Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Parole Board of Canada and Correctional Service of Canada offices are closed to the public. That means victims and survivors of impaired driving are not currently able to appear in person at the parole hearings of offenders in their cases.
There is little opportunity as it is for victim families and survivors to have a voice in justice system proceedings, so it is very disheartening that those who wish to participate in parole hearings in person are not currently able to do so.
MADD Canada does understand that we are in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis, and that these offices have been closed to protect the health and well-being of staff and to stem the spread of the virus. We also understand that there are privacy and security concerns with the use of public video-conferencing services.
However, the option and ability for victim families and survivors impacted by impaired driving to participate in criminal justice system proceedings, including parole hearings, is incredibly important.
MADD Canada has been in communication with the Parole Board of Canada to ensure that video and audio submissions by victim families and survivors continue to be an option during this time. We have also urged them to continue to investigate other reasonable solutions that ensure that victim families and survivors have a strong voice in the parole process, while also preserving measures to maintain the health and well-being of parole board staff.
We were pleased to learn on April 22 that the Parole Board of Canada has announced that victim and survivor families will now be able to participate in parole hearings via telephone. Read the announcement.
This a welcome development, because these individuals and families have been forever impacted by the crime of impaired driving, and they should have the ability to express their thoughts and feelings directly with parole board members and with the offenders if they wish to do so.
We continue to offer our support to victim families and survivors who are dealing with the difficulty and emotional parole process.