On Sunday it was announced that parents of missing and murdered children will be able to apply for income support, allowing them to take time from work. The program begins on Jan. 1.
The announcement was made in Ottawa by Dr. Kellie Leitch, MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. Beginning on Jan. 1, parents of children who have been murdered will be able to apply to the federal government for income support. Parents of children who are missing as a result of a probable criminal offence having been committed are also eligible to apply for a grant.
Parents will be eligible to receive $350 per week, up to a maximum period of 35 weeks. The parent must have earned at least $6,500 in the previous calendar year or during the past 52 weeks. And they must have taken a leave of absence from current employment.
The Canada Labour Code has been amended to protect the jobs of parents who are employed in a federally regulated company and who take a leave of absence after a child has been murdered or has gone missing.
In making the announcement, Leitch said, "Our government is taking action to provide more support for victims of crime and their families. This new grant will ease the financial pressure on parents struggling to cope with the death or disappearance of a child."
Sharon Rosenfeldt, president of Victims of Violence/Canadian Centre for Missing Children, was quoted as saying, "Our organization is very pleased with the grant which will benefit victims of crime. We are grateful for the commitment the Government has shown in responding to the needs of victims of crimes."
As the Ottawa Citizen reports, Rosenfeldt's son Daryn was murdered by serial killer Clifford Olson in 1981. Both she and her husband spent months without a source of income after their son went missing. The Rosenfeldts later moved to Ottawa where they founded Victims of Violence.
The grant program is not retroactive and parents of children who have been murdered or who have gone missing in the past will not be eligible for the income support. It is estimated that 1,000 parents will be eligible to apply each year and it is anticipated the program will cost $10 million annually.