More help on the way to support victims of crime, their families in B.C.

Starting next year, the province will offer enhanced counselling programs under the Crime Victim Assistance Program. As well, it will expand the offences covered and increase benefit rates for victims.

“Victims of crime, their immediate family members, and witnesses are impacted by crime in different ways, but they all need support and access to services in order to heal,” Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said Friday.

“Today, we are expanding services and coverage for victims of crime to ensure that comprehensive and compassionate supports and services are accessible to those who need them, when they need them.”

The government is adding new offences that will be covered under the Crime Victims Assistance Act, including those relating to gender-based violence and conversion therapy. Also being added is coverage for victims of online sexual exploitation, including voyeurism and publication of intimate images without consent.

As well, it is increasing benefit rates for victims to help with key services such as funeral expenses and crime-scene cleaning.

“Because of these Crime Victim Assistance Program amendments, women, girls, and gender-diverse people will have more access to financial supports, counselling services, protective measures, and other benefits so they can cope and recover from the effects of violence,” said Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity Kelli Paddon.

The new measures come into effect Jan. 1.

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