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____ Wednesday October 28 , 2015 ____

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Violence and Harassment

Ontario Strengthening Laws to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment

Proposed Legislation Would Help Make Workplaces, Campuses and Communities Safer

Queens Park - Ontario is introducing legislation 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.

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