Anti-sexual harassment bill makes communities safer and more responsive to survivors


October 27, 2015 Brantford – Ontario is ramping up the fight against sexual violence in the province. Today, Women’s Issues Minister Tracy MacCharles announced the proposal of new legislation to strengthen laws against sexual violence and harassment.

The proposed Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act would support the government’s three year, $41 million action plan combatting sexual violence and harassment called, “It’s Never OK.” The bill aims to make workplaces, campuses, and communities safer and more responsive to survivors and complaints about sexual harassment.

The bill delivers on Kathleen Wynne’s promise to bring forth anti-sexual harassment legislation back in March. 

“These legislative proposals would put the strength of the law behind our commitment to make communities, schools, and workplaces safer, and that is an important part of our roadmap to end sexual violence and harassment in this province,” Premiere Kathleen Wynne said in a statement.

Career Colleges Ontario has worked closely with the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities to support the proposed legislation and develop a sexual violence and sexual harassment policy template for all career colleges.

“We were pleased to be able to support Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan,” said the CEO of Career Colleges Ontario, Sharon Maloney.

“We met with students of career colleges, who provided positive feedback with respect to the template, and suggested best practices to support it. The template provides a baseline policy that career colleges may adopt as is or elaborate on to reflect their institution’s best practices in the area.”

Career Colleges Ontario will also be hosting a webinar to explain the template and inform colleges of best practices.

In the bill:

  • Colleges and universities must have a stand-alone sexual violence policy, which must be reviewed—with student involvement—at least once every three years.
  • Ensure employers implement effective sexual harassment prevention programs and take specific steps to protect workers, including a responsibility to “ensure that incidents and complaints are appropriately investigated.”
  • Remove the limitations period for civil proceedings based on sexual assault or misconduct, allowing a case to be brought forth at any time.
  • Eliminate the limitation period for survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence to make applications to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
  • Shorten the notice period for tenants seeking to flee domestic abuse from 60 days to 28.

“We are committed to creating a province where all Ontarians feel secure from the threat of sexual violence and harassment,” MacCharles said in a statement.

According to the government, one in three women in Canada will experience some form of sexual assault in her lifetime.

 


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