Victims’ Participation in PBC Hearings
Date: August 11, 2020
Branch / Agency: Parole Board of Canada
- The PBC remains committed to ensuring victims' voices are heard and that their rights under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights are respected during the unprecedented situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In fact, the PBC has welcomed victims to observe and participate in hearings since 1992.
- PBC has implemented technological and procedural enhancements in order to provide victims, as an interim measure, the ability to participate at PBC hearings via telephone.
- These technology upgrades were necessary as the Board is now holding all of their hearings remotely and must respect physical distancing protocols. This is challenging when there may be six or more individuals participating in the hearing from as many different locations – including the offender, one or more victims and victim support persons, the offender’s assistant, the Parole Board members and staff persons and a CSC Parole Officer.
- Limited access to institutions for offender visits has been reinstated. CSC and the PBC are working on developing measures for in person hearings to resume on a gradual basis.
- Registered victims are able to listen to hearings and present their statements for Board members to consider in their decision-making. Since March 1, 2020, 183 victims and victim supports in 61 hearings have participated via teleconference.
- For victims who prefer not to attend a hearing, the PBC continues to accept victim statements in various formats, including audio or video recording.
- Victims also continue to receive all legislated information to which they are entitled, and may continue to submit information to the PBC about the offender who harmed them. Registered victims can access or submit information at any time through the Victims Portal.
- Victims can request to listen to the audio recording of certain hearings, as mandated by law. Victims can also request a copy of the written decision through the PBC's Decision Registry.
The Parole Board of Canada (PBC) is committed to the health and safety of the public, offenders, its Board members and staff as it continues to adapt its policies, processes and operations in response to the unprecedented situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The PBC continues to review offenders’ cases for conditional release; however, hearings are being conducted remotely via videoconference or teleconference, as applicable.
These actions are consistent with the decision of the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) to suspend or limit visitors from its institutions, and align with current advice from public health officials around social distancing and prevention in relation to COVID-19. Limited access to institutions for offender visits has been reinstated. CSC and the PBC are working on developing measures for in person hearings to resume on a gradual basis.
For approximately a month, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PBC did not have the capacity to facilitate victim attendance at hearings remotely. Victims were contacted in advance of the hearings and offered the opportunity to submit audio, video and/or written statements for Board Members to consider in their decision-making. This situation has now been addressed and the option to attend PBC hearings via telephone is being offered to all registered victims as technology upgrades have been made.
Victims registered with the PBC can request to listen to the audio recording of certain hearings, as applicable. They can do so by completing and signing the Victim Request to Listen to Audio Recording of Hearing form, and sending it to their nearest PBC regional office.
Registered victims can also access information from both PBC and CSC at any time through the Victims Portal, a secure online service that provides victims with a simple, quick and secure way to send and receive information from the PBC and the Correctional Service of Canada.
Once registered on the Victims Portal, victims may, among other things:
- Receive/view information about the offender;
- View/manage preferences for receiving information;
- Submit a victim statement to PBC and CSC and;
- Request copies of PBC decisions.
Public safety remains the paramount consideration in all PBC decisions.
Prepared by: Mark Montreuil, A/Director, Public Affairs and Partnerships – 343-542-5996
Approved by: Daryl Churney, Executive Director General, 613-404-4344
- Date modified: