nathan Neudorf, is rolling out changes and enhancements to its victim support network with a new program.

These changes include but aren't limited to:

  • Give victims quick access to emergency financial assistance.
  • Increase the 45-day limit on applications to two years.
  • Increase counselling services to $12,000.
  • Provide extended medical health benefits to victims with serious injuries.
  • Provide additional financial support to victims with severe injuries.
  • Provide victims with court attendance reimbursement.
  • Reimburse families of homicide victims for funeral expenses.

The stated goals of this program are to offer ‘more consistent services’ and to ‘prioritize victims of crime’ and aim to accomplish this by engaging with victim support services on the best way to implement these services. They also look to improve access by offering a four-zone service model akin to the one used by the RCMP for policing districts.

Pitt, who is working with the government to roll these changes out for September, says this is an important step to improving victims' lives.

“The government must ensure help is accessible and available to victims as they navigate the aftermath of a crime. I want to express our deep gratitude to the many organizations and people across the province that participated in the review. We are pleased that Alberta's government has accepted our recommendations on how we can implement an approach that puts victims first.”

Executive Director at the Strathmore Overnight Shelter Pastor Elizabeth Karp hopes these funds will help victims focus on getting off the streets.

“I'm hoping to see that we can place more people in homes if they have more easy access to finances. So, getting them into homes and getting them off the streets even out of the shelter and kind of established on their own and in counselling. Counselling is a big thing as well a lot of them need that.”

Starting in September we will see if the fruits of this new government program will come to bloom. Hopefully, if it achieves success it will mark a significant step forward in the way victims and vulnerable members of our province are treated after suffering from violence and hardship.

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