Ontario Strengthening Laws to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment
Proposed Legislation Would Help Make Workplaces, Campuses and Communities Safer
Ontario is introducing legislation today that would help build a province where everyone is free from the threat of sexual violence and harassment, and would strengthen support for survivors.
The legislation would help deliver on commitments in It's Never Okay, the government's ground-breaking action plan to stop sexual violence and harassment. If passed, the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act would make workplaces, campuses and communities safer and more responsive to the needs of survivors and to complaints about sexual violence and harassment. The Act would:
- Require every publicly assisted college and university and private career college to have a stand-alone sexual violence policy and to review it -- with student involvement -- at least once every three years
- Enhance requirements for sexual harassment prevention programs and create specific employer duties to protect workers, including a duty to ensure that incidents and complaints are appropriately investigated
- Remove the limitation period for all civil proceedings based on sexual assault -- and, in certain cases, sexual misconduct or assault -- so that survivors can bring their civil claims forward whenever they choose to do so
- Eliminate the limitation period for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence to make a compensation application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board
- Shorten the time it takes to end a tenancy agreement for people experiencing sexual or domestic violence, to make it easier for survivors to flee abuse.
Ontario is supporting these priorities through a broad-based action plan that includes increased and stabilized funding to community-based sexual assault centres and hospital-based sexual assault and domestic violence treatment centres. The government is also running a province-wide public education campaign to promote a shift in attitudes and behaviours, and recently announced a $2.25 million Creative Engagement Fund to challenge rape culture through artistic projects.
Supporting survivors of sexual violence and creating a safer, more inclusive and more equitable province is part of the government's plan to build Ontario up. The plan includes investing in people's talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.
- One in three women in Canada will experience some form of sexual assault in her lifetime.
- Sexual assault victimization rates are five times higher for women under the age of 35.
- 28 per cent of Canadians say they have been on the receiving end of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours or sexually charged talk while on the job.
- The government has committed $41 million over three years to support the Action Plan’s implementation.
- Through a $3 million Innovation Fund, Ontario is supporting new, creative projects to enhance community support for survivors of sexual violence.
“Many women in Ontario do not feel safe, and that is unacceptable. 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.”
“We are committed to creating a province where all Ontarians feel secure from the threat of sexual violence and harassment. This legislation, if passed, would give survivors the supports they need while keeping our campuses, workplaces and communities safe.”