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Ontario government looking to improve sexual violence policies at universities, colleges

Click to play video: 'Ontario government working on policy changes to better protect post secondary students reporting sexual assault and violence'
Ontario government working on policy changes to better protect post secondary students reporting sexual assault and violence
WATCH: Students won't be questioned about sexual history if amendments to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act pass. – Jan 28, 2021

In a Jan. 27 media release, the Ontario government stated it is working on changes to better protect post-secondary students reporting harassment and sexual violence.

Proposed amendments to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act would require post secondary institutions to have policies that ensure students don’t face “irrelevant questions” about their sexual history.

Students would not have to deal with repercussions for “violating an institution’s drug and alcohol policy” the government release states.

Maryam Pandi, executive director of Sexual Assault Centre Kingston, says the provincial policy change is long overdue but an important first step in addressing sexual violence at universities and colleges.

“We certainly think these are positive steps to … reducing barriers for survivors to come forward with allegations of sexual violence on campus,” said Pandi

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Pandi says more needs to happen to create the culture shift necessary to protect sexual violence survivors.

“We hope that efforts on policy making, practices and culture change will be ongoing,” said Pandi, “and then they will have supports from the government to actually be able to be ongoing and again they will be centred around voices of our survivors.”

Queen’s University established Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Task Force in 2013 and has an ongoing working group.

The university did not provide anyone to respond to Global Kingston’s questions about the Ontario government’s proposed policy changes.

Sexual Assault Centre Kingston has been working with Queen’s Task Force, Pandi told Global Kingston

“We have been able to make our recommendations and suggestions from a trauma informed perspective which we really appreciate. We hope that this could be replicated through other post secondary institutes as well.” said Pandi

The provincial government is currently conducting online public consultation about the policy amendments until March 15, 2021.

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