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

Just Posted

COVID-19: Active cases in central zone up Tuesday

Central zone active cases remains lowest of all zones

PHOTOS: Eckville graduates receive their diplomas, finally

Eckville Jr./Sr. High School held a socially distanced grad over the weekend

Central zone active cases down to 20

Province provides update

Gord Bamford serenades Sylvan Lake at sold out concert

Gord Bamford played for a sold out crowd at a drive-in concert Sept. 19 in Sylvan Lake

Quirky Canadian comedy ‘Schitt’s Creek’ takes Emmys by storm with comedy sweep

Toronto-raised Daniel Levy and Ottawa-born Annie Murphy both got supporting actor nods

Public health officials urge Canadians to limit contacts again as COVID-19 cases rise

Canada has committed $1 billion to buy at least 154 million doses of vaccines from five different companies

Majority of Canadians support wearing masks during COVID-19, oppose protests: poll

Nearly 90 per cent felt wearing a mask was a civic duty because it protects others from COVID-19

RCMP say body located of man who fell in river during stop for photos in Banff

Parks Canada has said the man was from India and living in Canada on a work visa

Paper towel in short supply as people stay home, clean more, industry leader says

While toilet paper consumption has returned to normal levels, paper towel sales continue to outpace pre-COVID levels

Lacombe beekeepers give the buzz on winterizing hives

Winterizing a honeybee hive is not a simple task, local apiarists say

Six injured, man in custody following BB gun incident in Alberta, RCMP say

Airdrie’s downtown core was told to shelter-in-place, while others nearby were asked to stay inside

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Most Read