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November 05, 2021

Should convicted criminals pay more to compensate their victims?

Convicted criminals will soon be expected to pay twice as much into victim services funds, if Bill C-37 makes its way through the House of Commons.

The money raised is used to fund government services, community organizations and, on occasion, to provide compensation to injured parties.

Not that the $$ are any great bonanza.

Victim surcharges would jump to $100 for a summary conviction and $200 for an indictable offence. In cases where a fine is imposed, the offender would instead have to pay a surcharge amounting to 30 per cent of the fine, up from 15 per cent, The Globe and Mail reports.

At the same time, the bill would eliminate judges’ ability to waive the surcharge in cases where offenders might paying such fines too onerous.

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Critics have pointed out the irony of doubling the amount of the surcharge when one of the excuses judges gave for waiving it was that offenders couldn't afford it.

But even supporters of such a change worry about how the money is spent and want provincial governments to do a better job of reporting on what they do with the money.

“There is no transparency in how this money is being spent,” Sharon Rosenfeldt, president of Ottawa-based Victims of Violence, said recently. “I think the actual bill is a good step in the right direction … however, I believe there has to be more transparency from the provinces.”

Others, like the Canadian Bar Association, worry that removing all judicial discretion here could mean that offenders could be sent to jail simply because they weren't able to come up with the money.

Does this make sense to you? Are the fines high enough? Have you ever received compensation or assistance after being victimized in this way?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...