Ontario Strengthening Laws to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment
Proposed Legislation to Make Campuses in Thunder Bay Safer for Students
Ontario recently introduced legislation that, if passed, will help keep students in Thunder Bay safer from the threat of sexual violence and harassment.
Premier Kathleen Wynne met with student and community leaders at Lakehead University today to discuss how the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act, if passed, would help deliver on the province’s commitments in It’s Never Okay, Ontario’s ground-breaking action plan to stop sexual violence and harassment.
The legislation would make campuses and communities safer and more responsive to the needs of survivors by requiring every publicly assisted college, university and private career college in Thunder Bay and across the province to have a stand-alone sexual violence policy and to review it — with student involvement — at least once every three years.
Other measures in the action plan will support the safety of students by:
Ensuring every campus has a clearly stated protocol to address complaints of sexual violence; providing effective training and prevention programs for faculty, staff and students; and ensuring services and supports for survivors are available 24/7.
Supporting initiatives to reduce sexual violence and ensure safe campuses through funding such as the Women’s Campus Safety Grant.
Making sure that all students are provided with information about preventing sexual violence and are informed of the resources and supports available to them — starting with their first week of orientation and continuing throughout the year, for all years of study.
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 four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province’s history, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives and building a secure retirement savings plan.
“In Canada, one out of every three women will experience some form of sexual assault in her lifetime. By putting the strength of the law behind our commitment to protecting women from sexual harassment and violence, the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act will send a clear signal that violence against women will not be tolerated on our campuses or in our communities.”
— Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
“I am proud of our government’s plan to tackle this issue and provide support for students on campuses across Ontario. Ensuring sexual violence and harassment is a priority for all of us is absolutely vital to both being and feeling safe on campus. This is part of our plan to build Ontario up, by recognizing the unique nature of Northern Ontario students and providing the support they need to succeed.”
— Michael Gravelle, MPP, Thunder Bay-Superior North
“Lakehead University’s aim has been to create an environment in which sexual violence and harassment is not tolerated, and in which individuals feel able to come forward and report instances of sexual violence and harassment. The work that our government and our University have done has been intense and rewarding; however it remains, of course, a work in progress.”
— Dr. Brian J.R. Stevenson, President & Vice-Chancellor, Lakehead University
“Dr. Maya Angelou once said ‘Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.’ Lakehead University cares. While Lakehead has recognized this problem and already taken important steps to address it, the provincial government is also stepping forward to make improvements. Lakehead University, and now the province of Ontario, recognized that there was a problem that needed to be addressed; that they could do better for students. And so they have.”
— Sherrie-Lee Chiarot-Petrie, Lakehead University graduate student
Students and survivors can access services at the Student Health and Counselling Centre at Lakehead University and the Health Centre or Counselling Office at Confederation College. Services are also available within the community, such as at the Thunder Bay Sexual Assault & Sexual Abuse Counselling & Crisis Centre.
In 2014–15, more than 17,000 students studied at Confederation College and Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.
Ontario has committed $41 million over three years to support the action plan’s implementation.
Through a $3 million innovation fund, Ontario is supporting creative new projects to enhance community support for survivors of sexual violence.
Sexual assault victimization rates are five times higher for women under the age of 35.
Over half of sexual assaults of postsecondary students involve alcohol or drugs.