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Ontario’s New Legislation Aims to Combat Sexual Violence and Harassment

Ontario's New Legislation Aims to Combat Sexual Violence and Harassment

Ontario is taking significant steps to create a safer and more inclusive province by introducing groundbreaking legislation designed to combat sexual violence and harassment while providing stronger support for survivors. The government’s proposed Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act, part of the “It’s Never Okay” initiative, is poised to usher in a new era of safety and accountability across workplaces, campuses, and communities.

If passed, this legislation will enforce crucial measures to protect individuals and enhance the response to sexual violence and harassment. The key provisions of the Act include:

– Requiring all publicly assisted colleges, universities, and private career colleges to establish and periodically review stand-alone sexual violence policies in collaboration with students every three years.
– Strengthening requirements for sexual harassment prevention programs and establishing specific employer obligations to safeguard workers, including conducting thorough investigations into incidents and complaints.
– Removing the limitation period for civil proceedings based on sexual assault and, in some cases, sexual misconduct or assault, allowing survivors to file claims whenever they choose.
– Eliminating the limitation period for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence to seek compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
– Expediting the process for terminating tenancy agreements for individuals experiencing sexual or domestic violence, providing survivors with an easier escape from abusive situations.

These legislative changes are part of Ontario’s commitment to create a province where everyone is free from the threat of sexual violence and harassment, and where survivors receive the support they need. The government is also dedicated to providing stable funding to community-based sexual assault centers and hospital-based sexual assault and domestic violence treatment centers, ensuring that survivors have access to the assistance they require.

Furthermore, the province is taking a multifaceted approach to address this issue, with a comprehensive action plan that includes not only legal reforms but also public awareness campaigns. A province-wide public education initiative has been launched to promote a shift in attitudes and behaviors, striving to create a culture that rejects sexual violence and harassment. Additionally, the government has recently announced a Creative Engagement Fund of $2.25 million, aimed at supporting artistic projects that challenge rape culture and promote positive change.

Supporting survivors of sexual violence and creating a safer, more inclusive, and equitable province is an integral part of the government’s broader plan to uplift Ontario. This vision encompasses investing in the development of people’s talents and skills, undertaking the largest-ever public infrastructure investment in the province’s history, fostering an environment where businesses can thrive, and establishing a secure retirement savings plan for the future.

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