More victims of crime than ever are receiving state assistance, and the vast majority of beneficiaries are women.
This is the observation made by the Minister of Justice, Simon Jolin-Barrette, when marking the 12 days of action against violence against women.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Mr. Jolin-Barrette welcomed the positive impacts of the reform of compensation for victims of crime (IVAC) that he had adopted two years ago.
“This is one of the laws that I have introduced that I am most proud of, because it concretely helps Quebecers in vulnerable situations,” he declared.
He points out that over the past two years, more than 28,500 requests for help from victims have been accepted. This is almost double what was accepted before the reform.
Of this number, 4,000 requests were accepted for an offense which was not previously covered, according to data from the General Directorate of IVAC transmitted to the minister.
The reform ensured that the list of admissible offenses was canceled so that from now on all offenses against the person listed in the Criminal Code would be covered.
Thus, 43 offenses which were not recognized by the IVAC regime before the reform are now recognized; think of uttering threats, criminal harassment and pimping, for example.
For the uttering of threats alone, nearly 2,000 victims were able to benefit from financial support in 2022 and 2023.
Furthermore, processing times to obtain a decision fell from 123 to 33 days, and the acceptance rate increased from 82% to nearly 95%, also underlines Mr. Jolin-Barrette.
According to him, the more services are known, the more victims will feel comfortable asking for help.
“Victims must feel important, considered in the justice system, and we put in place measures to support them,” he says.
He recalls, for example, that in matters of sexual assault and domestic violence, the victim does not need to file a police report to receive help.
In the event that a process is initiated, the accused does not have to be convicted of the crime for the victim to benefit from the services of the IVAC.
Still in matters of sexual assault and domestic violence, the request for qualification can be made at any time. There is no longer a limitation period.
A sexual assault victim who has been denied a request for help in the past has until October 2024 to reapply.
And the IVAC attributes an income (the equivalent of the minimum wage) to a housewife or a student, for example, victim of an assault, who is unemployed at the time of the crime.
Moreover, it is possible for a person who feels in danger to obtain emergency financial assistance to leave their home and find refuge.
Another change: a Quebec citizen who is the victim of a crime abroad can receive financial assistance.
Generally speaking, last year, 78.4% of applications accepted by the IVAC came from women, compared to 21.6% for men.
“The figure of 4,000 people who were not eligible and who can now benefit from support from the IVAC is enormous,” said Mr. Jolin-Barrette in an interview.
“It’s more than we thought. I’m glad people are using IVAC. […] The sooner they get support, the sooner they will be able to recover. »
According to the minister, the Quebec IVAC plan is the most generous in the country. “Quebec is more generous than the nine other federated states put together,” he stressed.