Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
Opinion: Dirty secret is out
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 9 Mar 2007, p. 6

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Throwing money at a problem to make it go away is a favourite tactic of governments. However, we're hoping the McGuinty Liberals aren't using this strategy to clean up the mess that has become the Ontario Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Ontario Ombudsman André Marin last week unveiled his scathing report on the board, calling it a "colossal failure" that has embraced a "rule-obsessed, paper-shuffling culture". Victims of crime have been treated with "bureaucratic indifference and suspicion." Established in 1971 by the provincial government in an effort to help provide financial compensation to victims of violent crime, Marin has found the board has become awash in so much red tape that half of the applicants eventually give up their claims out of frustration. The board takes an average of three years to process applications while similar boards in Quebec and British Columbia take only two and three months respectively. Marin found that forms from victims have been returned for such mundane reasons as forgetting to dot an "i" in a name. By this October there will be a backlog of more than 17,500 cases. Unbelievable. Marin puts the blame solely on Queen's Park, saying the board is a $40-million operation being run on a $20-million budget. Attorney-General Michael Bryant was quick to vow immediate action on Marin's report and ponied up nearly $21 million within two days of the report's release. He also appointed Ontario Chief Justice Roy McMurtry to make recommendations on how to revamp the board. However, it should be noted that Bryant's ministry was fully aware of the board's problems as a 2005 e-mail from his ministry said: "The ministry may be vulnerable to criticism...should what we have learned about the (board's) current status and practices get out." Well, the government's "dirty little secret" (as Marin described it) is out. We're hoping this problem doesn't go away now that some money has been thrown its way and that the provincial government starts helping victims of crime instead of victimizing them again.

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Opinion: Dirty secret is out