A Progressive Conservative government in Ontario would ensure more of the money the province has set aside for victims of crime and their families reaches the intended recipients, Tory Leader Tim Hudak said Sunday.
He did not promise any new money for the programs, which include The Criminal Injuries and Compensation Board and the Victims’ Justice Fund.
“People are damn tired of the rights of criminals coming ahead of the rights of victims,” Mr. Hudak said.
He made the announcement in a Brantford hotel, where he met with the family of a young man who suffered brain damage after a violent attack.
Wendy Bayne said it took three years and extensive paperwork to receive money from the Board for her son, adding the family felt re-victimized by the long wait and the way they were treated by government bureaucrats.
“We’re not looking for a blank cheque, we’re looking for a fair and equitable process,” Ms. Bayne said.
Mr. Hudak said the Liberals have allowed a surplus of $34-million to build up in the Victims’ Justice Fund, but make it difficult for victims and their families to claim compensation.
“They’re sitting on this surplus while victims are being put through a second degree of hell after the initial hell of the assault and the violence,” he said.
Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty disputed the assertion that the Victims’ Justice Fund is in surplus. “I say he’s wrong, all that money is going to victims,” he said at Young Liberal campaign event in Toronto.
Mr. McGuinty said his government has tripled overall funding to victims’ services and support.
David Zimmer, who was parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General before the writ dropped, told a legislative committee in March that the surplus in the Victims’ Justice Fund is closer to $3-million, not $34-million, as the Tories say.
Mr. Zimmer said the government is required to maintain a $6-million contingency amount, and the remaining $25-million is earmarked for programs that support victims and their families.
After the PC campaign stop, Ms. Bayne said she agreed to speak alongside Mr. Hudak because he is the only leader who has spoken about changing the victim compensation system during the campaign.
“Whether it’s the PCs, the Liberals, the NDP that get in, somebody has to make the changes,” she said. “If he doesn’t follow through, he’ll be getting the e-mails, he’ll be getting the phone calls.”
“I don’t go away.”
With a report from Carys Mills