The federal government hired an international non-profit group, which specializes in helping hostages and their relatives, to provide support to Joshua Boyle, Caitlan Coleman and their three children after their release from five years in captivity by Taliban-linked militants.
Global Affairs Canada's decision to work with the organization, known as Hostage US, was one of several forms of rare postcaptivity government assistance provided to the family in recent weeks, according to two sources with knowledge of the case. The contract with Hostage US includes referrals for counselling, financial advice and lawyers.
"Due to the complicated nature of hostage cases, we work closely with specialized NGOs to help support hostages and their families with the transition back to life in Canada, including ensuring that they have access to domestic services, which are provided in large part by municipal and provincial governments," said Adam Austen, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
One source said the hope was to provide a safe environment as the family adjusted to life back in Canada. Hostage US did not respond to requests for comment.
The step to hire the group was taken before Mr. Boyle was arrested and charged with 15 offences this week, including assault, sexual assault and unlawful confinement.
A military intervention by the Pakistani government led to the Boyle family's freedom this fall. They returned to Canada in October and the offences are alleged to have occurred shortly afterward in Ottawa, between Oct. 14 and Dec. 30. The names of the alleged victims are protected by a publication ban. The charges have not yet been tested in court.
Mr. Boyle will remain in an Ottawa jail this week after making a brief video appearance in court on Wednesday. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit, Mr. Boyle appeared from the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre in front of Justice Norman Boxall, who adjourned the matter until Monday.
Experts say that, in the past, the federal government's role in assisting freed hostages has been limited. "Anything that would have to be done would have to be at the provincial level, because of the health mandate of the provinces here," said Gar Pardy, who was a long-serving Foreign Affairs official until he retired in the 2000s. "The federal government, as far as I know, has never set up anything."
Within Global Affairs Canada, the [Boyle] family's release and repatriation was being handled out of a small office known as the "task force on international critical incidents." Sources say GAC kept up an abiding interest in the family for weeks after their return.
One of Mr. Boyle's lawyers, Eric Granger, told The Globe and Mail this week that Mr. Boyle is presumed innocent and has never been in trouble before. "He's only very recently been released, and nobody goes through what he's been through and just picks up where he left off in 2012," Mr. Granger said in an e-mail exchange.
No one answered the door at the Boyle family's low-rise apartment in central Ottawa on Wednesday. A sign taped outside the door asked for privacy.
A week before Christmas, Mr. Boyle and his family visited Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his Centre Block office, with Mr. Boyle posting pictures of the meeting on Twitter. A PMO spokesman declined to answer any questions about vetting and security protocol involving those who meet with the Prime Minister.
"We simply do not comment on any matter relating to the Prime Minister's security," spokesman Cameron Ahmad wrote in an e-mail.
Mr. Boyle was married to Zaynab Khadr, the sister of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr, a decade ago. Five years ago, he was kidnapped while travelling to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions with his second wife, the American Ms. Coleman.
The couple's three children were born in captivity. Their kidnappers, the Haqqani network, are a group of militants linked to the Taliban and designated as a terrorist group by Canada.
With a report from Stephanie Chambers