House Statement by Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur on National Victims of Crime Awareness Week
Check against delivery
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to mark National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, which is being commemorated across Ontario and the country this week.
The national theme for 2014 is "Taking Action."
This theme reminds all Canadians that across the country, countless dedicated professionals and volunteers have and continue to take action to support victims of crime every day in an effort to lessen victims' trauma and help them move forward with their lives.
Our government's commitment to helping victims of crime is recognized far and wide.
We are known for our innovative programs that are always evolving and for taking advantage of the most recent research and knowledge to help victims overcome trauma and strive for healing.
We invest in the delivery of important programs that assist thousands of victims of crime across Ontario.
Services are available for all victims of violent crimes, including homicide, assault, domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, hate crimes and human trafficking.
One example is the Victim Crisis Assistance and Referral Service, which provides immediate on-site support services 24/7, delivered by 47 community agencies across the province.
Our ministry staff delivers the Victim/Witness Assistance Program, providing information, assistance and support to victims and witnesses of violent crime throughout the criminal court process.
We also offer specialized supports and services, such as:
- help for children who may be victims of online sexual abuse
- counselling support and a dedicated 24-hour crisis information line
- financial and court-based supports to help victims and families of homicide victims participate more fully in the criminal court process
- assistance with emergency and funeral expenses, as well as crime scene cleanup services
- personal safety plans and, where appropriate, cellular telephones for at-risk eligible victims.
Through our Domestic Violence Court Program, the ministry's victim services staff work together with Crown prosecutors, police and others to help us reach our goal of breaking the cycle of violence.
Our government recognizes the unique challenges faced by victims in Aboriginal communities.
A new, community-based, culturally relevant service supporting victims in remote Aboriginal communities in northeastern Ontario is now in place in eight communities on the James and Hudson Bay coasts.
But even the best programs we can develop would achieve little or nothing without the thousands of highly skilled and dedicated people who serve victims of crime on a daily basis.
Across Ontario, thousands of volunteers and professionals offer their knowledge, support and advice to victims.
They demonstrate compassion and respect.
They demonstrate commitment and perseverance, helping victims where and when help is needed most.
Some have been victims of crime themselves, and yet, have found the strength to work as advocates - raising the profile of victims' issues.
In doing so, these courageous people are not only forging a better future for themselves, but for their families, friends and communities. For future generations.
We owe all of these people a great debt of gratitude.
One way we can recognize these people and their tremendous efforts is through the Attorney General's Victim Services Awards of Distinction.
I will have the honour of presenting these awards to some of these individuals this Thursday.
You will be able to welcome this year's recipients when I introduce them here following the presentation ceremony.
The awards are a small, but important way we can recognize excellence in victim services.
Mr. Speaker, our commitment is clear.
We will continue our work of improving services for victims of crime, funding effective programs, and finding new and innovative ways to help communities across Ontario share new skills and best practices to ensure Ontario remains a leader in the area of victim services.
Everyone in Ontario has a responsibility to learn about the issues that affect victims of crime, and to help build stronger communities that offer the help and support they need.
I know that all members of the House will continue to support victims of crime, and will honour the contributions victims, and those who work to help them, make across our province.
Thank you. Merci.