MLA for Airdrie-East, Angela Pitt, who co-chaired a working group with her Lethbridge counterpart MLA Nathan Neudorf made a series of recommendations to improve victim services and support in Alberta. Based on those recommendations, the provincial government has announced that they will be establishing enhanced services and support for victims of crime. 

According to the province, moving forward, the Victims of Crime and Public Safety Fund will be dedicated to services and support for victims of crime.

"While the government will continue to implement public safety initiatives that deter crime and prevent Albertans from being victimized in the first place, funding for these initiatives will no longer be taken from this fund," a press release stated

To ensure victims have consistent access to services across Alberta, program delivery is shifting to a four-zone model, which aligns with RCMP districts.

"This will improve the reliability, continuity and uniformity of service delivery across the province; increase professional support for front-line case workers; and allow for greater flexibility and capacity to deliver services at the community level where they are needed the most. A new layer of centralized professional staff support will be created within each zone to provide strategic, logistical and administrative support to front-line caseworkers."

The program will start on September 1 and will give victims quick access to emergency financial assistance, such as emergency support for domestic violence victims and relocation assistance for human trafficking victims. Other supports include increasing the 45-day limit on applications to two years and increasing counselling services to $12,000 as well as providing extended medical health benefits to victims with serious injuries. Victims of crime under the new support program will also be eligible for court attendance reimbursement, as well as reimbursement to families of homicide victims for funeral expenses.

"The government must ensure help is accessible and available to victims as they navigate the aftermath of a crime. I want to express our deep gratitude to the many organizations and people across the province that participated in the review," MLA Pitt stated in a press release. "We are pleased that Alberta's government has accepted our recommendations on how we can implement an approach that puts victims first.”

In the coming weeks, the government will continue to engage victim-serving organizations and other stakeholders, including Indigenous communities, on the best way to implement the new service delivery model. The new model will be rolled out in stages over the next year.

 "Current victim services staff will have the opportunity to apply to be victim case workers, and current volunteer advocates will be able to continue their involvement under the new model."

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