Compensation to victims of crime: Position on Saskatchewan’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Act

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The B.C. Civil Liberties Association supports the Saskatchewan Criminal Injuries Compensation Act(1967) in most respects. This legislation provides as follows:

  1. A Crimes Compensation Board will hear applications under the Act.
  2. Compensation may be provided to persons injured as a result of criminal acts committed, or to dependants of a victim of crime.
  3. The Board has wide discretion in awarding damages and must hold hearings.
  4. Compensation may be recovered from the person convicted of the offence.
  5. No appeals or review may be made of orders of the Board. A schedule of about 25 offences is set out with respect to which compensation applies.

We find the Act objectionable in two of its provisions:

  • It provides that no compensation can be awarded where a member of the victim’s family committed the crime.
  • It denies a right of appeal to the ordinary courts.

In the first place, there seems to be no appropriate reason for restricting compensation to non-relatives of the criminal. In the second, there is reason to fear that such a provision will lead to abuses of fair process and to denial of fair hearings simply because there is no means of access to the courts. Appeals should be allowed and that these appeals should also be directed at the question of the amount of compensation awarded. Appeal should be to a Superior Court judge, with further right on questions of law to the Court of Appeal.

The present British Columbia legislation that deals with compensation of those injured while aiding the police or preventing crime and capturing criminals is far too narrow in its scope.

We also recommend to the attention of those interested in this subject, the excellent study by Osgoode Hall Law School in 1968:

Linden, Allan M. Report of the Osgoode Hall Study on compensation for victims of crime, Toronto, 1968.

It contains much statistical and comparative information that would be most useful for the formulation of legislative policy.