Fort McMurray Victim Services Unit provides support to victims of crime and trauma.
The Fort McMurray Victim Services Unit provides victims of crime and trauma with high quality support, information and referrals in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. The Unit’s service lessens the crisis and facilitates a return to stability resulting in an improved quality of life for the victim.
As a result, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo will enjoy a heightened public awareness and an open attitude to accessing community services.
In short, Victim Services prevents further victimization, empowers victims, assists the RCMP, and helps to better the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
- RCMP Based
- Community Board of Directors (10)
- 6 Full time Employees
- One Part Time Admin Support Worker
- 23 Trained Advocates
- Advocates are on-call 24 hrs a day – 365 days a year.
Victim Services Board
In keeping with current emphasis by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on community-based policing, the Wood Buffalo Detachment recognized the special needs of victims of crime and trauma through the support for the Victim Services Organization established in 1987 by an interested group of volunteers. The Fort McMurray Victim Services Society was registered as a non-profit organization in 1991 and operates in association with the Wood Buffalo RCMP. Victim Services serves all communities within the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. The majority of victim referrals are made by the RCMP.
Fort McMurray Victim Services is a charitable, not-for-profit organization that has a society status.
For more information regarding Victims of Crime please visit the Solicitor General website.
Victims of Crime Act
In 1997, the Alberta Government proclaimed the Victims of Crime Act. This act replaced the Criminal Injuries Compensation and Victims Programs Assistance Acts, consolidating assistance and other services to victims under one legislation. It established the authority to collect surcharges on provincial statute offenses, defined principles respecting the treatment of victims, provides victims with rights to obtain information and introduced financial benefits for victims. Under the act, surcharges on federal offenses already being collected and provincial fine surcharge revenue collected are deposited into a fund which is used to support two primary programs, the Financial Benefits Program and a Grants Program.
Financial Benefits Program
In Alberta, victims who have suffered physical or emotional injury as a direct result of a violent crime can apply for financial benefits. Those injured as a direct result of a violent crime may be eligible for a one-time financial benefit based on the severity of injuries sustained. Payment is determined by the severity of the injury rather than on the losses or costs incurred and is made regardless of the victim’s financial position or sources of income. The program’s intent is to recognize or acknowledge victimization rather than attempt compensation for loss.
Victim Impact Statement
Under provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada and the Youth Criminal Justice Act, a Victim Impact Statement allows a victim to express in writing to a Judge how being a victim of crime has affected him/her and those close to him/her.
The purpose of the Victim Impact Statement is to describe how the crime has affected the victim emotionally and physically and the impact the crime has had on his/ her life. If charges are laid, and if the accused person is found guilty, the Victim Impact Statement will be considered by the Judge during sentencing.
A person suffering financial loss as a result of a crime may have the right to seek restitution from the offender. Restitution may also be sought from young offenders, however, limitations may apply. Restitution is a way for the offender to repay for the loss the victim has suffered. The victim is required to complete a request for restitution form, which will be provided by a police officer investigating the case. If a Request for Restitution is not given, the victim should request one. Once filled out, the form should be returned to the police as quickly as possible. The Police will then send the form to the Crown Prosecutor, who will determine whether an application will be made in court.
Groups and organizations that provide services that benefit victims of crime are eligible to apply for a Victims of Crime Program grant. A committee representing government, police and the community evaluates applications for funding submitted April 1 and October 1 of each year and makes recommendations.
Since proclamation of the Victims Programs Assistance Act in 1991 and the Victims of Crime Act in 1997, victim assistance programs have expanded throughout the province. With the support of local communities, police services and the Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security, over 100 victim services units have been established to provide information, assistance and courtroom support to victims during the criminal justice process.
As well as grants for police-affiliated programs, funding has also been approved for specialized programs that help prepare victims for court, assist victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, assist child victims, and assist Aboriginals.
Protection Against Family Violence Act
Family violence under the Protection Against Family Violence Act includes any act, threatened act or failure to act that causes injury or property damage (or causes a reasonable fear of injury or property damage). To qualify as family violence, these acts must be carried out with the intention to intimidate or harm a family member. Forced confinement and sexual abuse are also part of this definition. What is not included are those situations where a parent uses force to correct a child. However, the force used must be reasonable in the circumstances.
For more information about Alberta’s Protection Against Family Violence Act, you can go to www.law-faqs.org/ab/pafva.htm.
Volunteer with Fort McMurray Victim Services!
After successful completion of the Alberta Solicitor General 40 hour training and swearing of an oath of confidentiality, potential volunteers may be qualified as advocates with Fort McMurray Victim Services. Once qualified, the advocate, always working as part of a crisis team, will respond immediately to requests from the RCMP to provide short term emotional support and practical assistance to victims of crime or tragic circumstances. The advocate will ensure that appropriate options and/or referrals are provided to the victim.
Time Commitment: In order to effectively serve the needs of our communities, our advocates make a one year commitment during which they are required to commit 4-12 hr shifts per month.
Respond immediately to requests for service from the RCMP by attending on scene or at an alternate safe location. On occasion, crisis intervention may be provided by telephone.
Provide emotional support that empowers the victim, including answering questions and providing information that will help lessen the impact of the crisis for the victim.
Identify longer term needs by responding to the victim’s concerns and supply the victim with appropriate options and referrals to services in the community that will assist them in accessing resources for further assistance.
Prepare necessary reports, liaise with RCMP and other agencies
Participating in quarterly training meetings and any other training opportunities.
Report to the Executive Director if a victim service call or assignment is particularly stressful for attending advocate(s). Debriefing is available to assist.
- Ability to maintain strict confidentiality of all issues surrounding calls for service to victims, information shared in advocate training and information about the organization.
- Mature and responsible
- Pass a criminal record check and security clearance
- Valid Driver’s License
- Ability to deal effectively with crisis situations
- Listening skills
- Good written and verbal communication skills
- Ability to commit one year of service
Vital to Fort McMurray Victim Services are its partnerships with the community. The cooperation we have with the community is a part of what makes our organization successful.
Fort McMurray Victim Services is funded by the following sources:
- Alberta Solicitor General
- Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
- Donations (private)
- Fundraising events
A special thanks to the many volunteers and sponsors who make the Victim Services Program possible.
Victim Services is both a community and police-based program which receives financial assistance from individuals and local organizations. If you or your organization would like to make a donation, please forward it to Fort McMurray Victim Services, Box 5712, Fort McMurray, AB T9H 4V9. Tax Deductible receipt available upon request.
There are several community agencies that we partner with to assist our clients and their needs:
- Alberta Health and Wellness
- Alberta Solicitor General
- Canadian Mental Health Association
- Center of Hope
- Family Community Support Services – Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
- Fort McMurray Crown Prosecutor
- Fort McMurray Family Crisis Society
- Fort McMurray Food Bank
- Legal Aid
- Marshall House
- Native Counselling
- Northeast Alberta Child and Family Services Agency
- Pastew Place
- Salvation Army
- Some Other Solutions
- Wood Buffalo RCMP
- YMCA Immigrant Services