Province Passes Act to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment
Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Progress Report Released
March 8, 2016
Today Ontario passed the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act to help build a province where everyone is free from the threat of sexual violence and harassment, and to strengthen support for survivors.
The legislation is one of the 13 commitments within It’s Never Okay, the government’s $41 million ground-breaking action plan to stop sexual violence and harassment. The Act aims to make workplaces, campuses and communities safer and more responsive to the needs of survivors and to complaints about sexual violence and harassment.
To mark the one-year anniversary of the action plan, the government is also releasing a 2015-16 Progress Report, which highlights the unprecedented actions Ontario has taken in the last year to help end sexual violence and harassment in the province.
Highlights of progress include:
- Raising Public Awareness: Launched #WhoWillYouHelp, and #ItsNeverOkay, two-phases of a multi-media public education campaign that have reached over 85 million and over 56 million respectively to date, to raise awareness about and change attitudes toward sexual violence, harassment and assault.
- More Training for Professionals: Invested in training for front-line workers in health, education, justice, community and hospitality sectors who help and support survivors of sexual and domestic violence.
- More Choices and Better Outcomes for Survivors through the Justice System: Invested in research that examines issues surrounding sexual violence reporting to help improve police response.
- Seeding Generational Change: Updated the Health and Physical Education Curriculum to help students in grades 1-12 understand consent, healthy relationships and online safety.
- Safer Workplaces, Safer Campuses, Safer Communities: Introduced and passed the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act to make campuses, workplaces, homes and communities safer from sexual violence and harassment.
- More Help and Better Supports for Survivors in the Community: Provided additional funding to support sexual and domestic violence treatment centres and sexual assault centres to enhance support for survivors and help them heal.
- On March 8, communities around the world celebrate International Women’s Day.
- One in three women in Canada will experience some form of sexual assault in their 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 at work.
- Ontario also released Walking Together: A Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women, a commitment within It’s Never Okay.
“When I unveiled It’s Never Okay one year ago, I said that we can and must do better. Over the past year, we have challenged deep-seated attitudes and behaviours, myths and stereotypes that normalize or trivialize sexual violence and harassment. And we have confronted the rape culture and misogyny that are at its root. The action plan sets us on a path to create a society where everyone can live free of fear and threat of sexual violence and harassment. We will continue working with our partners to implement the plan, monitor our progress and work towards building a safer province for all.”
“On International Women’s Day, our commitment to give survivors the supports they need and to keep our campuses, workplaces and communities safer is reaffirmed with the passing of this legislation. We know it takes all of us to bring about change in our society and with our action plan as a guide, we will continue moving forward with community partners in education, health and justice to build on our early progress and create an Ontario that is safe, equal and respectful for everyone.”
Ontario’s Women’s Directorate