The New Victim Quick Response Program in Ontario

Author:Omar Ha-Redeye
Date:September 08, 2019
 
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The 2019 Ontario Budget, released in March, introduced a number of sweeping changes, including a focus on “Ensuring Agencies are Relevant, Efficient and Effective.”

One of these proposed changes was to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB), to replace the quasi-judicial tribunal model established under the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act with an administrative model. This as then introduced and passed under Bill 100, Protecting What Matters Most Act (Budget Measures). The rationale, as with much of the legal reforms in this budget, is to reduce the expenses related to the adversarial process and expend resources directly on those who need it.

These expenses are typically not derived from tax dollars, but instead comes from the Victims’ Justice Fund Account under a special account in the Consolidated Revenue Fund. These are collected through fine surcharges under subs. 60.1 (4) the Provincial Offences Act and subs. 727.9 of the Criminal Code. The use of these funds is statutorily identified under the Victims’ Bill of Rights, these funds are meant to be used to assist victims of crime,

…to assist victims, whether by supporting programs that provide assistance to victims, by making grants to community agencies assisting victims or otherwise.

This week, the province announced the features of the new model, the Victim Quick Response Program + (VQRP+), which comes into effect on Oct. 1, 2019. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB) established under the Act will continue to accept applications until Sept. 30, 2019, after which all new claims will proceed to the VQRP+. The CICB will continue to process all applications received before the deadline to their conclusion.

On Oct. 1, 2019, the Act will be effectively amended as follows:

4.1 (1) Despite anything to the contrary in this Act, on and after the day section 1 of Schedule 11 to the Protecting What Matters Most Act (Budget Measures), 2019 comes into force, no person may,

(a) make an application for compensation under section 5;
(b) request a hearing and review under section 10;
(c) commence an appeal under section 23; or
(d) make an application for variation under section 25.

The CICB was added to the cluster of Social Justice Tribunals Ontario (SJTO) around 2016, which are themselves being collapsed into the new Tribunals Ontario. The removal of CICB from this cluster and replacing it with a new model is likely intended to streamline and focus the function of the new tribunals agency.

The creation of the CICB in 1971 largely followed a British model created in 1964. It emerged from a recognition of the inadequacy of tort law and other legal schemes to provide adequate compensation for the victims of criminal injuries.

This is especially true for the victims of sexual and domestic violence, where compensation for victims has remained elusive. Unlike the systemic reforms initiated in the 1920’s for automobile accidents, injuries for sexual violence did not receive the same type of attention until this time. Claims relating to sexual assault have been steadily increasing over the past few decades, and are now the single largest category of claim.

The CICB awards money for people who are injured physically or psychologically due to a violent crime, providing compensation for expenses actually and reasonably incurred, including things like medical expenses, funeral expenses to $6,000, interim counselling up to $5,000, loss of wages up to $250/week due to total or partial disability, financial loss to...

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