Kathleen Wynne has put together an initiative to tackle the issue of sexual assault. Her 35-page proposal outlines how she is planning to address the problem in the workplace, legal system and schools over the course of the next three years. Here’s a quick legal outline of her initiative.
1. She aims to eliminate the two-year statute of limitations on sexual assault claims for both civil claims and claims of sexual assault before the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB). The C.I.C.B allows victims of sexual abuse to seek compensation for their losses and helps cover any health issues that arise as a result of the assault.
2. Colleges and universities will now have sexual assault policies. This issue has become quiet prevalent and following the Dalhousie dentistry incident. Following the Dalhousie incident, it was discovered that some of the top universities in Ontario do not have policies against sexual assault and merely state that sexual assault will be addressed in accordance to the Criminal Code. This explanation is rather vague and ambiguous since students are not informed about the process and penal consequences of being charged with sexual assault.
To further strengthen her stance, Ms. Wynne has insisted that these policies will be required to be renewed and updated every four years and will incorporate mandatory student input throughout the four years. Hence, students will now have a voice in policies. Schools will also be required to publicly report rates of sexual violence.
Why is this relevant? High rates of sexual violence and abuse can deter prospective students and professors from choosing a particular university due to its negative image.
Furthermore, schools must also have clear complaint protocols and response practices.
Why is this important? If sexual assault is dealt with in a swift, consistent and severe manner, the number of sexual assaults is presumed to decrease. It also sends a clear message to sexual offenders about the consequences of sexual assault.
3. Students will learn about consent, healthy relationships and gender inequality at an earlier age. The aim is to start early so teenagers are more aware of their bodies and can make informed decisions. The curriculum will now address some of these topics as early as grade one and to continue to do so through until grade 12.
4. Tackling workplace harassment is also on Ms. Wynne’s list of initiatives. She has expanded on workplace safety legislation to compel employers to address and investigate all forms of harassment.
5. Last but not least, Liberals are suggesting they would like to advance and accelerate the prosecution of sexual assault cases.
How do you feel about these developments? Do you believe they would be effective?
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