Program Guidelines on Financial Assistance to Canadians Victimized Abroad

September 2017

Table of Contents

1. Overview

The Federal Victims Strategy consolidates all federal government work related to victims of crime into one objective: to improve access to justice for victims and survivors of crime.

Through the Victims Fund, a component of the Federal Victims Strategy, Canadians who have been the victim of a serious violent crime in another country may be eligible for financial assistance in the case of undue hardship where no other source of financial assistance is available.

Any Canadian citizen may apply for financial assistance if:

  • They are the victim of a serious violent crime in another country, namely an attempted homicide, sexual assault, aggravated assault, or other serious personal violence offence, including against a child;
  • They are a family member of a Canadian victim of a homicide or of a Canadian victim who is ill or incapacitated due to their criminal victimization in another country; or
  • In the case of a child under the age of 18 who is dead, ill or incapacitated due to their victimization, a parent or the person responsible for the care and support of the child.

2. Definitions

For the purposes of financial assistance under the Canadians Victimized Abroad component of the Victims Fund, the following definitions apply:

Victim:
an individual who, while in a country other than Canada, suffers physical and/or emotional harm as a result of the commission of a serious violent crime as defined in this document. Note: witnessing a violent crime is generally insufficient to trigger this financial assistance, except in cases where there is medical evidence that witnessing the offence had a significant traumatic impact on the individual.
Applicant:
an individual who applies for financial assistance under the Canadians Victimized Abroad component of the Victims Fund on behalf of a victim or a dependent.
Support person:
an individual who, at the request of the victim, is present with the victim to provide emotional and physical support during a preliminary hearing or criminal trial for the serious violent crime for which the victim is receiving financial assistance. In certain circumstances, the Canadian Victimized Abroad program may also cover expenses incurred by a support person to be with the victim in the aftermath of an offence (e.g., in cases involving children, victims with a mental or physical disability or vulnerable victims who have been traumatized by their victimization).
Serious Violent Crime:
The following categories are provided to indicate what would be considered a "serious violent crime" if it had occurred in Canada:
  • Homicide - including first and second degree murder, manslaughter, infanticide and criminal negligence causing death;
  • Sexual Assault - all non-consensual sexual activity, including rape, as well as sexual offences against children such as child pornography, child luring, child prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation of children;
  • Aggravated Assault - assault that wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the victim; and
  • Other Serious Personal Violence Offences, including against a child - this includes assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon, kidnapping, hostage taking, human trafficking, and forced marriage.

3. Eligibility for Financial Assistance

In order for the Department of Justice to properly assess the merits and determine eligibility of a request for financial assistance, the following elements will be considered:

3.1 Undue Hardship and No Other Sources of Financial Assistance

The victim/applicant must be faced with unusual or extreme hardship due to the victimization and must have no other source of financial assistance to cover the costs related to the victimization. Victims/applicants must attest to the fact that their costs are not covered by:

  • insurance;
  • fundraising activities including social media campaigns;
  • the services or compensation offered in the country where the crime occurred; or
  • the provincial or territorial jurisdiction of residence upon their return.

3.2 Serious Violent Crime

The victim/applicant must demonstrate that the victim was the subject of a serious violent crime, as defined in this document, in another country. For clarity, this includes violence committed in the context of a terrorist attack or by an intimate partner.

3.3 Exclusions

Excluded offences include simple assault (e.g. where the harm caused in transitory or trifling in nature) and property offences (e.g. theft) that did not also include serious personal violence.

Victims are not eligible for financial assistance if they themselves were involved in the criminal activity that led to their victimization (e.g. involvement in the commission of a crime during which they are injured or suffering from an injury sustained as a result of an attack that they initiated through the use of violence).

Witnessing a violent crime is generally insufficient for an individual to be eligible for financial assistance. Exceptions may be made in cases where there is medical evidence that witnessing a serious offence had a significant traumatic impact on the applicant (e.g. witnessing a terrorist attack or a particularly brutal crime).

3.4 Limitation Period

Requests for financial assistance will be considered if an application is submitted within two years after the criminal incident occurred. Extensions to this limitation period may be provided in exceptional circumstances where the victim is able to demonstrate that he/she was unable to apply earlier for reasons beyond his/her control.

3.5 Citizenship/Residency

The victim/applicant must be a Canadian citizen at the time of the criminal victimization in another country. Victim/applicants holding dual citizenship are also eligible. All applicants must meet the following residency requirements to be eligible for financial assistance:

  • Where a victim/applicant had been residing in another country for more than two years at the time of the criminal victimization, the victim/applicant will not be eligible for financial assistance, unless they can demonstrate that they:
    • are enrolled full or part time in an educational institution or program;
    • have a valid temporary work permit; or
    • have maintained a residence in Canada and intend to return to Canada to reside within 6 month of the criminal victimization.

4. Expenses

4.1 Eligible Expenses

The following expenses are eligible if they are not already covered by the victim's/applicant's employment, medical or travel insurance, funds raised through crowd-sourcing or another type of campaign, or if they are not covered by victim services or the compensation scheme in the country where the crime took place. This list is not exhaustive.

Non-Medical Expenses:
  • the return of the body of a Canadian deceased as a result of being the victim of a homicide in another country;
  • travel expenses (economy airfare/bus/train) for a Canadian victim of crime to return to Canada, including expenses incurred to change tickets already purchased at the time of the victimization;
  • travel expenses (economy airfare/bus/train, accommodation, meals and incidentals based on Government of Canada rates) for one support person to be with a Canadian victimized abroad, during the immediate aftermath of the crime, up to a maximum of 60 days;
  • travel expenses (economy airfare/bus/train, accommodation, meals and incidentals based on Government of Canada rates) for a victim to return to the country where the crime occurred in order to testify at the preliminary hearing and/or trial of the accused, if the host country is unwilling or unable to pay the full amount, up to a total maximum of 60 days. Requests for the reimbursement of these costs must be accompanied by official documentation/notice of the hearing and/or trial date(s);
  • travel expenses (economy airfare/bus/train, accommodation, meals and incidentals based on Government of Canada rates) of one support person to be with a Canadian victimized abroad who is returning to the country where the crime occurred in order to testify at the preliminary hearing and/or trial of the accused, up to a maximum of 60 days. Requests for the reimbursement of these costs must be accompanied by official documentation/notice of the hearing and/or trial date(s);
  • out-of-pocket expenses directly linked to the aftermath of the victimization (such as taxi fares to travel to the police station or the Canadian embassy or consulate and long distance phone call immediately following the crime);
  • expenses to replace stolen official documents needed to return to Canada, such as a passport;
  • expenses related to the payment of a consular fee;
  • expenses related to the translation of the police reports, medical reports and/or court documents into English or French; and
  • expenses related to obtaining a statutory declaration, where the victim was unable to report the crime to police and consular affairs.
Medical-Related Expenses:
  • hospital, medical (including medevac, prescriptions and other treatments determined necessary by a physician) or counselling (psychologist, psychiatrist or psychotherapist) expenses incurred in the country where the crime took place that are a direct result of the victimization;
  • financial assistance for professional counselling or therapy (with a registered psychologist or psychotherapist, a psychiatrist or otherwise recommended by a physician), up to a total maximum of $5,000 over a period not exceeding five years following the incident;
  • financial assistance for professional counselling or therapy for minor or dependent children of an adult victim (with a registered psychologist or psychotherapist, a psychiatrist or otherwise recommended by a physician), up to a total maximum of $1,000 over a period not exceeding one year following the incident, where the child was exposed to the offence (such as witnessing, hearing or experiencing the aftermath of domestic violence against one of their parents while abroad);
  • medical or dental costs directly related to the commission of the crime that are not covered by private or public health insurance and required in accordance with a physician's note (such as dental repairs for broken teeth, replacement of broken glasses, or a wheelchair destroyed during the commission of the crime);
  • prescriptions in Canada that are directly linked to the impact of the offence (such as the "morning after pill", prescriptions to prevent sexually transmitted infections, and anti-anxiety or pain medication) with a physician's note setting out the direct link to the offence, for a maximum of six months;
  • funeral expenses to a maximum of $2,500, where not otherwise covered.

4.2 Ineligible Expenses

The following expenses are not covered under the Victims Fund:

  • expenses covered by the victim's / applicant's employment, medical and/or travel insurance, or any other source of funding;
  • expenses covered by the country where the crime took place;
  • expenses covered by the province or territory of residence upon return to Canada;
  • lost wages;
  • compensation costs (indemnity payments to cover anticipated future losses of income, or to compensate for material, physical or psychological losses due to the criminal victimization);
  • ransoms (money or any other valuable consideration paid or promised to secure the release of an individual or item held in captivity);
  • bribes (money or any other valuable consideration given or promised with a view to corrupting the behavior of a person, such as a public official, etc.);
  • legal fees;
  • hospital, medical and dental expenses not otherwise provided for in subsection 3.2;
  • chiropractic, massage, or other alternative medicinal approaches (such as yoga), unless prescribed by a medical practitioner and clearly linked to the criminal victimization; and
  • expenses incurred for crimes that took place before April 1, 2007.

4.3 Funds Raised through Other Sources

Where a victim/applicant/family member/friend raises funds through social media mechanisms, or personal fundraising websites to cover the expenses incurred as a result of the criminal victimization in another country, the victim/applicant will be required to attest that these funds are not being used to cover the same expenses for which the victim/applicant is seeking reimbursement from the Department of Justice.

5. Planning Your Trip

5.1 General Information

Prior to travelling abroad, Canadians should visit the Travelling Abroad section of the Government of Canada's Travel website: www.travel.gc.ca/travelling. It contains valuable information related to health and insurance coverage, along with other helpful tips.

5.2 Insurance Coverage

Travel insurance is available through travel agencies, insurance brokers or an employer's insurance provider. Credit card companies may also offer travel and health insurance when credit cards are used to cover the costs of the travel.

The travel insurance should include health, life and disability coverage that will assist in avoiding or reducing large expenses, such as the cost of hospitalization or medical treatment outside Canada. If a Canadian is flying, being insured for flight cancellation, trip interruption, lost luggage and document replacement will save a Canadian from major disruptions and additional costs. If travelling by car, a Canadian should make sure to have driver and vehicle coverage in case of an accident in another country.

Canadians should read and understand the eligibility requirements, terms and conditions, limitations, restrictions and exclusions of the policy.

6. Reimbursement of Costs

An individual will be reimbursed for eligible expenses based on submitting official receipts. An official receipt is an original document or carbon copy showing the date and amount of expenditure paid along with the name, address, phone number and any other information that indicates that the costs were incurred by the individual. All currency other than Canadian dollars must be identified. A hand-written receipt that simply states that the individual gave an amount to another person does not constitute an official receipt.

Where the individual certifies that a receipt was lost, accidentally destroyed or unobtainable, a personal declaration may replace the receipt.

6.1 Advanced Payments

In some cases, where a victim/applicant attests to an inability to incur costs up front and then seek reimbursement from Justice Canada, an advanced payment up to a maximum of 70% of total estimated costs may be issued. The issuance of advanced payments is discretionary and is the decision of the Director responsible for the management of the Victims Fund.

6.2 Direct Deposit

Payments will be issued through direct deposit into the victim/applicant's bank account, unless the victim/applicant:

  • provides a valid reason as to why he/she cannot accept direct deposit;
  • resides in a foreign country, other than the United States;
  • resides in the United States and does not have an account with the Bank of America.

7. Application Process

A Canadian victimized in another country, or an applicant on their behalf, may apply for funding by completing the Application Form and sending it to the Department of Justice Canada for consideration. Applications may be sent electronically, by fax or by mail with supporting documentation (i.e., police reports). Decisions on the eligibility of a victim/applicant and the amount of funding are made as soon as possible after a fully completed application is received. Victims/applicants are advised by letter of the decision, including confirmation of the expenses that will be covered.

8. False Declaration

A false declaration may result in a requirement to repay the amounts provided and could constitute fraud for which the victim/applicant may be criminally liable.

9. Other Considerations

9.1 Consular Assistance

Canadians can receive consular services while outside of Canada through the Department of Global Affairs Canada. To find out the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate visit: http://travel.gc.ca/assistance/embassies.

A Canadian who becomes a victim of a serious violent crime in another country should immediately report (or attempt to report) the crime to the local Canadian Embassy or Consulate. The primary concern of the Embassy or Consulate staff is the victim's personal and physical safety. Consular staff can assist with:

  • arranging help in a medical emergency;
  • providing guidance on sources of information about local laws and regulations;
  • contacting next of kin, where authorized, in the event of an accident or death;
  • request that local authorities investigate suspicious circumstances in the event of an alleged or apparent crime or death; and
  • in certain emergency and exceptional circumstances, provide a Canadian with a loan for a flight back to Canada.

9.2 Reporting the Crime to Police

A Canadian victimized abroad should contact local police to report the incident and obtain immediate help with safety concerns. It is important to obtain a copy of the police report. The police report serves a number of purposes. It may provide the victim with contact information, and it may be required for insurance purposes. A copy of the police report, where available, should accompany the Application for Financial Assistance from the Victims Fund. If the police report is not in English or in French, a summary of the report in either official language should be attached to the report. Where the victim was unable to contact police or unable to obtain a copy of the police report, the victim must provide affidavit evidence attesting to the fact that a crime was perpetrated against them (see Annex 1).

9.3 Affidavit / Sworn Declaration

In certain circumstances, it may be difficult for a victim to report a crime to police in a foreign country, particularly a sexual assault. In such circumstances, the Department will accept affidavit evidence.

Affidavit
An affidavit is a statement made in writing, sworn to or affirmed, in front of a person having the authority to administer an oath or affirmation.
Sample Affidavit Form
Attached as Annex 1 is a sample of an affidavit form that could the used by a Canadian who has been victimized abroad as a result of a serious crime.

10. Extraordinary Circumstances

The Director General responsible for the management of the Victims Fund retains discretion to make exceptions to these guidelines where the rationale for the exception is clearly articulated and consistent with the objectives and limitations of the Victims Fund.

11. Service Charter

The Department is committed to providing quality services to all clients whether through e-mail, written correspondence or over the telephone.

We pledge to:

  • serve you in the official language of your choice;
  • treat you with respect and courtesy;
  • provide accurate, timely and helpful service;
  • explain our processes and decisions;
  • respond to any requests and complaints quickly; and
  • protect your private information according the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

We ask that you:

  • leave a message when you call so that we can respond and monitor our response times;
  • understand that we sometimes have a high volume of applications; and
  • refrain from using inappropriate language or behaviour, in order to foster an environment of mutual respect and understanding.

11.1 Service Standards

The following standards are identified for the timely and accurate delivery of services:

Acknowledgement
Our goal is to acknowledge receipt of your funding application within 5 business days of receiving your application.
Respond to Communication
Our goal is to respond to all phone calls, written correspondence and emails within 2 business days of receiving your message or correspondence.
Payments
Our goal is to process payments within 20 business days after the completion of the requirements outlined in the contribution letter.

11.2 Language of Service

We provide service in both official languages - English or French - whether in written correspondence, online, or on the telephone.

11.3 Hours of Service and Contact Information

Website
You can access information on the Canadian Victimized Abroad component of the Victims Fund online 24 hours a day, seven days a week at: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fund-fina/cj-jp/fund-fond/abroad-etranger.html.
Victims Fund Email and Contact Information

You can send us comments, questions or a completed funding application online at either of the following email addresses:

Emails are monitored Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays), between 8:30 and 16:30 (Eastern Standard Time).

Our mailing is:

Victims Fund Manager
Programs Branch
Department of Justice Canada
284 Wellington Street, 6th Floor
Ottawa ON K1A 0H8

Toll-free telephone line
You can call us at 1-888-606-5111 from Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays) between 8:30 and 16:30 (Eastern Standard Time). Outside of these hours or in the event that we are dealing with another call or an urgent, a confidential voicemail can be left. Your call will be returned within 2 business days.

11.4 Feedback

The Department of Justice strives to proactively improve your service experience. As our client, your needs and preferences are important to us. Positive and constructive feedback are always welcome and should be sent by email to pb-dgp@justice.gc.ca.

11.5 Monitoring

The service standard results above are monitored to identify service issues and trends. Departmental results will be posted on the Department of Justice website.

12. Evergreen Policy Document

This policy is an evergreen document and can be amended from time to time in order to ensure that the policy remains aligned to government priorities.

Annex 1 - Sample Affidavit Form

CANADA
PROVINCE/TERRITORY OF
(Territorial division)

If outside of Canada, show place where taken:

TO WIT:

I, (insert your full name), residing at (insert your address), am, (insert your occupation).

MAKE OATH OR AFFIRMATION AND SAY:

That I was the victim of a serious crime, namely (insert crime) on the (insert day, month, year) in (insert location and country) for which I was unable to obtain a police report because (insert reason).


Signature of affiant

SWORN OR AFFIRMED before me at the (insert city, town) in the (insert county, district) in the Province/Territory of (insert province/territory) this day of , .


(name - in full)
Commissioner of Oaths

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