Alberta victim services group concerned government could ‘raid’ fund

Alberta victim services group concerned government could ‘raid’ fund

TABER, Alta. — A victim services group is concerned that proposed legislation could allow the Alberta government to raid a fund meant to help those hurt by crime.

The United Conservative government introduced a bill last week that would expand the scope of the Victims of Crime Fund to include specialized police teams, drug treatment courts and the hiring of more Crown prosecutors.

“If this legislation is successful, the solicitor general will arbitrarily have unfettered access to the fund to provide more police, more prosecutors and fund other undefined public safety initiatives,” the Alberta Police Based Victim Services Association said in a release.

“This amounts to a raid on a fund that for 30 years has carefully and prudently provided a safe landing for those criminally and brutally treated.”

Money for the fund comes from provincial fine surcharges and is meant to help crime victims through financial relief and support programs. The victim services group said the fund has been managed so well that it has a multimillion-dollar surplus with no taxpayer money.

It believes the fund should remain focused on aiding crime victims and worries that opening it up to other programs could put that work in jeopardy.

The province also raised the victim fine surcharge in April to 20 per cent from 15, increasing the fund’s annual budget to $60 million a year from $40 million.

“The government is expanding the scope of the Victims of Crime Fund to fund initiatives that help prevent victimization while still providing the support victims need when they need it,” Alberta Justice spokeswoman Ina Lucila said in a statement Tuesday.

“This is not an either/or debate. It is about how we can best support victims and keep Albertans safe.”

She added the government has appointed a working group to study how the fund can better deliver benefits to crime victims.

A 2016 report by the province’s auditor general urged Alberta Justice to find “an appropriate and productive use” for the fund’s ever-growing surplus and define victims’ needs and any gaps in service.

Alf Rudd, president of the victim services association, said the fund has managed to rack up a surplus of $74 million.

Rudd said his organization, a non-profit that represents more than 70 victim service programs across Alberta, would be willing to discuss ways to put the fund’s extra money to use, rather than divert it to initiatives that should be taxpayer funded.

“Can more be done for victims? Absolutely — and there’s money there to do that,” said Rudd, a former police chief in Taber, Alta.

“We’ve got 30 years of wisdom that we can apply here and it seems that we’ve let a little bit of that slip away in the decision.

“Victims services can work with the government to come up with a better plan to serve victims in the province rather than just co-opt that money into some other purpose.”

— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 2, 2020

The Canadian Press

Alberta

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Red Deer remains at two active COVID-19 cases

Alberta confirms 94 new cases over past two days

UPDATE: Wetaskiwin shoppers to resume using reusable grocery bags

City Council lifting suspension of the Plastic Checkout Bag Ban Bylaw.

UPDATE: Thorsby RCMP seek the public’s assistance to locate missing female

14-year-old Tiera Lativa Strawberry has been found.

Mobile mammography service coming to Breton

Women ages 50 to 74 can get tested July 15-17 by appointment

City of Wetaskiwin Canada Day celebrations

From a pancake breakfast to a Canada flag scavenger hunt, Wetaskiwin was innovative in celebrating.

North American stock market celebrations of U.S. jobs report muted by COVID cases

North American stock market celebrations of U.S. jobs report muted by COVID cases

Ottawa jail inmates argue anti-COVID measures a breach of charter rights

The prisoners allege guards did not wear masks until April 25

Nestle Canada selling bottled water business to local family-owned company

The Pure Life bottled water business is being sold to Ice River Springs

US unemployment falls to 11%, but new shutdowns are underway

President Donald Trump said the jobs report shows the economy is “roaring back”

Epstein pal arrested, accused of luring girls for sex abuse

Ghislaine Maxwell was in an intimate relationship with Epstein for years

More than 50,000 Coronavirus cases reported per day in US

Coronavirus cases are rising in 40 of 50 US states

Trump plans huge July 4 fireworks show despite DC’s concerns

Despite health concerns from D.C.’s mayor, no one apparently will be required to wear masks

Canadian engineer detained in Egypt released, needs treatment, family says

Yasser Albaz was detained at the Cairo airport after a business trip in February of 2019

Most Read