Services and Remedies for Crime Victims

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By law, crime victims have the right to medical, psychological and social support. They can also receive compensation for harm they suffered. This Infosheet describes some of the services and recourses available to crime victims.


CAVACs (crime victims assistance centres)

CAVACs are funded by the crime victims assistance fund (FAVAC) , which is managed by the crime victims assistance bureau (BAVAC).

The BAVAC reports to the Québec department of justice .

Crime victims can visit the CAVAC in their regions to get psychological and social support, information and accompaniment services.

CAVACs offer the following confidential services free of charge:

  • moral support
  • information about the legal process and victims' rights and recourses
  • support and accompaniment throughout the legal process and when dealing with private and public agencies
  • information about legal, medical and community resources

These services are offered to crime victims for all types of crimes (e.g., assault, threats, robbery).

Also, they are available whether or not the victim has filed a complaint with the police. In other words, it is not necessary for anyone to be identified, arrested, brought to court or found guilty of a crime.

Close relatives of victims can use these services, as can witnessesof crimes.

However, CAVACs do not give financial compensation to crime victims. It is the IVAC (crime victims compensation bureau) that compensates crime victims who meet certain criteria.

CAVAC staff can tell victims about the IVAC's compensation procedure. They can also help victims fill out the form to ask for compensation.

CAVAC services are available by calling 1-866-LE-CAVAC (1-866-532-2822) or in person at the various CAVACs in Quebec.


IVAC (crime victims compensation bureau)

IVAC is a compensation program created by the Quebec government. The CNESST (the board that deals with worker's compensation) runs the program.

IVAC helps crime victims (or, in some cases, their families) get services and financial compensation.

Compensation is available when these tests are met:

  • Someone is victim of a crime (the suspect does not have to be found guilty of a crime).
  • The victim was killed or suffered physical or psychological injury due to a crime committed in Quebec.
  • The request for compensation is made within two years of when the injury, death or damage occurred. Note that there are some exceptions to this time limit.

The request must be made using an IVAC application form.

Compensation is available for various kinds of crimes, including sexual assault and confining someone against that person’s will. In some cases, close relatives of victims can also receive compensation.

The IVAC program mainly compensates victims for physical and psychological injuries. In rare cases, it also covers property damage.

Sometimes the IVAC covers expenses, such as funeral expenses paid by the victim’s family. 

For more information, see our Infosheet Compensation for Victims of Crimes.


Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime (OFOVC)

The Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime was created in 2007. Although it reports to the Canadian Minister of Justice, the OFOVC works independently and is neutral.

The OFOVC offers crime victims and their families free and confidential help, including information on

  • victims' rights,
  • services the federal government offers to victims, and
  • other relevant resources.

The Ombudsman also handles complaints by crime victims against the federal government. For example, it deals with complaints by victims who say they have not been treated with respect by a federal agency or department, or who did not receive information they should have been given.

For more information, visit the website of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime or call the Office at 1-866-481-8429.


Compensation Ordered by a Judge in a Criminal Case

When someone is found guilty of a crime, the judge usually orders a punishment, such as a fine or imprisonment.

The judge can also order the guilty party to pay money to the victim to compensate for harm suffered.

Financial compensation is not automatic, but the judge must consider it.

Compensation is normally only given if the harm is easy to determine and the judge believes it is appropriate.


Legal Action and Compensation in a Civil Case

After a crime is committed, victims who suffered physical or psychological injuries or property damage can ask for compensation in a civil court case against the person who caused the injuries or damage. The person who is sued is called the defendant.

In these cases, the victim takes legal action against the defendant or hires a lawyer to take legal action.

A victim can take a civil case even if the government is not taking the defendant to court in a criminal case, and even if the defendant was found not guilty in a criminal case.

If the judge decides in favour of the victim, she will order the defendant to compensate the victim for the harm suffered, for example by paying money to the victim.

For further information, see our Infosheet Differences Between Civil Cases and Criminal Cases.


Other Services and Recourses

There are other services and recourses for victims. They depend on the type of crime. For example, the victim of a crime that took place at work can apply for compensation by contacting the CNESST (the board that deals with worker's compensation). Also, crime victims can sometimes receive compensation from their own insurance companies.

For more information, visit the website of the Québec department of justice, which has a special section dedicated to crime victims.

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.