The Victim Services model (Victim Crisis Assistance and Referral Service-VCARS) was first launched in 1987 as a pilot project in three areas of the Province of Ontario. The objective of the project was to identify the optimum delivery model for victim services. The community-based victim services pilot project was so successful in Brant, Frontenac and Sault Ste. Marie, that a fourth site, Metropolitan Toronto, became operational in 1989. Each year, new sites have been selected, strategically and geographically located to ensure coverage throughout the Province.
In 1989, an independent evaluation of the projects concluded that victims, police officers, community agencies and volunteers themselves were in agreement that the provision of immediate assistance and timely appropriate referrals did help reduce trauma and enhance recovery from the effects of victimization.
The 1987 pilot project highlighted a number of benefits for the victim, the community and police. For the victim, the benefits are derived out of early assistance to help mitigate the potential for lasting negative impact of a traumatic event, while promoting recovery and increasing the individual’s potential as a witness in the judicial process. The benefits for members of the community include the opportunity to learn about the justice system and to become involved in direct service to people within the community.
In accordance with the Victims’ Bill Of Rights, 1995, proclaimed in law on June 11, 1996, the needs and rights of victims of crime are supported and recognized. The right to victim services is thus established in law and is a legislated police responsibility. Victim Services programs work in partnership with police to help ensure that victims receive the support they need and deserve.
There are now 48 Victim Services organizations funded by the Ministry of the Attorney General providing much needed crisis support to victims of crime and tragic circumstances in the Province of Ontario.
Victim Services of Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry and Akwesasne is one of the newest sites in the Eastern Ontario region and celebrated its Grand Opening on June 27th, 2006. Weekend Crisis Assistance services were officially launched to police services on February 2nd, 2007. In July of 2009, services became available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.