Compensation for crime victims: do not assume anything before checking the facts

  • March 29, 2021
Mère tenant son jeune enfant dans ses bras

The complaint

Fifteen years after giving birth, a mother applied for a pension for her child born as the result of sexual assault. The Direction de l’indemnisation des victimes d’actes criminels (DGIVAC) agreed to issue backdated compensation, but only covering three years. The woman complained to the Québec Ombudsman.

The context

  • A woman had been the victim of repeated sexual assault. She gave birth to a child whose father was the perpetrator.
  • She was fragile, so she delayed contacting DGIVAC. She finally applied for a pension for her child, who was now 15 years old.
  • DGIVAC granted her a backdated pension, but only for the three years after the birth.
  • For the following 12 years, the woman had a companion who became a spouse. DGIVAC therefore considered that she was not on her own in providing for her child. That is why she no longer qualified for the pension.

What the investigation showed

  • DGIVAC assumed that the future spouse had helped out financially with the child since the very beginning. However, the couple did not live together right away.
  • As the Québec Ombudsman saw it, DGIVAC was too quick to assume that the man had assumed financial responsibility for the child at the beginning of the relationship.

The outcome

Because the Québec Ombudsman intervened, DGIVAC reviewed its decision and considered that the man had started to contribute financially to the child’s upbringing later in the relationship, when he legally became the mother’s de facto spouse.

In the end, the mother received $12,000 more.

This case was taken from our 2019-2020 Annual Report.

The Québec Ombudsman ensures that your rights are upheld in your dealings with Québec public services. Are you dissatisfied with the services of a Government of Québec department or agency? Or with those of a health and social services network institution (2nd level of recourse)? File a complaint with the Québec Ombudsman by calling 1-800-463-5070 or use our online complaint form.