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FORUM: Province tables sexual assault act

February 2nd, 2016 · No Comments

Legislation aimed at being more responsive to survivors

By Han Dong

Recently, the Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment submitted its final report to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. I am privileged to have been a member of this all-party, non-partisan committee of the Legislature. The recommendations that came out of this committee were developed through the testimonies of those who came forward with personal stories and firsthand experiences. These will help establish a foundation for future action.

The government recently announced a $2.25-million fund to challenge rape culture through artistic projects.

I am proud of the leadership of Premier Wynne on ending the culture of sexual violence. I also want to thank the Honourable Tracy MacCharles, the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, for her tireless work on the Sexual Violence Action Plan.

The legislation, if passed, would help deliver on commitments in “It’s Never Okay”, the government’s groundbreaking 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 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; and,
  • 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.

The Ontario government is supporting these priorities through a broad 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.

As your MPP, I would like to hear your comments and suggestions regarding the Sexual Violence Action Plan, or the work of the Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment. I welcome you to visit my website for more information on the Action Plan, and other provincial programs and services.

Han Dong is the Member of Provincial Parliament for Trinity-Spadina. He can be contacted via 416.603.9664 or hdong.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org. His website is www.handong.onmpp.ca.

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