Ontario Ombudsman slams criminal injury compensation board as 'colossal failure' (The Globe and Mail)
The Globe and Mail
Wed 28 Feb 2007
Section: National News
Byline: Timothy Appleby
Length: 826 words
Company: Criminal Injuries Compensation Board; Canadian Crime Victims Foundation
TIMOTHY APPLEBY - Chronically underfunded,
Ontario's Criminal Injuries
Compensation Board is a "colossal failure" that
people "like rats in a cage," the provincial
yesterday in a blistering indictment
of the board and it's overseer, the
Ministry of the
Soon after Ombudsman Andre Marin's critique
landed, Premier Dalton
McGuinty promised that the
province will implement its recommendations.
accept the report as delivered, I thank him for his
advice, and we are going
to act on it," Mr. McGuinty
There looks to be nowhere to go but up. Mr. Marin's
withering rebuke of
the backlog-choked CICB, titled
Adding Insult to Injury, highlights cases
places seem plucked from unfunny Monty Python
It cites the father whose five-year-old daughter was
raped and murdered
and "was treated as though he
was trying to scam the board out of a few
dollars to pay for her funeral."
Another claimant's bid for compensation was rejected
in part because she
had forgotten to dot one of the i's
in her name. In a third case, the victim
any money was paid out.
It was largely because of the system's shortcomings,
and its $25,000
lump-sum ceiling per individual, that
lawyers for North York shooting victim
last year successfully negotiated a controversial
package for her, paid with criminal
On average, Mr. Marin found, it takes three years to
process a crime
victim's compensation claim in
Ontario. That compares with two months in
and six months in British Columbia, both of which in
processed many more claims than Ontario's
total of 2,654.
From 1998 to 2004, claims in the province soared by
148 per cent,
producing 4,000 to 5,000 completed
applications each year.
The board's budget, however, rose just 2.5 per cent
over that same
"The root of the problem is that the CICB has been
starved of resources,"
Mr. Marin said yesterday.
"It's operating a $40-million operation on
$20-million budget," deploying an "official document
by "an unwritten code of
underground practices, delays, and bureaucracy."
In particular, the Ombudsman criticized the practice
compensation until criminal charges
have been dealt with in court, which can
That's inexcusable, he said, because common sense is
sufficient to determine whether a person's
injuries stem from crime.
"If someone shows up at the hospital . . . and there's a
you've got it all documented."
Moreover, by refusing to compensate crime victims
with money from the
province's Victims of Justice
Fund (which funds programs and services
currently has an $80-million surplus), the ministry is
legislation that governs the CICB, Mr.
The outspoken Ombudsman weighed into the
36-year-old system because of the
of complaints his office was fielding from victims
that, far from being eased, their injuries were
exacerbated by the board.
"It's remarkable, what we've been saying for seven
years is now
validated," said Joe Wamback of
Newmarket, whose son, Jonathan, was beaten
coma in 1999 when he was 15, sustaining long- term
Founders of the Canadian Crime Victims Foundation,
Mr. Wamback and his
wife, Lozanne, spent years
trying to secure some interim compensation from
CICB before abandoning their efforts in 2005. Other
"don't even have the courage and
strength to fill out the forms and we don't
them," Mr. Wamback said, citing the board's "total
compassion and understanding."
London truck driver Aurelio Almeida, whose
five-year-old daughter Naiomi
was raped and
murdered in 2001, concurred. Efforts to secure
for funeral costs and lost wages,
initially denied, dragged on for years
before he and
his nine-year-old son were finally awarded $7,000
nervous shock. The family also got $6,000
for Naiomi's funeral -- four years
after the event.
"My son and I still suffer each day," Mr. Almeida
said, citing financial
losses that exceed $20,000.
"And then they ask me, 'How are you a victim?'
kind of a question is that?"
CICB chair Marsha Greenfield wrote to Mr. Marin
last week expressing broad
agreement with much of
his critique, listing new initiatives under way,
promising to file "a detailed plan of action" by the
end of next
month. She did not respond yesterday to
messages seeking comment.
Ms. Greenfield was first appointed to the board by
Conservative government in 1996,
was appointed chair in 1998 and reappointed
all-party support in 2005 through to July, 2008.
Mr. Marin's key recommendations:
* Make more money available immediately
up the backlog of claims and process new ones.
Attorney-General's Ministry must
acknowledge in writing that the CICB is
independent, quasi-judicial body and not a ministry
ministry must cease pressing the board to
delay or reduce awards.
Outreach initiatives should be launched, to ensure
crime victims understand
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