Today, the Ontario Government unveiled new supports to make it easier for victims of violent crime and their families to get the help they need when and where they need it most.
The government is introducing the Victim Quick Response Program + (VQRP+), an enhanced program to support victims of violent crimes. The new program builds on the existing VQRP by making it easier for victims and their families to access services and supports and getting them support faster. Starting October 1, 2019, victims of many violent crimes will be able to access VQRP+, which will offer enhanced supports to help cover emergency and essential expenses, funerals and counselling costs. The program is for victims and families whose lives have been impacted by violence, including intimate partner violence, human trafficking, homicide, and hate crimes.
"With the enhanced VQRP+ program, our government is putting people first by ensuring programs directly support victims, their immediate family members, and witnesses in the immediate aftermath of violent crimes. VQRP+ will relieve some of the burden caused by the crime, enhance safety, and meet their practical needs," said Attorney General Doug Downey. "At the same time, we are ensuring this provincial program will also help serve as a bridge to longer-term health and social supports."
Under VQRP+, victims do not have to pay out of pocket for eligible expenses. Designated agencies in communities across Ontario will support victims in the immediate aftermath of a crime and will assist victims in accessing the supports they need. Victims won't be forced to relive their trauma through a long and complex adjudicative process - as they did when applying under the previous system. Victims will quickly receive the supports they need, often within days of applying, and, in some cases, immediately.
VQRP+ provides up to $20,000 in funding for residential in-patient treatment for survivors of human trafficking, up from $10,000. Survivors of this heinous and growing problem in Ontario, which includes crimes related to sexual exploitation and forced labour, will also be able to access increased support for safety and immediate supports and medical-related expenses.
The government is also adding supports for families of homicide victims to VQRP+, which are currently provided under the Financial Assistance for Families of Homicide Victims (FAFHV) program. A spouse of a homicide victim or each parent of a child homicide victim will receive up to $5,000 in financial support.
As a result of the enhancements, VQRP+ will be a coordinated, province-wide, and victim-centered service delivery model. The enhanced program will be faster, easier for victims to navigate and apply to, and will focus on providing the support victims need in the immediate aftermath of a violent crime.
"Practical and immediate support is vital in helping victims heal and rebuild their lives, especially human trafficking victims and families of homicide victims, who typically need numerous types of emergency and long-term services," said Sheri MacDonald, President of the Ontario Network of Victim Service Providers. "VQRP+ will bring real relief to more survivors in the aftermath of their victimization. We commend the Government of Ontario's commitment to investing in programs that support victims of crime and look forward to collaborating on enhancing more services for victims."
The creation of the VQRP+ is a first step in the government's plan to transform victim services across government.
- As announced in the 2019 Budget, VQRP has been enhanced to replace the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB), which will accept applications until September 30, 2019.
- The CICB will process all existing applications before ceasing operations and, as of October 1, 2019, VQRP+ will become the one-window provider of victims’ financial support services.