Archived information

The 2015 version of this handbook has been archived. To access the 2024 version of A Handbook for Criminal Justice Practitioners on Trafficking in Persons, please visit:

A Handbook for Criminal Justice Practitioners on Trafficking in Persons

6. Overview of Victim Services in Canada

6.1 Overview of Victim Services in Canada

Every victim of crime in Canada, including victims of human trafficking offences, should be provided with information about available services.  This principle is enshrined in the 2003 Canadian Statement of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime, which was endorsed by federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Justice in recognition of the harmful impact of criminal victimization on individuals and on society.  While not every victim will wish to receive services, it is important that each victim is made aware of the range of available services.  This is particularly true for victims of trafficking offences, due to the exploitation inherent in such offences and the extreme conditions which victims of trafficking typically endure, often for prolonged periods of time.

While many victims of crime will benefit from services, victims of more serious and violent crimes such as human trafficking may be more vulnerable and therefore in greater need of appropriate services.  However, victims of trafficking may be more reluctant to seek or accept services due to the mistrust and fear which results from their trafficking experiences.

Social and economic disadvantage create an increased risk of being trafficked.  This vulnerability is exacerbated by the extreme conditions experienced by trafficking victims including isolation from family and social supports, manipulation, control, repeated assaults and/or sexual assaults or threats of such crimes to themselves and their families.  For this reason, it is particularly important that all criminal-justice personnel are aware of available services to ensure that every opportunity is taken to make services available to victims of human trafficking.

Responsibility for victims of crime is shared by the federal, provincial and territorial governments with the majority of services for victims of crime provided by the provinces and territories.  Each of the provinces and territories has established services for victims of crime in accordance with their provincial/territorial victims’ legislation, and each has developed a model of service delivery that it considers most suited to the needs of victims in their jurisdiction.  Models for the delivery of victim services include:

Further information on the types of services offered by each province and territory to is provided below.  Depending on the model of service delivery, services which may benefit victims of trafficking offences may be offered directly by the provincial or territorial government, or may be funded by the provincial/territorial government and provided by a community-based organization.  Whatever the model of service delivery, the provincial/territorial victim-services organization should always be contacted to determine which services are available and most appropriate for a victim of a human trafficking offence.  In addition, the Victims Services Directory, created and maintained by the Department of Justice, lists services available to victims of crime across Canada.

Collaboration among police, prosecutors and victim-services organizations is essential to ensuring that victims of trafficking know about and receive appropriate support. Victims who receive appropriate services are more likely to rebuild their lives and become fully functioning members of society, and are less likely to experience trauma when participating in criminal justice proceedings.

6.2 British Columbia

In British Columbia, Victim Services and Crime Prevention in the Ministry of Justice provides funding and support to more than 160 police-based and community-based victim service programs, as well as a toll-free, provincial-wide, 24-hour multilingual victim crisis line (VictimLink BC).  Funding and support is also provided to more than 250 programs that provide counselling and outreach services to women fleeing violence in their relationships and to children who witness abuse.

In addition, Victim Services and Crime Prevention deliver direct services to victims through:

For further information on Victims Services in British Columbia and contact information please visit:

The Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons (OCTIP)

British Columbia’s Ministry of Justice also operates The Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons (OCTIP).  Its mandate is to develop and coordinate B.C.’s response to human trafficking by:

For further information, including access to British Columbia’s online training course for first responders, please visit:

6.3 Alberta

Alberta Justice and Solicitor General operates two core programs for victims of crime:

Police-based and community-based services

Alberta provides funding to 76 police-based victims programs operating out of 139 service delivery areas in the province.  Services provided to victims include: practical emotional support, information about their case and criminal justice proceedings; information about available medical, legal and social services; referrals to other community agencies; and courtroom orientation and accompaniment.

Police-based programs also provide victims of crime with information about completing victim impact statements, requesting restitution, and applying for financial benefits. These programs provide a continuum of services to victims from the time of first response by police to the disposition of the case by the courts.

An additional 35 funding agreements with community agencies and organizations are in place to deliver specialized assistance and programming to address gaps for vulnerable victims such as children, and those subjected to human trafficking.

For further information on services for victims of crime in Alberta and contact information please visit:

Financial Benefits

The Financial Benefits Program provides a financial benefit to eligible victims of violent crime in Alberta as an acknowledgment of their victimization.  Benefits are based on the victim’s verified injuries.  The injury benefit amounts are listed in the Victims of Crime Regulation.  To be considered for a financial benefit, victims must report the crime to police within a reasonable period of time and cooperate with the investigation of the incident.  Applications must be received within two years of the date of the incident; however, this time limit may be extended in extenuating circumstances.  Charges do not have to be laid, or a conviction registered to apply for the program.

For further information on Alberta’s Financial Benefits Program please visit:

6.4 Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan Justice Victims Services funds or delivers directly a range of services for victims of crime.  These services include:

For more information on the range of victim services offered by Saskatchewan Justice and contact information please see the following link:

6.5 Manitoba

Manitoba Justice provides services to victims of domestic violence, child victims and witnesses and victims of the most serious crimes as specified under Manitoba’s Victims’ Bill of Rights Act (VBR).

The VBR includes the offence of human trafficking as well as offences often committed against trafficking victims such as assault, aggravated assault, sexual assault and living off the avails of a prostitute under 18 years of age.

The VBR specifies the rights of victims of the most serious crimes in their dealings with police, prosecutors, courts and corrections officials.  Victim-services workers help victims register for their rights and explain how and when they may exercise them.

The types of services provided to victims by Manitoba Justice Victim Services include providing information on court and the criminal justice system; information on what to expect when a victim receives a subpoena for court; court preparation; court support; safety planning and protection planning; counselling referrals; information on possible financial assistance that may be available to victims of crime; information about victim impact statements and guidance on how to prepare them; information on the offender’s sentence once she or he is convicted, and how to contact the correctional facility if the offender receives a jail sentence; information on how to find out about the offender’s release from a provincial jail; and information on how to register with the Parole Board of Canada, if the offender is sentenced to a federal institution.

Victim services may provide support to victims of human trafficking through a variety of programs.  Victim services programs include:

Further information about the programs offered by Manitoba Justice Victim Services and contact information may be found at:

The Compensation for Victims of Crime program provides compensation to victims who suffer personal injury, hardships or expenses as a result of crimes listed in the Victims’ Rights Regulation of The Victims Bill of Rights Act. The program is also available to specific relatives and dependants of victims of homicide in Manitoba. Compensation may cover reasonable expenses (not already covered by another source) resulting from a crime, such as payment of medical expenses and counselling services, compensation for lost wages for victims who have been disabled or for dependants of victims who were fatally injured, support payments for dependents, payment for rehabilitation or retraining, compensation for permanent disability and payment of funeral expenses.

For further information on Manitoba’s Compensation for Crime Victims program please visit:

Victim services particularly helpful for some victims of human trafficking include explaining the criminal court process and procedures, court preparation (including a visit to the courtroom to help familiarize them with their surroundings and make them feel more comfortable); identifying special needs and the potential for aids to help with testimony; attending court with witnesses, when possible; scheduling meetings with Crown attorneys to discuss any special issues; arranging short-term counselling; providing emotional support; providing referrals to community resources, such as therapists or treatment programs and providing information and guidance on how to prepare victim impact statements.

6.6 Ontario

Ontario Victims Services supports a number of programs and services to assist victims of crime.  Police and a wide range of community organizations also provide specialized services to meet the needs of victims of crime in Ontario.  Some of the programs and services offered in Ontario which might be of assistance to victims of trafficking include:

Further information services for victims in Ontario and contact information may be found at:


Anyone injured as a result of a violent crime in Ontario may apply to Ontario’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Board for compensation within two years of the offence.  Some examples of compensable expenses include treatment expenses, loss of income and awards for pain and suffering.  Please see the following link for further information on Ontario’s program:

6.7 Québec

Québec’s Department of Justice is responsible for the Crime Victims Assistance Office or BAVAC (Bureau d’aide aux victimes d’actes criminels) which promotes the establishment of crime victim assistance centres or CAVACs, (Centres d’aide aux victimes d’actes criminels).  BAVAC provides technical, professional and financial assistance to establish, maintain and develop sixteen CAVACs throughout Québec. CAVACs are non-profit community organizations that participate in the implementation of Quebec’s victim-assistance program.

Services provided by CAVACs include providing information on the criminal justice process, the progress of the case and court dates; providing information about Quebec’s crime victim-compensation program and assisting victims in completing applications for compensation; providing support throughout the criminal justice process and providing referrals to specialized services.

For further information on Victims Services in Quebec please see:


Anyone who has been injured as a result of a crime listed in the schedule to Québec’s Crime Victims Compensation Act may apply for compensation to Québec’s Direction de l’indemnisation des victimes d’actes criminels (IVAC).  In cases where a victim has been killed, other persons connected to the victim may make the application.  The application must be submitted during the year in which the victim’s injury or death occurs.  Available compensation and services include reimbursement of medical expenses, benefits for permanent disability, rehabilitation services and death benefits.

For further information on Quebec’s Crime Victim Compensation Program please see:

6.8 New Brunswick

The Department of Public Safety’s Victim Services Program provides direct services to victims of crime through a system-based model in 15 offices across New Brunswick. The objective is to provide a continuum of services to the victim throughout the criminal justice process.  Such support to victims helps to minimize their re-victimization by the criminal justice system.  Available services include:

For further information on New Brunswick’s Compensation for Victims of Crime Program please visit:

For further information on New Brunswick’s Victims Services Program please visit:

6.9 Nova Scotia

The Department of Justice Victim Services in Nova Scotia uses a system-based model, operates four interdependent province-wide programs and provides services through community-based and police-based programs that meet specific needs.

For further information on Nova Scotia’s Victim Services Programs, please visit:

6.10 Newfoundland and Labrador

The Department of Justice’s Victim Services Program provides services through a system-based program; 11 regional offices operate throughout the province.

For further information on Newfoundland and Labrador’s Victim Services Program, please visit:

6.11 Prince Edward Island

The Victim Services section of Prince Edward Island’s Department of Environment, Labour and Justice operates a province-wide program to assist victims of crime throughout their involvement with the criminal justice system.  Services include information about the status of a victim’s case, the criminal justice system, criminal injuries compensation and corrections; short-term counselling and emotional support; court preparation and accompaniment; assistance in preparing victim impact statements; and referrals.


Criminal injuries compensation is available in PEI to victims of crimes specified under the Victims of Crime Act including the following crimes:  assault, sexual assault, murder, robbery, (please contact Victim Services for a complete list of eligible crimes). Compensation may be made for wages or salary lost because of injury or death, funeral expenses, pain and suffering, maintenance of a child born as a result of sexual assault, medical or dental expenses, and other reasonable expenses, except for property loss or damage.  Applications for compensation should be received within one year of the commission of the crime.

For further information on victims’ services in Prince Edward Island and contact information please visit:

6.12 The Territories

The federal government has a unique role to play with respect to victim services in the three territories because the Attorney General of Canada, through the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, is responsible for prosecuting Criminal Code offences in the territories.  As a result, the federal government provides court-based services to victims of crime in the three territories through Crown Witness Coordinators (CWCs). CWCs provide a wide range of services including liaison and information-sharing with Crowns; preparing victims and witnesses for court; explaining the criminal justice system and the victim’s role; providing information on, and assistance with, the preparation of victim impact statements; arranging testimonial aids as necessary; supporting and accompanying victims and witnesses during their court process; and referring victims and witnesses to supportive community services.

Victim services in the Territories face unique challenges due to factors specific to the North.  The crime rates in Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut are significantly higher than elsewhere in Canada.  There are eight Aboriginal languages in the Yukon, spoken by 75 percent of the population.  There are 11 official languages in the NWT, where an Aboriginal language is spoken by 13 percent of the population.  In Nunavut 70 percent of the population speaks Inuktitut or Inuinnaqtun as their mother tongue.  The CWC program accommodates these language issues through the use of interpreters and by hiring staff who speak one or more indigenous languages.  CWCs also travel with the circuit court all over the territories.

In addition to the assistance provided by CWCs, victims of crime receive assistance from community organizations, the territorial government, some First Nations and police services via first response, pre-court, police-based support.  Funding provided by the territorial governments to non-governmental organizations enables services to be developed that respond to the particular needs of victims of crime in the three territories.

6.12.1 Yukon

The Victim Services Unit in the Yukon’s Department of Justice offers a system-based model of victim services.  Yukon Victim Services works closely with the Crown attorney’s office and the RCMP to offer support to victims from the time of the offence through to conclusion of sentence, treatment and release.  The Victim Services Unit provides direct services for victims of crime including court support, crisis support, group counselling and referrals.  The Yukon Government also provides public education, prevention activities and support to community agencies, through the Department of Justice, the Women’s Directorate and other departments.  In addition to the services provided by the territorial government, women’s organizations, non-governmental agencies, First Nations and community groups provide direct and indirect services for victims of crime.

For further information on services for victims of crime in the Yukon please visit:

6.12.2 Northwest Territories

The Department of Justice of the Northwest Territories (NWT) provides annual contribution funding to ongoing, community-based Victim Service Programs located in seven communities in the NWT. Outreach victim services are available in both T’licho and Beaufort Delta regions.  Victims living in communities where there is no Victim Services Program can receive information and support from a Victim Services worker by telephone.  NWT community-based victim services include information, assistance, support, court orientation and accompaniment, referrals, safety planning and assistance with victim impact statements.

The emergency costs associated with criminal victimization are great, particularly in the NWT where, in most cases, victims residing in smaller communities are required to travel to either a regional centre, the capital or outside of the NWT to access services. Furthermore, services available in the community, such as home repairs, are very expensive. The NWT Victims of Crime Emergency Fund provides limited financial assistance to help victims of serious violent crime meet emergency needs where no other sources of financial assistance are available.

The Victim Notification Program allows victims to apply to receive information about the offender who was convicted of a crime against them, such as the length, start and expiry date of sentences; eligibility dates for temporary absences; any variation to the sentence or eligibility dates; the location of the institution of incarceration; release dates and destination for temporary absences; special conditions imposed on temporary absences; the release date and community to which the offender will be released, if known; escapes from custody or other “unlawfully at large” statuses and when the offender is returned to custody. The Victim Notification Program is administered by the Corrections Service. All NWT correctional facilities have victim-notification representatives.

For further information and contact numbers for Victims Services in the NWT please visit:

6.12.3 Nunavut

The Community Justice Division within the Nunavut Department of Justice provides support and contribution funding to community-based programs located throughout Nunavut to assist victims of crime. The Victims Assistance Fund is a special-purpose fund maintained with revenue from victims’ fine surcharges.

The Victims Assistance Fund does not provide direct financial compensation to individuals but it supports community-based projects and activities that provide services and assistance to victims of crime through:

The Nunavut Victim Travel Support Program provides support to Nunavummiut survivors/victims of serious, violent crimes that occur and are being prosecuted in Nunavut before the Nunavut Court of Justice.  The program provides limited, travel-related financial assistance to the victim’s family members and/or support person so that they may offer the victim the benefit of emotional, moral and familial support and, in some cases, personal translation when the victim is required to attend criminal proceedings.

Court-based assistance is also provided to victims and witnesses in Nunavut through the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (via federal Crown Witness Coordinators).  Victim services will continue to expand in Nunavut.