Concrete Measures to End Sexual Violence and Harassment
Ontario – The Ontario government has released It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment. The ground-breaking plan outlines concrete steps to help change attitudes, provide more supports for survivors, and make workplaces and campuses safer and more responsive to complaints about sexual violence and harassment. The government has committed $41 million over three years to support the plan’s implementation.
In December 2014, Premier Kathleen Wynne called for stronger action against sexual violence and harassment and directed a group of ministers to put forward measures to address the issue. The Premier launched the action plan today at the YWCA in Toronto.
Highlights from the plan include:
- A multi-media public education campaign to help change behaviours and call on bystanders to intervene;
- A new health and physical education curriculum that will help children, from Grades 1 to 12, develop a deeper learning about healthy relationships and consent;
- Stronger workplace safety legislation that, if passed, would require employers to investigate and address workplace harassment, including sexual harassment;
- An enhanced prosecution model tailored to the needs of sexual assault cases that will help ensure that all such charges are prosecuted as fairly, effectively and respectfully as possible;
- Legislation that, if passed, would eliminate the two-year limitation period for civil sexual assault claims and claims of sexual assault before the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, and;
- Increased and stabilized funding for supports for survivors provided by community partners.
A permanent stakeholder Roundtable on Violence Against Women will be convened to provide advice to the government on ongoing and emerging gender-based violence issues. It’s Never Okay is part of the government’s plan to provide more security, protection and equal opportunity for all Ontarians. It will help ensure that everyone in the province can live in safety and is free from the threat, fear or experience of sexual violence and harassment.
Meanwhile, the New Democrats have said that the party supports any measures that will help change the social, political and economic structures that perpetuate sexual violence and harassment against women and children. An NDP press release said it is important that people have the skills to identify and respond to sexual violence and harassment in the workplace, on campus, online and anywhere Rape Culture exists.
New Democrats will be watching closely to make sure this Action Plan comes with funding commitments, and that progress in meeting its goals is regularly assessed and reported. The government must not duplicate the shortcomings of their 2011 Sexual Violence Action Plan, which the Auditor-General criticized in her 2013 report, for not including measurable goals and timelines.
The party also knows that organizations in the violence against women sector are concerned about the unintended consequences of changes to violence against women funding, which has resulted in cuts to 19 Victim Crisis Assistance Services and the closure of Partner Assault Response programs in Windsor and Toronto. While New Democrats are fully supportive of the new Action Plan, we want to see integrated solutions and real progress, not just talk,” said NDP Women’s Issues critic Peggy Sattler.
“As a woman, ending sexual violence and harassment is a cause I feel strongly about — and as a leader, it is also one I know is right for Ontario. Our action plan is an affirmation that everyone in this province deserves dignity, equality and respect, and is a clarion call to all Ontarians to help end misogyny so that everyone can live free from sexual violence and harassment.”
Premier of Ontario
“Sexual violence and harassment are shockingly prevalent in our society. Our Action Plan is a leap forward in ending both. It asks bystanders to get involved, parents and teachers to seed generational change, employers to ensure safe working environments, and communities to deliver strengthened services and supports for survivors. Together, we can make Ontario safer and more equitable for women and girls.”
Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues
“We all have a role to play in stopping sexual violence and harassment. This Action Plan will help provide better, more responsive services and supports to survivors, and will help us work together to ensure our workplaces, campuses and communities are safer places.”
― Harinder Malhi, MPP
- One in three women 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.