BRIDGEWATER, NS, Nov. 10, 2017 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada is committed to a criminal justice system that gives victims and survivors of crime the respect and dignity they deserve.
Victims of sexual assault are often fearful of reporting, of not being believed or supported, and of being subjected to traumatizing cross-examination in court. Helping victims and survivors understand the law, the reporting process, and how these crimes are prosecuted is essential to building public confidence in the criminal justice system.
Today, Bernadette Jordan, Member of Parliament for South Shore–St. Margarets, on behalf of the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, accompanied by the Honourable Mark Furey, Attorney General and Minister of Justice of Nova Scotia, announced funding of $810,000 to the Nova Scotia Department of Justice Victims Services. The funding will be used to provide up to four hours of free and independent legal advice to adult survivors of sexual assault so that they are in a better position to make informed choices. The funding will also be used to develop a resource guide to help survivors of sexual violence navigate the criminal justice system. As well, the funding will help identify the training needs of Crown prosecutors when providing services to vulnerable witnesses in sexual violence cases.
"Our government is committed to working with our provincial and territorial counterparts to create a criminal justice system where victims and survivors are treated with courtesy, compassion, and respect. By working together collaboratively, all levels of governments can continue to empower the resilience of victims and survivors and ensure that their voices are heard. The better we understand and meet the needs of victims of crime, the more just and fair our criminal justice system will become. If victims do not report sexual assaults because they fear they will not be believed, or they lack confidence in the criminal justice system, then the integrity of the system is called into question."
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
"We know that far too frequently, sexual assaults go unreported, often because victims have a lack of trust in our criminal justice system, or a lack of clear advice and support to navigate it. It is clear that more resources must be put in place, to better meet the needs of victims so that they can more confidently come forward and get the information and legal advice they need. I am proud that our government, in partnership with our provincial colleagues, is providing this funding today to allow Nova Scotia Victim Services to provide free advice to survivors, and develop others resources, leading to a better understanding of the needs of victims and greater trust in the system."
Member of Parliament for South Shore–St. Margaret's
"We have heard clearly from women and support groups that we need to provide better supports for victims and survivors of sexual violence. We know the majority of sexual assault cases do not get reported. This pilot program will provide victims with the advice they need to make informed decisions about how they want to move forward."
The Honourable Mark Furey
Attorney General and Minister of Justice of Nova Scotia
- In 2014, 591 sexual assaults were reported to police in Nova Scotia. Data collected through the 2014 General Social Survey also indicate that nearly 90% of sexual assaults occur against women and girls, and that youth between the ages of 15 and 24 are at a greater risk for being sexually victimized. (Source: https://novascotia.ca/coms/svs/)
- This project was developed in response to reports that survivors of sexual assault require advice on their options in regards to the legal process, as well as counsel on what to expect should they chose to proceed through the criminal justice system.
- In the fall of 2016, up to $12 million over three years was made available under the Victims Fund for projects designed to improve the criminal justice system's responses to sexual assaults against adults. This funding has been made available to provinces and territories, municipal governments, band councils, criminal justice professional organizations and non-governmental organizations.
- In 2017, the province of Ontario was provided $800,000 over four years to support a pilot program that includes free legal advice to adult victims and survivors of sexual assault so that they can make informed choices about their legal options available to them in the aftermath of their victimization.
SOURCE Department of Justice Canada
For further information: Kathleen Davis, Communications and Parliamentary Affairs Advisor, Office of the Minister of Justice, 613-992-4621; Media Relations, Department of Justice, 613-957-4207