Prime Time Crime


(Prime Time Crime Mar. 16, 2009)


Uneven Scales of Justice


   By Sandra Martins-Toner

For many years the Government of Canada has worked diligently on trying to ensure that those who have committed crimes are coddled and spoon fed from the moment they commit a criminal act. They are given legal aid paid for by the hardworking citizens of Canada, the people these offences were committed against in the first place. From the bottom up through the court systems these criminals are taken care of thoroughly.

What about the victims and the families whose lives are shattered by these violent crimes, you ask? Well, frankly there is not much in place to help them navigate through the entire process. Although, our Government would like you to think differently, I can tell you first hand having been thrust into advocacy after my child was murdered, even years later I am left feeling incredibly frustrated. The Crime Victims Assistance Program claims to have over 100 programs in place for the victims/families, however qualifying or accessing these programs can be complicated.

I am dumbfounded by the plethora of resources in place for those convicted of violent crimes. By the time they’re released from prison, they may have completed High School, College or University with degrees in law or any other career that takes their fancy. I cannot understand why the victims/families are left to fight for every and any little thing that is offered to us by the Government.

I have watched families practically beg for more resources, everything from therapy to lost wages. Why, why must they beg for something they so rightfully deserve and need? Why have the scales of Justice become so uneven? Violent crime across our country is out of control, yet our Government will tell you differently. The trauma left in its wake has left victims/families scrambling for resources, resources they may never be entitled to due to current legislation.

We can spend hours running through the therapeutic, vocational, and restorative justice programs in place for the offenders, but where the heck are these so called Government funded programs for the victims/families?

Corrections Services Canada provides for the offenders programs that are designed to serve the specific needs of various groups. For example, aboriginal and women offenders have special needs that require carefully targeted programs. Can anyone tell me whether I get a choice of counsellors or therapists who specialize in dealing with the traumatic loss of a child or a loved one? I think not! If you would like to see a therapist that is covered or funded by the Crime Victims Assistance Program, you get whomever they have. Should you find another therapist you would like to see, the victims must cover the cost over and above the agencies set hourly rate. 

CSC also provides assistance to the families of offenders, and a Chaplaincy Program should the offenders wish to addresses their spiritual needs. What is wrong with this picture?

I have had Government senior officials tell me that British Columbia has the best Victims Assistance Programs and resources in Canada, and at that statement I laugh. Perhaps the bureaucrats who are making 70k and upwards a year should try to live on the $8.00 per hour they give the victims/families in lost wages. Only until you have lived a day in our lives can you really say whether or not the benefits we receive are fair and just, but until then you have no right to speak of what’s acceptable.  

Our Government is failing us miserably. They have not kept their promise to provide good Government and the safety and security of all Canadian citizens. Should there not be an immediate remedy, this Country will suffer terribly and irrevocably. Victims/Families who have sat by watching are now beginning to rise up and speak out against this travesty. Victims repressed and discarded by the Criminal Courts and the Canadian Government are standing united across the country to be heard and acknowledged.

(F.A.C.T.) Families Against Crime & Trauma, is committed to continuing to advocate for the victims/families whose lives have been shattered due to violent crimes against them. No one should have to suffer the loss of a child or a loved one, and then be re-victimized by a system that pampers those who commit these horrific crimes.  We are no longer willing to be placated and ignored.

Sandra Martins-Toner is the founder and executive Director of F.A.C.T. and can be contacted at


VICTORIA - Solicitor-General John van Dongen kept his promise to fast forward the debt-heavy Kosonen-Corbett family's bid for help with costs that have accumulated since their daughter's death.  But he needn't have bothered.  It's no secret the BC Crime Victims Assistance Program claims to assist traumatized victims and their families -- but, in reality, many find they're eligible for next to nothing.



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