Barrister and Solicitor
Legal Writing and Research
Criminal Injuries Compensation (Ontario)
(01 January 2015)
Chapter 1 - Overview
- Compensation for Victims of Crime Act
- Governing Law
- Some Statistics
- This Legal Guide
1. Compensation for Victims of Crime Act
The Compensation for Victims of Crime Act (Ontario) ("CVCA") establishes a quasi-judicial tribunal (the "Criminal Injuries Compensation Board", "Board" or "CICB") to hear and determine awards of compensation for victims of violent crime, and those injured or killed in the course of law enforcement efforts.
Awards are granted for several types of compensation which generally correspond to the 'heads' of damage that a civil court might order in a lawsuit for similar injuries. However the gross total amounts of awards are "capped" at maximums established under the CVCA (except for "law enforcement" claimants). The awards granted are typically far less than a party might obtain in a civil personal injury lawsuit. Of course, many offenders are "judgment-proof" (ie. have no assets to collect) so the Board may offer the only practical recourse.
Applicants for compensation are not limited to the direct "victims" injured or killed but may include their dependents, support-providers and even Good Samaritans who come to the aid of law enforcement activities or of victims after-the-fact. As well, representative applications are available for children and vulnerable adults.
Applicants are free to sue in civil courts for the same damages but they have to payback any compensation awards from the proceeds of such a lawsuit. Similarly, like an insurance company, the Board itself has the subrogated right to sue the offender for the damage caused.
The system is under the administrative authority of the Attorney-General ("A-G") of Ontario, though the Board is a quasi-judicial body which is independent of the A-G and is run day-to-day by the Chair. Board members who hear cases are political appointees of the provincial government of the day.
4. Governing Law
While the CVCA allows for regulations to be made under it regarding procedures, forms, fees and related matters [CVCA s.28], this authority has not been exercised and to date no regulations have been issued under the CVCA.
However, the Board's procedures are governed by the Statutory Powers Procedures Act ("SPPA"), a general procedural statute which governs most Ontario administrative tribunals. The SPPA has general rules and as well provides authority for tribunals such as the Board to make their own rules on some procedural topics. The Board has used this s.25.1 rule-making authority to issue Rules of Procedure ("Rules") governing its hearing process and practice.
Statutory Powers Procedure Act Legal Guide
5. Some Statistics
In the fiscal year 2002/3 the Board awarded a total quantum of $12.2 million dollars over 1,716 awards to an average of $7,113 per award: 2002/3 Annual Report (Table 2). This total is down roughly $3 million from each of the two previous fiscal years. Awards have similarly dropped from 2,498 in 2000/1 and 2134 in 2001/2. The Board attributes this decline to a public service strike that occured in 2002/3: 2002/3 Annual Report (Table 5).
In the fiscal year 2002/3 the Board heard 2,232 cases and received 4,976 applications.
6. This Legal Guide
The legal guide attempts to integrate these varied sources of law and rules - as well as some relevant case law and applicable legal principles - into a functional, useful - and critical - guide to this area of Ontario law.
In my view there are significant legal issues regarding the legitimacy of the Board's Rules and practices, particularly its use of written hearings, right to refuse applications, summary dismissal jurisdiction, evidence-gathering role, and several other issues discussed at length in the chapter "Questionable Board Practices".