Shortfall threatens restorative justice Oak Bay provider

Funding puts Restorative Justice Victoria access at risk

Restorative Justice Victoria fears it may have to turn cases away due to funding shortfalls.

The organization, which also serves Oak Bay, learned in March that an application for funding through United Way of Greater Victoria was not approved and a three-year commitment of $25,000 per year had ended.

“Unfortunately this year we experienced the loss of one of our more significant multi-year funders. This $25,000 loss represented one-quarter of our budget. This would have been devastating to our organization had we not received an unexpected and extremely generous donation,” said executive director Jessica Rourke. “Loss of a significant funder as well as increases in overhead costs and a rising case load means that we desperately need a more stable source of funding.”

A part of the United Way approach to funding is to ensure all agencies are stable when they’re funded, so when funding ends, they should remain stable.

 

“Policy [is] to never fund beyond 30 per cent of an agency’s revenue so no agency should find themselves in any difficulty when our funding commitment is completed,” said Lee Anne Davies, director of community investment for United Way Greater Victoria.

 

“That’s important to us United Way wants to ensure the community is getting all of the services they need.”

At the United Way, she explained, decisions are made by engaging experts in the community, running the gamut from housing to employment to trauma.

“Those experts sit at the table with us and talk about every application that comes in to us … there will never be enough money, but we do ensure we can meet the greatest needs as best we can,” Davies said. “Every dollar we raise is so respected and really considered in great thoroughness as far as what the needs of the community are.”

Restorative justice offers alternative measures to handle a criminal offence in the community, outside of court, in addition to a trial, or during or after a period of incarceration. Forms of restorative justice include community accountability dialogues, victim-offender mediation, peacemaking/healing circles and hybrid models.

Core funding comes via the Gaming Commission, frozen for a number of years at $46,000 despite a rising case load. Restorative Justice Victoria receives $17,000 in municipal funding from Victoria and Esquimalt through the police budget and $1,000 from Oak Bay.

Assessing whether there’s a decline in funding is a challenge, Rourke said. The organization frequently secures one-time, non-renewable grants or donations designated toward specific projects rather than staff hours.

“What can be said, is that each year our funding does not match our needs,” she said. “Our purpose is to bring together victims, offenders, and members of the larger community to promote healing and reparation after the harmful effects of a crime. Without adequate funding to devote toward handling cases, the community suffers.”

Last year RJV did a recidivism study with the Victoria Police Department that showed a 13 per cent recidivism rate amongst offenders who went through restorative justice. Rourke says the Victoria and Oak Bay police departments as well as Victoria and Westshore Crown Counsel value the services restorative justice offers.

“Each year we are seeing significant growth in the number of cases referred to us as well as the complexity of the cases referred. In our opinion, more cases means more healing in the community, however, increasing case load and complexity demands more staff hours,” Rourke said. “Our current budget has left us understaffed and staff burnout is becoming a pervasive issue. If our budget does not increase, we will have to start turning cases and clients away.”

The fear of having to turn away cases due to increasing demands on thinly stretched staff, fewer volunteers, and an inability to grow volunteer skillsets affects both Victoria and Oak Bay communities.

“Filling our funding gap is one of our main priorities … We are exploring every funding opportunity that we come across, however we often hear from funders that they believe the municipality or provincial government should be the ones funding our program,” Rourke said. “We are also working toward entering discussions with the provincial government around this debate … Although one-time grants and personal donations are always extremely welcome and appreciated, what we need is stable operational funding so that we are in a position to respond to the increasing demands from police and crown.”

 

Learn more about the organization at rjvictoria.wordpress.com online.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for east Vancouver Island area this weekend

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

The cost of potentially counting deer regionwide was among the issues that prompted Capital Regional District committee members to vote against pursuing a greater CRD role in deer management. (Black Press Media file photo)
Expanded deer management a non-starter for Greater Victoria

Capital Regional District committee maintains current level of support

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Jan. 21 marks the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century, according to some. (Black Press Media file photo)
The 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century is upon us – maybe

Milestone won’t be back for another 100 years

Victoria city council unanimously voted Jan. 21 to develop a one-time relief fund for businesses hit by vandalism. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
City offers relief funds for Victoria businesses hit by vandalism

Limited relief fund will come from 2021 contingency budget

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Aquaculture employee from Vancouver Island, Michelle, poses with a comment that she received on social media. Facebook group Women in Canadian Salmon Farming started an online campaign #enoughisenough to highlight the harassment they were facing online after debates about Discovery Islands fish farms intensified on social media. (Submitted photo)
Female aquaculture employees report online bullying, say divisive debate has turned sexist

Vancouver Island’s female aquaculture employees start #enoughisenough to address misogynistic comments aimed at them

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

Most Read