Ontario Enhances Protections for Students Reporting Sexual Violence on Campus
Date: September 21, 2021
As a new academic year commences, the Ontario government is taking additional steps to address sexual violence on post-secondary campuses.
The government has filed O. Reg. 646/21 (Amending Regulation), which amends O. Reg. 131/16, Sexual Violence at Colleges and Universities, made under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act, to include additional protections for college and university students who disclose or report sexual violence. The Amending Regulation applies to private career colleges as well. These new requirements come into force on March 1, 2022.
Specifically, the Amending Regulation requires universities and colleges to ensure that their sexual violence policies prevent issuing discipline against a student who is found to have violated the institution’s drug and alcohol policies when such a violation is disclosed in the course of good faith efforts to report sexual violence.
Furthermore, the Amending Regulation requires that these policies contain a statement that prevents staff or investigators of a university or college from asking irrelevant questions (such as those relating to past sexual history or sexual expression) during an investigation into a report of sexual violence.
O. Reg. 131/16 already includes several requirements for university and college sexual violence policies. Among other things, these policies must require that students affected by sexual violence are provided with information about applicable support resources, are provided sufficient accommodation during any reporting of or investigation into sexual violence, and are not required to report sexual violence in order to access support resources at the university or college.
It is recommended that universities and colleges take this opportunity to review the content of your sexual violence policies and obligations under O. Reg. 131/16 to ensure that you remain compliant with these important legal requirements. The Amending Regulation will be an integral element of preventing and appropriately investigating instances of sexual violence.
Universities and colleges should continue to ensure that all students are appropriately protected during the course of a sexual violence investigation. For example, you should ensure that employees with leadership roles under your institution’s policies understand their obligations to prevent delays or missteps in the response protocols of the university or college.
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