Crime Victim Assistance Program (4:III)

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The Crime Victim Assistance Act [CVAA] is the primary piece of legislation that governs the Crime Victim Assistance Program (CVAP).

Although the CVAA and the Criminal Injury Compensation Act, RSBC 1996, c 85 [CICA] are both in force, it is expected that the CICA will ultimately be repealed. The transitional provisions of the CVAA allow previously adjudicated claims under the old Act to be transferred to the new Act for ongoing administration and for any further reviews.

It is important to remember that, unlike under the old Act, a person cannot be awarded damages for pain, suffering, mental trauma, etc. under the CVAA – although a person can be awarded a variety of benefits, such as counselling, medical expenses, and other services or expenses. The CVAP replaces the Criminal Injury Compensation Program. The Victim Services and Crime Prevention Division of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General administers this program.

The CVAP has been developed in response to the changing needs of victims and others impacted by violent crime. Benefits are available to victims of crime, their immediate family members, and those who meet the legislation’s definition of “witness”. One should note that the Program is not based on a compensation model, but rather is based on a financial assistance model. This provides eligible claimants with financial support as well as additional services and assistance to aid in their recovery from the physical and psychological effects of their victimization, and to offset the costs of the victimization.

Under the CVAA, a victim can still:

  • initiate civil proceedings on their own
  • make a claim under the Act

If a victim wishes to initiate civil proceedings after making an application under the CVAA, the CVAP Director must receive a copy of the notice of civil claim within 10 days of service on the defendant (CVAA, s 15(1)). After paying fees and disbursements, any money awarded to the victim in the civil proceedings must go toward paying back the money they received under the CVAA.

The fact that an accused has not been criminally charged or has been acquitted of criminal charges is not a bar to commencing civil proceedings as the legal issues and the standard of proof are different. The difficulty with recovering anything directly from the accused is that there is seldom anything to be collected.

Moreover, the procedure for making an application for assistance under the CVAA is less complicated than initiating a civil action.

1. The CVAA Does Not Apply to All Offences

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by the Law Students' Legal Advice Program on August 7, 2020.
© Copyright 2021, The Greater Vancouver Law Students' Legal Advice Society.