Human Resources Legislative Update
Reminder to Universities and Colleges: New Requirements for Sexual Violence Policies Coming into Force on March 1, 2022
Date: February 15, 2022
On March 1, 2022, new requirements will come into force that require universities and colleges to ensure that their sexual violence policies prevent 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 (please see our FTR Now of September 21, 2021 Ontario Enhances Protections for Students Reporting Sexual Violence on Campus).
Sexual violence policies will also need to contain a statement that prevents staff or investigators of a university or college from asking irrelevant questions (such as those related to past sexual history or sexual expression) during an investigation into a report of sexual violence. This requirement will apply to both internal and external investigations.
These requirements are enacted by O. Reg. 646/21 (Amending Regulation) which amends O. Reg. 131/16, Sexual Violence At Colleges And Universities (Regulation) made under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act. They are in addition to the existing requirements for university and college sexual violence policies.
Considerations and Next Steps
The new requirements align with the legal obligation of universities and colleges under the Ontario Human Rights Code to create learning, living and working environments for students that are free from sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual solicitation and sexual reprisal.
A thoughtful, proactive approach
Once in force, the Amending Regulation will require universities and colleges to reflect on policy and operational matters including how the institution will:
- determine whether a complaint of sexual violence has been made in “good faith,”
- educate employees on acceptable lines of inquiry during a sexual violence investigation, and
- vet the qualifications of external investigators for sexual violence investigations.
Finally, we remind you that section 3(1) of the Regulation requires the involvement of elected student governing bodies for the provision and consideration of input from a diverse selection of students regarding the sexual violence policy of a college or university.
As such, the Regulation continues to present an opportunity for university and colleges to engage students’ lived experiences in the evolution of their sexual violence policies
We welcome you to contact Njeri Damali Sojourner-Campbell or your regular Hicks Morley lawyer if you require any assistance with respect to your sexual violence policies.
The article in this client update provides general information and should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. This publication is copyrighted by Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP and may not be photocopied or reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without the express permission of Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP. ©