Victim Services of
Still going strong
Over the past two decades, concern has grown in Canada for the rights and needs of victims of crime. It has been recognized that more can be done to address the needs of victims of crime and/or tragic circumstances and disaster in the Province of Ontario.
To demonstrate its commitment to victim needs, the Victim Crisis Assistance and Referral Service (V.C.A.R.S.) was established as a pilot project in 1987 by the Ministry of the Solicitor General with funding co-ordinated by the Ontario Women’s Directorate through the Ontario Government’s Joint Family Violence Initiative to demonstrate its commitment to victim needs.
The pilot was a police-community based program using specially trained volunteers to deliver the service, dealing exclusively with the short-term needs of the victim. This service is framed on the crisis intervention model. The pilot project was launched in three sites, Brant and Frontenac Counties and the South Algoma District. The sites chosen were very diverse in their geographical and social service structure by similar in population. They represented three different regions in Ontario, specifically the eastern, western and northern regions of the Province.
The pilot project was four years in duration with flexibility built in for start-up time and evaluation. V.C.A.R.S. was designed to serve the immediate crisis needs of any individual who came into contact with the police and whom the attending officer determined could benefit from the service. In 1993, the Cambridge Victim Services Volunteers were formed with a grant from the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 121. The volunteers continuously provided crisis services to the citizens of Cambridge from July of 1993 until September of 2003.
In September of 2003, the Organization was transferred to the authority of the Ministry of the Attorney General (V.C.A.R.S.) and became Victim Services of Waterloo Region.
As of April 2022, the portfolio which includes the VCAO provincial programming was transferred from the authority of the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS), who now maintains responsibility and oversight for VCAO agencies including VSWR at present time.