Alberta’s Victim Services, including those in the Lakeland, are undergoing a redesign that is aimed at providing more effective assistance to victims, according to the Government of Alberta.
The revamp was initiated due to financial irregularities, prompting a reevaluation of funds allocation by the provincial government.
In response, the government initiated a significant shift towards a more regionally focused approach.
“The government announced the replacement of 62 police-based Victim Service units with four new regional boards, each linked with a local RCMP detachment – West, East, Central, and South,” explains Kelly Santa Rosa, a policy adviser with Alberta Municipalities.
Rosa highlighted the surplus funds that the government had accumulated but had not utilized. “The auditor general noted that the fund was growing quite rapidly, and they were collecting a lot more money than they were spending, so he directed the government to look at ways to use the crime fund effectively.”
Alberta Municipalities heard concerns from several municipalities regarding the Victim Services redesign. In a document released earlier in 2023, Alberta Municipalities states, “Throughout the consultation process, the RMA has consistently argued that the current VSU delivery model is a uniquely Albertan example of a service designed to allow local needs to be met.”
Arthur Green, press secretary with the Government of Alberta, explained the nature of the proposed changes, stating, “This will enhance service consistency and stability province-wide, offer more support for frontline workers, and enable greater flexibility in delivering services where communities need them most.”
Victim Services groups in Alberta aim to provide emotional support, guidance, and resources to individuals affected by various traumatic events.
Speaking specifically of any local impacts, Green noted that Victim Services in Cold Lake will persist.
“Cold Lake continues to work with public safety and emergency services, providing general input on the development of the new regional victim services model, as well as regarding victim services in Cold Lake specifically. Victim Services will remain available in the community of Cold Lake.”
Amid concerns raised due to what some feel was insufficient consultation on the restructuring plans, the government has reassured those involved that the range of services offered will remain unchanged. However, the primary focus lies in creating a dependable funding framework to meet the need for local groups to not have to do fundraising.
Rosa highlighted this concern, stating, “After the announcement of the Victim Services redesign, we started to hear from our municipalities, they hadn’t been consulted, the model just came out of nowhere, and they hadn’t heard about it, so some of them were really concerned because they heard the scope of the victims they would be able to serve was going to change.”
While Victim Services organizations are currently engaged in staffing efforts, giving priority to previous staff members, Rosa noted a shift in perception, stating, “I think our association is still keeping an eye on the reorganization, but I think it’s more positive than we thought it was when we initially heard about it.”
Rosa noted that despite the possibility of reduced staff numbers, more funds should be allocated to helping victims. “If you are saving on staffing and administration costs, more of the money will go directly to victims.”
She added, “The auditor general noted that the fund was growing quite rapidly, and they were collecting a lot more money than they were spending, so he directed the government to look at ways to use the crime fund effectively.”
By Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Dec 23, 2023 at 17:08