STANDING COMMITTEE ON
COMITÉ PERMANENT DE
LA POLITIQUE SOCIALE
Tuesday 19 January 2016 Mardi 19 janvier 2016
Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016 Loi de 2016 sur le Plan d’action contre la violence et le harcèlement sexuels (en soutien aux survivants et en opposition à la violence et au harcèlement sexuels)
The committee met at 1300 in the Holiday Inn Peterborough Waterfront Hotel, Peterborough.
Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016 Loi de 2016 sur le Plan d’action contre la violence et le harcèlement sexuels (en soutien aux survivants et en opposition à la violence et au harcèlement sexuels)
Consideration of the following bill:
Bill 132, An Act to amend various statutes with respect to sexual violence, sexual harassment, domestic violence and related matters / Projet de loi 132, Loi modifiant diverses lois en ce qui concerne la violence sexuelle, le harcèlement sexuel, la violence familiale et des questions connexes.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to Peterborough.
Hon. Jeff Leal: Peter, if I could just have one moment to welcome everybody to Peterborough, and then I’ll get out of your hair.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): By all means. Mr. Leal, please proceed.
Hon. Jeff Leal: Thank you so much. I won’t keep you away from your important business. I just wanted to drop by and welcome you all to the great riding of Peterborough, members from all sides of the House, which is so important and one of the great strengths of the parliamentary process in the province of Ontario and indeed throughout Canada. Our standing committees get to tour communities and take a look at very important legislation that’s being brought through the Legislature—and an opportunity to come up with good ideas to amend it. This is about listening to the grassroots, for them to make presentations on legislation. Again, on all sides, first of all I want to wish you all the very best in 2016. Thank you for being in Peterborough.
Mr. Chair, I’ll turn it back over to you and I will get back to my office and meet some people. How’s that?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you, Mr. Leal. It’s good to have you here.
I think, colleagues, the Standing Committee on Social Policy will now come to order. We’re here for public hearings on Bill 132, An Act to amend various statutes with respect to sexual violence, sexual harassment, domestic violence and related matters. A package of written submissions has been distributed to you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): First on the agenda is the report of the subcommittee on committee business. I understand that Ms. McGarry will read the report into the record. Ms. McGarry.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Your subcommittee on committee business met on Monday, December 14, 2015, to consider the method of proceeding on the order of the House dated Thursday, December 10, 2015, relating to Bill 132, An Act to amend various statutes with respect to sexual violence, sexual harassment, domestic violence and related matters, and recommends the following:
(1) That pursuant to the order of the House dated Thursday, December 10, 2015, the committee be authorized to meet in Peterborough, Sault Ste. Marie, London and Toronto to hold public hearings.
(2) That the committee Clerk, in consultation with the Chair, post information regarding public hearings on the Legislative Assembly website, the Ontario parliamentary channel, and Canada NewsWire.
(3) That the committee Clerk, in consultation with the Chair, place an advertisement for one day regarding public hearings in one major newspaper of each of the cities in which the committee intends to meet, and that advertisements be placed in English-language and French-language papers where possible.
(4) That the committee Clerk, in consultation with the Chair, send the notice of public hearings to parties who made submissions to the Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment, where contact information is publicly available.
(5) That interested parties who wish to be considered to make an oral presentation contact the committee Clerk by 5 p.m. on Monday, January 11, 2016.
(6) That if all requests to appear can be accommodated in any location, the committee Clerk, in consultation with the Chair, be authorized to schedule the witnesses.
(7) That if not all requests can be scheduled in any location, the committee Clerk provide the subcommittee members with the list of requests to appear; and that the subcommittee members prioritize and return the list to the committee Clerk by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, January 12, 2016.
(8) That late requests to appear may be considered, if there is space in any location.
(9) That witnesses be offered up to 10 minutes for their presentation, and that witnesses be scheduled in 15-minute time slots to allow for questions from committee members.
(10) That the deadline for written submissions be 5 p.m. on Friday, January 22, 2016.
(11) That the research officer provide the committee with a summary of submissions by 5 p.m. on Friday, February 5, 2016.
(12) That the committee authorize one staff person from each recognized party to travel with the committee, space permitting, and that reasonable expenses incurred for travel, accommodation and meals be paid for by the committee upon receipt of a properly filed expense claim.
(13) That the committee Clerk, in consultation with the Chair, be authorized prior to the adoption of the subcommittee report to commence making any preliminary arrangements necessary to facilitate the committee’s proceedings.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Any discussion? There being none, are members ready to vote? Shall the subcommittee report be adopted? All those in favour? All those opposed? The report is carried.
Now we’re moving on to presentations. Each presenter has a 15-minute time slot. The presenter has up to 10 minutes for their presentation. The remaining time may be used for questions from committee members. Members, if there are more than five minutes remaining, we’ll divide the time among the three parties; otherwise, we’ll give it to one party in rotation.
Trent Central Student Association Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): We’ll begin with our first presenter, and that’s Trent University: Hilary Stafford. Please come up. If you would introduce yourself, when you have a seat, for the purposes of Hansard, and please proceed.
Ms. Hilary Stafford: Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. Hello. My name is Hilary Stafford and I’m a fourth-year Trent student here in Peterborough. My hometown is Renfrew, Ontario. I am here today to speak with you in regard to Bill 132 through my position as vice-president, campaigns and equity, at the Trent Central Student Association, as well as through my position as an executive member on the board of directors for the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario.
I chose to run for a position in student politics because I wanted to make a difference and represent the voices of students who are not necessarily heard. It has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my life thus far, and I have learned so many new things about myself. I have also had the opportunity to work with a number of great leaders who are making a difference not only at Trent University but at schools across the country.
Bill 132 is an amazing step in the right direction in regard to combatting sexual violence. Students have been calling for this for over 30 years. This is extremely important to students everywhere. So thank you for ensuring that specific safety measures have been put in place, and for including the student voice.
Today I would like to discuss some changes that my fellow executive members of the Trent Central Student Association and the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario have put forward.
Firstly, I would like to point out how, within schedule 3, on the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities Act, subsection 17(1), the definition of sexual violence has no specific mention of campus content. I, along with my other executive members, feel that including a mention of campus life is important within this definition because it will help to ensure that the focus is placed on post-secondary campuses, which is the purpose of this specific section within the act.
A second recommendation is to include stronger language within Bill 132 in order to ensure that the severity of sexual violence is expressed. A specific act of sexual violence that is currently not mentioned is intimate partner violence. This act needs to be included within Bill 132 because presently this type of violence is described as a dating issue instead of the act of sexual violence, which it may be. It is very important that this be included because, as statistics show, often the victim of sexual violence knows their attacker. By not including intimate partner violence, the traditional idea of “stranger danger” is extremely prevalent, and this is not an accurate representation of sexual violence in a relationship setting.
In addition to intimate partner violence, the issue of receiving requests for sexual favours should be included. Often such requests are not immediately recognized as sexual violence, so including them as such in the bill will ensure that they are addressed.
It is also important to recognize that both verbal and non-verbal acts of sexual violence can occur.
Within section 3 of this schedule, a sexual violence policy for post-secondary institutions is discussed. Section 17(3)(a) states that the sexual violence policy at each institution will “specifically and solely” address “sexual violence involving students enrolled at the college or university.” The problem with the policy focusing solely on students is that it is not including everyone who is part of the campus community. Here in Peterborough at Trent University there are a number of different individuals who make up the campus community, including students, teaching faculty, and a number of staff persons for a number of different departments. This will be similar to all post-secondary institutions across the province. Any individual is at risk for sexual violence, so it is important to include every individual that makes up a campus community within a sexual violence policy. Assuming that faculty and staff will be protected under their respective unions is unfair, hence why everyone should fall under the same sexual violence policy that is put in place by the post-secondary institution.
Something else to keep in mind when dealing with sexual violence policies on post-secondary campuses is that student input is included. The current bill states that student input should be considered, but in the opinions of both myself and other student leaders, it is important that the wording of the bill reflect the fact that student input should be included, not just considered. Students play a huge role in campus communities, and so our input should be included in the policy that is going to affect our school environments.
Section 5 of schedule 3 states that schools should review their sexual violence policy at least once every three years and amend it as appropriate. While this is an excellent practice, myself and the other executives on the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario believe that the policy should be reviewed every two years. This will ensure that the policy is viewed as a priority. If each school were to create a standing committee to review the policy, one that also met regularly and continuously to address other issues as they came up, then it would be ensured that the policy would be a priority for the post-secondary institution. If there is a constant discussion surrounding this policy, then student issues will stay at the forefront of the discussion, along with the concerns of other community members.
One final improvement upon the current bill would be to include a climate survey surrounding sexual violence at post-secondary institutions. This would help to ensure that data collection at post-secondary campuses is more accurate, while also providing a way to include acts of sexual violence that are not put forward to the school.
In conclusion, I would once again like to state how Bill 132 is an excellent start in combatting sexual violence. All of the proposed changes that I have mentioned will ensure that this bill represents all individuals on post-secondary campuses.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you, Ms. Stafford. The first questions go to the official opposition. Mr. Yakabuski?
Mr. John Yakabuski: Thank you very much. I didn’t realize you were from Renfrew, so I have to ask the questions or at least maybe get some clarification. There are a lot of parts here where you’ve suggested some changes. I can’t write fast enough to cover them all, but we’re certainly going to review the Hansard.
You’ve talked about a campus context in 17(1). Have you looked at any specific wording as to how we would amend that to ensure that those concerns were being addressed?
Ms. Hilary Stafford: I think one of the main concerns we noticed was just that the word “campus” isn’t used. If even in some of the wording it said “through campus activities” or “through the campus community,” then I think that would add a bit more of that context.
Mr. John Yakabuski: So we’re talking about the colleges but we’re not talking about the campus—you’re talking about the specific campus location, the geographic location?
Ms. Hilary Stafford: No, sorry, the community that would make up the campus; for example, at Trent University, the Trent University community.
Mr. John Yakabuski: Okay. As I said, we’ll have an opportunity to look at the Hansard as well.
You talked about five or six different spots here where you want to see some changes or some strengthening. That’s what we’re here for, to find out how we can actually make the bill stronger, better or more effective. I know you have clearly indicated that you appreciate the bill, and all members have supported the bill in the House, but if there are things that we can do to improve it, I’m sure we’ll be looking at that.
Ms. Hilary Stafford: Great. Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Ms. Scott, did you have any questions?
Ms. Laurie Scott: Are you doing a rotation, or what would you like to do?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): You still have about a minute.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Okay. Peggy, do you want—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I can go on to the third party.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Yes.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Ms. Sattler, please proceed.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you very much. I really appreciated your reference to the need to include intimate partner violence. That was a point that I had made when I spoke to the bill initially and it’s something that has been recommended by the coroner in the domestic violence death review committees.
Your thought is that the definition in section 17(1) should be amended to make explicit reference to intimate partner violence as well as requests for sexual favours. In cases of intimate partner violence, would you see the need for separate processes to be spelled out, or do you see that the policy would apply to both sexual violence and intimate partner violence in the same way? Would there be a need to describe different processes depending on what kind of violence the student had experienced?
Ms. Hilary Stafford: I do think that there would be a need for separate processes, as dating violence could fall under a different situation than a typical act of sexual violence. So while I believe there are many similarities, and sexual violence is sexual violence, I think the dating situation might need to be approached slightly differently than a normal sexually violent act would be approached.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Okay. Do you have some thoughts about the content of the sexual violence policy, and specifically dealing with intimate partner violence? Is that other input that CFS or Trent University could be providing to the committee?
Ms. Hilary Stafford: Yes. I don’t have anything with me at the moment, but I’d be more than happy to get something across to the committee once I’ve gotten that information, if possible.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Okay, that would be excellent.
The other issue, receiving requests for sexual favours: This is new to me; it’s not something that I’d heard before. Are you aware that this happens frequently on campus? Can you give us a better understanding of what that includes?
Ms. Hilary Stafford: I’ve never personally heard of it happening at the Peterborough campus. But when we mentioned it, our thought was if, say, a person in a position of authority, such as a professor or a teaching assistant or something like that, were to say to a student, “Oh, I’ll give you a better grade if you do this.” That’s kind of the situation that we were thinking of: if a person of authority is using sexual acts against a student.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Okay. More questions?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): You have about 20 seconds left.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Okay. I’ll go to the—
Ms. Hilary Stafford: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Okay. We’ll go to the government. Ms. Malhi?
Ms. Harinder Malhi: First of all, thank you for being here. It’s nice to see that student associations are taking such an active role in the sexual violence and harassment policies that you want to see come out.
As part of Bill 132, there is a portion of it that talks about having students playing an active role when we develop or change these policies. How would you think your student association, or the other group that you’re affiliated with, would want to take that active role? What would you do to help us in making those amendments? How would you want to participate?
Ms. Hilary Stafford: I think that being able to provide our opinion and being able to comment on the things in the bill are most important. Also having a chance to review the bill once everything has been changed, just to ensure that if there is anything else we notice, or just being able to give our input and having it be included, I think, is the most important thing.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Thank you so much.
Ms. Hilary Stafford: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Are there other questions? Ms. McGarry?
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: You suggested a number of different areas where the universities, under Bill 132, might be increased. One of the examples was instead of reviewing the policy every three years, reviewing it every two years. Can you expand a little bit on that?
Ms. Hilary Stafford: Sure. We just feel that by reviewing it every two years, it’s going to ensure that it’s more at the forefront of policies. We have often seen that policies that are only reviewed every three years may not necessarily be given as much thought as often as other policies that are reviewed more frequently. We feel that by it being reviewed every two years, it’s going to ensure that it is at the forefront of both the university’s and students’ minds.
We also feel that, if you think about it, if a policy was put in place in a student’s first year, then it wouldn’t technically be reviewed until they were in their third year, and that’s almost at the end of their academic career. By having it reviewed every two years, it’s ensuring that for most students, that would be twice within their academic career. That’s going to be an opportunity for that to occur while they are still at Trent University or other post-secondary institutions.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Okay. I also had another quick question. In the current form of Bill 132—and it appears that you’ve gone through it with a fine-toothed comb, and I really appreciate that—which element of the proposed legislation do you find to be the most important, and why?
Ms. Hilary Stafford: I do think the most important is having a sexual assault policy at the schools, just because if there is no legislation in place at that school, then when situations arise, there really is no specific outline as to how things should be dealt with, or that kind of thing. I think that having policies at every post-secondary institution is the most important.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Okay. Do I have some time left?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Just 15 seconds.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Okay. Do you use the #WhoWillYouHelp hashtag here at school?
Ms. Hilary Stafford: We do, yes. I actually run the Draw the Line campaign through my office.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Wonderful. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Okay. Thank you very much.
Ms. Hilary Stafford: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Our next presenter, then, is Trent University: Louise Fish and Ruth Walker. As you’ve seen, you have up to 10 minutes to speak. Time that’s left will be apportioned to the parties for questions. If you’d introduce yourselves for Hansard.
Ms. Louise Fish: Yes, good afternoon. I’m Louise Fish, the director of risk management at Trent University. My portfolio includes health and safety and campus security. Thank you for this opportunity to comment on Bill 132.
Sexual violence is an issue of concern for Trent University. We’ve convened a sexual violence working group with 18 student representatives from all student governments, as well as independent graduate students who often are researchers in the field itself. The working group has developed a stand-alone policy which has been endorsed by our executive committee and will be approved by the full board later this month. The working group will continue to review and recommend enhancements to our existing sexual violence prevention, response and support programs. Once Bill 132 is enacted as law, the committee will review our policy and procedures again to ensure full compliance. On Hilary’s comment, I do note that the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that the health and safety policies of every institution be reviewed annually.
Sexual violence is also of personal concern to me. Since the 1970s, when I was a university student, I’ve endured and fought against misogyny and its inevitable by-product, sexual violence. In the 1980s and 1990s, I was a naval officer and sexual violence was a sad by-product of introducing women into more and more military roles and environments. As we’ve seen from incidents in the last year, it remains an issue today.
I returned to the university sector in the late 1990s to find that misogyny and sexual violence remain issues of concern. That’s over 40 years of tilting at the same windmill, which stubbornly remains in place.
Trent University supports and embraces the Premier’s action plan which puts two bold initiatives in place to address sexual violence. The first initiative, adding respect and consent to the primary and secondary school curricula, speaks to the future. It is our hope that a generation hence, students entering university will understand that every person deserves sexual and physical autonomy by the simple virtue of their personhood.
The second initiative, Bill 132, provides stronger tools for dealing with the existing culture in which sexual violence continues. Most Ontario universities, including Trent, have been combating sexual violence for decades with prevention and awareness campaigns, policies and protocols and a range of internal and community supports for survivors. At Trent, for instance, we have been posting our statistics on reported incidents of sexual violence, along with other violent incidents, for a decade. They’re posted online.
Legislation such as Bill 168, which amended the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the Human Rights Code already provide guidance and direction for dealing with sexual violence and harassment. We welcome the additional direction of Bill 132. That said, we have a few suggestions to strengthen the bill as it pertains to the university sector.
Our first recommendation is in regard to the scope of the legislation, which requires a policy focused exclusively on students. Please note that all of our graduate students and many of our undergrads are also university employees and therefore subject to the provision of their collective agreement and existing university policies and procedures on workplace violence, including sexual violence. As well, one of the parties to an incident of sexual violence may be a student and the other a faculty or staff member. We recommend a survivor-centric approach to the scope of the policy that includes students, staff and faculty to provide consistent and timely response and support to the entire university community.
At this point, I’d like to introduce my colleague, Ruth Walker, Trent’s health services clinical team leader, who will provide additional recommendations.
Ms. Ruth Walker: Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you about Trent’s response and prevention of sexual violence strategies. Trent University has a variety of supports in place to respond to cases of sexual violence and we provide multiple points of contact for support.
We have increased our efforts to inform student leaders and staff about supporting survivors of sexual violence, both current and historical, and what to do if they receive a disclosure. This education has included how to access community resources such as Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre and the sexual assault program at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre. We are pleased to have positive working relationships with these community partners.
We have also added a specific staff training session regarding sexual assault survivor support to our Student Support Certificate program. On-campus supports by professional staff are available through a number of departments, including Student Health Services, Trent Counselling Centre, campus security, housing and the Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Accessibility.
In terms of how this applies to Bill 132, Trent University recommends that this legislation make allowance for these multiple points of contact, which include some services that are entirely confidential, such as counselling and health services. As a nurse and someone who receives disclosures, I see first-hand the importance of confidentiality. Survivors must have a safe environment for seeking support.
If there is a perception that accessing health or counselling services will result in a formal report to the university, this will prevent individuals from coming forward for the help they need. As such, Trent University’s policy clearly states that accessing student wellness services does not constitute a formal report to the university; however, reporting options can always be made available during these confidential services.
In regards to disclosures, it is important that survivors be afforded choice regarding if and how they access support. They can choose to, or not to, access counselling or health services; they can choose, if they want, to confidentially disclose experiences of sexual violence, yet not seek formal resolution; they can choose whether or not they report sexual violence formally to the university; they can choose whether or not formal action be taken against the person who has assaulted them.
Sexual violence is not about sex; it is about power and control, and survivors must be afforded choices for support. Therefore, Trent is recommending that Bill 132 allow universities the flexibility to distinguish between reporting and disclosing, as well as the ability to ensure that survivors have access to confidential services.
As for reporting, in order to include the multiple sources of support and maintain privacy legislation and our commitment to confidentiality, the legislated requirements for Bill 132, as written, will require universities to establish complex reporting processes. The level of campus resources required to develop a system for reporting the number of times that supports and services related to sexual violence are requested or obtained by a student will be substantial. However, this information could be efficiently collected through a climate survey. A climate survey, or campus assessment data, would allow universities to better understand the attitudes, experiences and behaviours of students and other campus community members. It would provide a more accurate picture of sexual violence, as Hilary has already spoken about.
Based on the confidential National College Health Assessment survey conducted at Trent in 2013, we could see a major discrepancy between the number of reports made to security that year and the number of students who indicated on that survey that they’d experienced sexual violence. A standardized survey administered to all universities would provide consistent surveillance and would allow us to monitor progress and inform change more effectively. Therefore, Trent, alongside other Ontario universities, is advocating for the development and implementation of a campus climate survey for use across Ontario as a method for some of the reporting requirements proposed in Bill 132.
Sexual assault prevention work is also another important area for post-secondary institutions. Trent has been delivering and refining sexual violence awareness and bystander intervention initiatives for a number of years. This fall, a workshop was created involving collaboration of multiple departments and ongoing consultations with students. During orientation week, these workshops were co-facilitated by students, student staff and professional staff. The Trent Central Student Association has also run the Draw the Line campaign with support from Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre and our Student Wellness Centre.
However, each year universities across the province dedicate time and financial resources to reviewing and creating campaigns, awareness materials and educational initiatives regarding sexual violence prevention. There is a need for province-wide educational resources that can be used on campuses but hold enough flexibility that they can be tailored to the needs of each campus. It is also important that province-wide campaigns and training material be provided with enough time to implement an inclusive, campus-wide approach and to engage community partners effectively.
Providing comprehensive services, response and prevention strategies on campus requires human resources, time and the expertise of trained professionals; however, existing student wellness resources are at capacity. We greatly appreciate our partnerships with the violence-against-women sector, and we recognize that by raising Trent University’s awareness of their services, it will also increase their demand. We echo the statements made by the violence-against-women sector and draw public attention to what could become a significant access issue, recognizing that outside of large metropolitan areas, access to services can be very challenging. Trent recognizes—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say this, but I’ll have to ask you to start to wrap up, because you’ve got about 10 seconds left.
Ms. Ruth Walker: Okay. So we recognize that this is an issue beyond post-secondary institutions for the general public and we welcome this bill. We are thrilled that it provides more opportunity to engage effectively with community partners, and we recognize that this is an exciting time to come together and see sexual violence prevention move forward collaboratively and strategically.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much. And the questions go, because we’re under five minutes, to the third party. Ms. Sattler?
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Yes, thank you very much. First of all, I want to say how nice it was to see the reinforcement that you provided for the earlier presentation, particularly around including staff and faculty in the scope, and also the climate survey to be undertaken.
My question is around the reporting, the concerns you flagged about the implications of reporting. That’s all included in section 7 of the—I don’t know what that is. That’s section 7 or subsection 7. Anyway, it’s the section that’s titled “Information for Minister.” There, it specifically refers to the number of times that supports are requested and obtained by students. Is it your recommendation that that be removed from the bill? Is that what you were recommending?
Ms. Ruth Walker: I think that would be the recommendation, as long as there are other ways to track that, of course. The recommendation is that, rather than taking that approach, a climate survey, or having assessment data on campuses that’s standardized across campuses, will be more efficient and give us quality information that can help us track and see outcomes and ultimately meet the goals of what we want to see and having outcomes more effectively than as it’s written currently.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: How often would you see a climate survey being conducted? The first one would be a baseline, and then are you thinking of an annual survey of campuses across the province?
Ms. Ruth Walker: I think that an annual survey would allow universities and the provincial government to track on a tighter timeline, so you can see change perhaps more quickly than if you were to—or not see change, and then understand at an earlier point in time what you may need to change sooner, in order to see better outcomes.
I think once a year would be very powerful and give us quality data that we could implement sooner than in the long run.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: You mentioned at the beginning the sexual violence working group that included 18 student representatives and grad students. Was this the feeling, the consensus of that working group, that the data requirements were too onerous for the institutions?
Ms. Ruth Walker: We have not had an opportunity to specifically discuss the bill at that working group. However, in terms of reporting and what that looks like, it has been an ongoing conversation recognizing the multiple departments that are involved and what that looks like. This would provide a solution for the many challenges we’ve brought forward in that working group.
If you’d like to add anything—
Ms. Louise Fish: Yes. You heard Hilary talking about a climate survey as well, which we conduct regularly now. There might be a barrier, a reluctance to access services if you felt that it might be reported that you’d done so. I know it will be confidential and all that. A survey was supported by the group, when we talked about this, before the latest iteration of the bill passed second reading.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): You have no further questions?
Ms. Peggy Sattler: I guess I’m asking so many questions about the data reporting aspect of the bill because I know that this was welcomed by some student organizations as an important way to measure the effectiveness of the policies and to look at differences across institutions, so you can look at what’s working well in one place. There would also be consistency of reporting. The ministry’s obligation would be to develop the definitions of what is to be reported and how it’s to be collected, so that you’re comparing apples to apples and you’re not looking at—you know, there was that CBC survey that was all over the map in terms of the numbers of incidents on campus. Trent has already, obviously, been a leader. You said you posted already online.
But I’m wondering if there are other ways that we could keep this reporting, and address the resource implications as well as the confidentiality of the people who are experiencing sexual violence on campus.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’ll just let you know that you have 20 seconds left.
Ms. Ruth Walker: I think that that may be a possibility. The additional factors that are built into a climate survey would be those behavioural perceptions added to changes that wouldn’t be captured in the language as it’s written now.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much.
YWCA Peterborough Haliburton
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Our next presenter, then, is YWCA Peterborough Haliburton: Lynn Zimmer. Ms. Zimmer, as you know, you have up to 10 minutes to present. If you’d introduce yourself for Hansard so it’s recorded.
Ms. Lynn Zimmer: Hello. My name is Lynn Zimmer. I’m the executive director of YWCA Peterborough Haliburton.
Mr. Chair and committee members, the YWCA in Peterborough operates a women’s shelter, and we also operate permanent housing for women and children who have escaped violence, so we are in the landlord business as well as the shelter business. My comments will be about the changes to the Residential Tenancies Act. They’re general, because I found the language of the act kind of mind-numbing to try to step through, and I wondered, will this not be very difficult to understand?
It is well recognized in the violence-against-women sector that a woman faces the greatest risk of harm when she’s leaving an abusive relationship. At that time, there’s physical risk of harm from her former partner, which is very high, but there are other, less tangible risks. A woman fleeing violence faces an immediate risk of homelessness when she turns to a shelter for safety. She will be safe for as long as her shelter stay lasts, but finding affordable housing to move to from the shelter is a huge obstacle. For some women, this will become a cycle of couch-surfing among friends and family that increases her risk of experiencing further violence and sexual assault.
Some of the other, less tangible risks a woman faces have to do with the stigma that attaches to victims of domestic violence in residential tenancy situations. There’s often a lack of nuance, to say the least, in people’s understanding of violence in relationships. It is easy to believe, when you’re only hearing events through a wall, that the fighting is mutual and that the victim is as responsible for the situation as the aggressive partner is. She may be making the most noise. After all, it takes two to tango, we hear people say. This misunderstanding of the mechanisms of gender-based violence in relationships leads to discrimination against the victim in the rental marketplace, where she may be seen as every bit as problematic a tenant as the perpetrator of the violence.
Looking at this from the perspective of the victim illustrates some of the complexity. A woman has come to a difficult decision to leave an abusive relationship. She may have children to provide for. She will be struggling with emotional and physical scars from the abuse she has experienced. She may have an ex-partner who is escalating in violence and harassment, and whom she cannot avoid because he is the father of the children. She finds herself in the centre of an intricate web of problems, and she may not know where to turn for help.
Abuse takes many forms, and often the women we help have not only been the victim of violence, sometimes for lengthy periods, but also of financial abuse and control. Many victims have no access to money because their abuser controls all family assets. Some abusers ensure that bills and utilities are subscribed in the victim’s name, which can leave a woman in a precarious financial situation and reflect negatively on her credit rating, which is vital to her ability to rent new premises. She may have involvement with two or three different courts in seeking to resolve legal problems arising from the violence. She will be expected to navigate criminal court, family court and civil court, and will face serious consequences if she does not navigate successfully.
It is worth noting that the problems and obstacles described here are compounded if the victim is a member of a cultural minority, if she’s aboriginal, has a criminal record or has a disability. She may face greater discrimination because of these factors and she may also have greater difficulty accessing services.
The proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act under Bill 132 will only scratch the surface of what aid a victim trying to leave an abusive relationship will need. It is helpful to allow victims a way to unilaterally end a tenancy early, but it is a hollow right unless it is accompanied by the ability to find alternative affordable housing.
The lack of affordable housing is an obstacle many victims of violence face in trying to establish new lives for themselves and their children. For some victims, it is so difficult to overcome this problem that they give up and return to the abuser. This can set up a cycle that makes it harder for the victim to ever effectively leave, because she may lose the goodwill of service providers if she returns to her abuser, and her truthfulness about the violence and abuse she experienced will be questioned ever after once she returns to her abuser. Landlords, court staff and service providers need training to understand the complexities of gender-based violence and be able to offer more effective help to victims.
Until we have a better pool of housing options available, we need an amendment that empowers the victim of violence and protects her in her home if that is her choice—not just to leave, but to be able to actually stay and have her abuser leave. Not all victims want to leave the joint home. Some of them want the abuser removed. We require a mechanism that will allow the victimized tenant to remain in the property while removing the abuser’s name from the lease. This may be problematic in private rental situations but could be readily introduced to public housing situations, which may be of greater value to the tenants because of rental subsidies.
In the case of the YWCA, only women can be tenants, but their children who achieve the age of majority and who are continuing to live with them while they go to school are added to the lease. For instance, if there were a son or a daughter who was being abusive to their parent, we would not want that child who had been the abuser to be left holding the lease in our housing. I think it’s tricky. It’s not so much of an issue somewhere else where anyone can be a tenant, but it certainly would be a problem for us.
There appears to be nothing in the proposed changes to the act to constrain a landlord from using the fact of receiving a certificate like this from a tenant as a piece of information to later decide that that tenant is a bad risk and to choose not to rent to that person. In a town like Peterborough, where there are a handful of big landlords who control much of the local rental market, this could make it more difficult for women to find housing. The act must include constraints on the use the landlord may make of the information in subsequent dealings with the tenant. We wouldn’t want that to be following her everywhere.
Just because a victim is able to end a lease on short notice does not mean her involvement with that landlord is over. She may end up being the person pursued by the landlord for overdue rent or compensation for damages to the rental unit caused by the abuser. An amendment that at least specified that victims may not be pursued for damage to a unit when they have ended a lease for reasons of violence would help. I understand that that could also be very problematic as well. I think this is one of those cases where, when you try to do good, you just make it more complicated, and it’s dubious whether it will be a huge advantage to the person that you’re trying to help.
As with any legal amendment designed to assist victims of violence, there is the strong possibility of abusers using the process to the detriment of the victims. We have seen, with mandatory charging and dual charging, that laws meant to assist victims can be turned against them.
In addition, there is already a perception in some circles that women make allegations of violence and abuse to get an advantage in Family Court. This amendment to the act may have the unintended consequence of making it even harder for women to obtain Family Court restraining orders as judges and justices of the peace become aware that de facto eviction could be the result of such an order.
The legislation can be used as a sword as well as a shield. For this reason, it will be important to research outcomes of the legislation as part of implementing the law, to determine whether it is actually helping the victims of violence.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much. Questions start with the government. Ms. Malhi.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Thank you so much for being here today and sharing a lot of the things that you talked about and how they may be problematic.
You’ve made a number of suggestions as to how we could make changes to the Residential Tenancies Act portion of all of this, because you feel that it would cause issues going forward. I think the biggest part of this was for us to make sure that we could get people out of unsafe situations. Do you still feel that these proposed changes will help women in need, and how do you think it will be helpful to them?
Ms. Lynn Zimmer: I think it will be able to help some women get out of a place where they’re renting quickly, without having to pay a couple of months’ extra rent. It could speed up her chance to move somewhere else. I just think that the relationship with the landlord could still be really messy, and it could really impair her ability to ever be able to rent a unit again from that same landlord. On the other hand, you could have a compassionate landlord who really cares about this and would go out of their way to help her move to another building. So it’s all about whether the social safety net is actually working and everybody’s participating, or whether, for somebody else, it’s just business.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: I agree with you, because earlier you talked a lot about how we can’t really make sure that everybody’s going to act or react a certain way, so it’s something that could get messy either way.
Are there any suggestions you have in how we could make it better, how we could make it so it’s more compassionate? I don’t think we can really require somebody to be compassionate by any means; we don’t have that control. But in what ways do you think we can make it better?
Ms. Lynn Zimmer: Well, landlords are going to say, “We’re going to lose money if we do this,” so is there an answer for that? If you really want it to work you have to understand the landlord and be able to communicate to them why they should comply.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say you’re out of time with the government. We go to the official opposition.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Thank you very much for appearing here today, Lynn, and for serving our communities.
They have a great program, the START program, which I don’t know if you want to speak a little bit about. We have such limited time, and it’s not only the city of Peterborough. I have a rural riding, so we have a lot of extra challenges, housing being one of them, but you do great work with the START program.
You mentioned some things. No question, we have affordable housing issues. You brought some things up in Peterborough which I didn’t realize. I’ll do two quick questions: Do you think training for landlords would be helpful? And do you, the YWCA, have a list of possible places for people to rent who are fleeing from violence?
Ms. Lynn Zimmer: We’ve got our own housing, so very often women can move straight into that. We work with other social housing providers.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Yes, that’s what I mean.
Ms. Lynn Zimmer: I forget the earlier part of the question, though.
Ms. Laurie Scott: The training for landlords. Do you think that’s helpful?
Ms. Lynn Zimmer: No, I don’t think we can really train them. I think what would be handy is a one-page information piece that would spell out why this is good business for landlords. Why is it good for them to not be having violence and abuse happening in their building? What are the chances they’ll have if they get abusers out or disrupt that pattern? Is there some financial advantage for them in terms of their property costs and all that sort of thing? Actually make the economic argument to landlords about why this is in their interests, and why having a peaceful building is something that they should care about.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Okay. I guess that’s it. Thanks, Lynn.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): To the third party. Ms. Sattler, you have the last two minutes.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you very much for the presentation. I think you made an excellent point about the lack of financial control that many women experience when they are in situations of domestic violence and the abuser controls access to the bank account and everything else you mentioned, not having a credit rating.
Even if a woman has a supportive landlord and is able to break the lease in the 28 days’ notice, she’s not able to afford the first and last month at a new place. She’s not able to afford the moving costs, and just setting up a new housing situation.
Do you think that some kind of model of a housing stability bank or some kind of fund should be created to allow women and anyone who’s experiencing abuse, who’s in a situation like this, who needs to leave their rental housing because of sexual violence or domestic violence—should there be some kind of access to funding to enable that move to occur?
Ms. Lynn Zimmer: I think that would be quite helpful. I know that in our community there is an emergency fund and the start-up fund associated with Ontario Works, but there could be somebody who is of very low income but not on Ontario Works. Having funding available for that kind of one-time emergency situation would be very helpful.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Have you dealt with women who have been forced to stay in a residential housing situation with their abuser because they could not afford the costs involved in moving from the housing?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Ms. Sattler, I’m sorry to say you’ve used up your time.
Ms. Lynn Zimmer: Probably.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): That was a quick answer. Thank you very much for your presentation.
Ms. Lynn Zimmer: Thank you.
Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Our next presentation, then, is from the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre. Sonya Vellenga?
Ms. Vellenga, as you have seen, you have up to 10 minutes to present, followed by questions by the parties. If you would introduce yourself for Hansard.
Ms. Sonya Vellenga: Thank you. I’m Sonya Vellenga with the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre. I just want to reflect on the last question that was asked of Lynn in terms of individuals who may have been reflected in the changes of the act. We certainly have had three individuals in the last four months who have—it wasn’t a co-living environment. It was some sexual violence and harassment from the maintenance individuals, which was not believed by the landlords. Larger apartment buildings which have a number of people working in the building—it’s not just the landlord; there are maintenance individuals within that.
For those individuals, one was able to have their locks changed so that the maintenance person would not have access to their apartment. Two others identified that there was no other place to go. Really, they needed to stay there, because of the housing shortages.
I also wanted to reflect on Louise, Ruth and Hilary from Trent University, and some of their comments, specifically their comments around choice for survivors and how an unanticipated consequence of mandatory reporting requirements could negatively impact on survivors.
The idea of a campus climate survey: A well-written, tight provincial requirement would give people the choice of reflecting their experiences in a private way that does not put them in the seat of mandatory reporting. I think if we think about the reporting statistics to police, they’re very, very low. I would anticipate that the reporting statistics for colleges and universities would be very, very low for some of the very same reasons that we experience low reporting to the police. It’s that lack of choice, and the unanticipated consequences of those reporting requirements. I wanted to reflect that.
Our centre is physically located in Peterborough. We provide crisis support across four counties, and also client services here in Peterborough. A large part of our work also includes education, community engagement, raising awareness and addressing systemic and structural issues.
We’ve recently completed a research report, and we were able to receive information from over 200 people, including front-line people and survivors. There were three main themes that came out of that research—and you know this, from listening to individuals:
—The complexity of victimization, connected to generational and lateral cycles of violence, came through really large;
—Our culture today is really influenced by social media and the digital world, and there’s nothing in the legislation that speaks to the digital world, and that is increasingly becoming a problem; and
—Disclosure of sexual violence occurs when there are trusting relationships in place, and that speaks back to the mandatory reporting as well, that that reporting is not happening within a trusting relationship. The research is quite strong there in terms of disclosure. Even disclosure for children typically occurs within a trusting relationship; it does not easily come to a stranger.
Front-line staff who work with marginalized youth, health services, social services, aboriginal women and girls, and developmental services are identifying some of the intersections. They are seeing clients who are engaged in grooming and sex work, for example, in exchange for shelter and drugs and, in effect, maybe possibly being recruited or trafficked into other larger city centres. There’s nothing in the current legislation that speaks to that. In our region, we do not have identified exit strategies for young people facing the possibility of being humanly trafficked.
There are other areas of Bill 132 where we anticipate some impact, and I just noted a few here.
With increased public awareness about sexual violence and harassment through Bill 132, there may be an increase in reporting to police services of incidents, and resources will need to be made available, specifically some trauma-informed training and other training to ensure a professional, relevant and compassionate response. That’s really important and that has been highlighted in other projects and spoken about in the Philadelphia model and in the second-party reporting model.
There’s an increased recognition that collaborative hubs will help mitigate the experiences of individuals who move from system to system in order to receive support. Certainly, we are working with our shelter systems in the four counties to look at collaborative models, to look at how we can continue to build and maintain the START model, which has received some good support and good feedback from service users of the model. So we anticipate that additional resources and staffing supports are needed for these models in order to maintain these models.
In our rural areas of the region, there’s acknowledgement that transportation remains a distinct and difficult challenge to overcome, and so there’s a need for the government to support municipal infrastructure and also a recognition that virtual responses may need support and resources.
I mentioned it earlier, but just to reinforce, for our universities and colleges, this bill will put increased demands on our post-secondary system. While we support the changes and intent behind Bill 132, we also really want to highlight that additional resources will be necessary for Trent and Fleming locally in terms of being able to maintain the prevention, response and training supports required. There has been a lot of work over the past year on behalf of both the college and university here locally, and I want to share that they’ve done a lot of work and we’ve had a lot of conversations.
Lynn from the YWCA spoke to the need for housing support. We’re certainly an area that is struggling to meet our current housing needs, and that’s a reality that needs to be understood.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, we see that there’s opportunity for provincial training initiatives, but we also see that that will place increased demand in terms of resources and consultation from centres such as ours.
Those are my talking points. Thank you. That’s it.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much. We have about eight minutes to share, and we’ll start with the official opposition. Ms. Scott.
Ms. Laurie Scott: I want to say that Sonya from the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre had been outstanding assistance as we travelled the province on the select committee, helping with human trafficking issues, which I’ve been working up. They did a report, Lessons from Behind the Door, which Sonya mentioned we should all get a copy of.
I have a limited time, so here it goes: You mentioned the START model and you touched upon the community hub models that you have in our rural areas. Could you speak a little bit about those programs? Basically, you’re going to need some more assistance to continue those programs that go forward. I don’t know if you want to explain a little bit about those programs that you have here, because they help a lot of our communities in Peterborough and Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock and Northumberland to a point of being, I think, a tremendous example for the province.
Ms. Sonya Vellenga: Well, in the four regions—Haliburton, the city of Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough and Northumberland—there is a shelter system in each of those regions. If anybody has a cottage in the Haliburton area and is travelling from Tory Hill into Haliburton town, that is not a little drive. That’s sort of like going from Oshawa to downtown Toronto without transportation.
The idea behind a hub model—and I’m going to also say a virtual hub model—is that some of those transportation barriers can be addressed through a one-stop strategy where they’re not making an appointment with Ontario Works and housing and the shelter and a lawyer and a sexual assault centre on different days, different locations, different times. So, in essence, that’s the thinking behind a collaborative hub.
Ms. Laurie Scott: And you’d like to see that kind of—in Bill 132, if we could delve into the community hub models, they are quite effective.
Ms. Sonya Vellenga: Certainly, yes.
Ms. Laurie Scott: They’re also economically good. It makes sense.
Ms. Sonya Vellenga: Yes, and Lynn from the YWCA certainly did speak to the economic challenges. The idea behind the hub is to help mitigate some of that, but there will be the need to maintain resources in order for this to occur.
I know that trafficking is an area that is of interest to this committee. Certainly, while we’re largely—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say that you’re out of time with this questioner.
We’ll go to the next. Ms. Sattler?
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Yes. Thank you very much for your presentation and for being with us today.
You began your presentation by talking about two issues: first, that Bill 132 does not refer to the digital world and the reality that much sexual violence is initiated through the Internet, and also that disclosure most commonly occurs within trusting relationships, which is the reality that you know from the work that you do.
Do you have some specific recommendations for this committee as to how and where these two issues could be reflected in Bill 132? As you reviewed the legislation, did you see opportunities to integrate references to the digital world and also that whole issue around disclosure and trusting relationships?
Ms. Sonya Vellenga: That’s a big question. I would say that the Child and Family Services Act does speak to some of the online challenges, but I don’t think it’s in enforcement yet. I think there’s some notation in that act that references the digital world. I did not study other legislative acts to understand where that could be addressed, but I am certainly able to say confidently that that is an issue that high schools and junior schools—grades 7 and 8—are facing. In my hand-out here I note some of the work that we’re doing with the OHL. I think yesterday the NHL noted that they were doing some work, and some of this reflects digital violence: the exchange of information, not freely, without choice, that puts young people—young boys and young girls—at risk. So I do think that there might be opportunity for some additional work around digital violence.
Then your other question was related to—
Ms. Peggy Sattler: The trusting relationships. But just on the digital violence: perhaps going through with a fine-tooth comb and looking at the definitions?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say, MPP, you’re out of time. We go to the government: Ms. Malhi.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Thank you so much for being here and for all of the important work that you do to support women in need.
I wanted to talk to you a little bit about the amendment in regard to not having that two-year limitation to report for survivors. Now, this is something that’s going to give them more time, because we know that not all survivors are ready to report as soon as they get out of this relationship or this situation. In what way would it help some of the people who have come to you for help in the past?
Ms. Sonya Vellenga: My understanding of the limitations is that it’s limitations around reporting for the purposes of criminal injuries compensation and not necessarily related to the criminal code.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: I think that what we’ve done is we’ve taken away the two years in the reporting. We want to see that they have that time to go back if they feel that they need to report after the fact.
Ms. Sonya Vellenga: So I’ll answer it in this way: I’ve been at the centre for three years, and we’re called the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre. I certainly began my work at the centre thinking that most of our clients would be clients who had experienced recent sexual violence and harassment. I was very surprised to learn that over 75% of our clients had experienced historical sexual abuse, sexual assault, and spent years not telling anybody. There would be something either in the news or something in their personal family life or increased safety for themselves that they now felt able to disclose this experience—more than 20 years. In our study we had somebody who was in her 70s and had never reported it. Her first report was to us in this research study.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much. I think you have 10 seconds.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Thank you for coming.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much for your presentation today.
Ms. Sonya Vellenga: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Our next presenters, then: Fleming College, Kristi Kerford. As you’ve observed, you have up to 10 minutes to present and that will be followed by questions, and if you’d introduce yourself for Hansard.
Ms. Kristi Kerford: Hi. Thanks for the opportunity to be here today. I’m Kristi Kerford and I’m the associate vice-president, student services, at Fleming. I was going to frame my remarks around what I like, the impact on us and then some broad recommendations.
The “what I like” is very general but I would say I just like that the attention is being paid to the issue, so there’s good work being done there. I also like the collaborative provincial approach to the conversation. Those are broad and short.
When I think of the impact on us, and by “us” I mean Fleming College and our role as administrators and educators in post-secondary, I would say the impact started before the bill came into existence. It started when the media and the government began to really put an emphasis on this, and so it’s been more than a year that we’ve been feeling an impact that I think will continue as the bill moves forward.
First and foremost is around policy development and implementation. As you may or may not know, colleges put policies in place last April 1 and so we are in a good position with what’s noted in the bill.
The second piece is around the education and awareness and rolling out the policy and getting people on board. We’ve been trying to take a very collaborative approach, so working with our local community agencies, including Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, and working with our student governments to get the word out. It’s beyond just students; it’s also to employees, because the policy is broadly to everyone at the college.
We were able to tap into something that’s called the Women’s Campus Safety Grant, which is an MTCU fund, to fund a short-term contract. I just flag this because that allowed us to really get a jumpstart on our training and education and awareness. It’s a one-time opportunity but it’s a short-term opportunity and that has now finished up. But I think it’s important to note that there are funding pockets or envelopes that could be enlarged or paid attention to in terms of our continuing to work in this area. So ongoing, that will be an area where we would need more funds.
The next place where we have had impact is responding to disclosures and incidents. As was not a surprise, with increased awareness we had increased disclosures. We describe this as good news, bad news—good news that they’re comfortable to come forward; bad news that it’s happening at all. We’re seeing increases, not just under the sexual assault and sexual violence policy, but increases under current harassment and discrimination policies. It’s across the board and it’s quite wide-ranging. Again, a bit of good news, bad news.
The key thing here to flag is that we have, in these instances, policies and procedures to receive disclosures, case-manage them, investigate as necessary and then to address the issue. But the cases that are coming forward are more and more complex and have more nuances to them, and so we need to be really careful that the on-campus staff has the adequate training so that they can deal with these cases appropriately. That’s an area where we’ve been putting a lot of efforts; again, a lot of collaboration with community partners.
This rolls right into my fourth point under this, about what is the college’s role. I think what I’m getting at here is we’re trying to remember first and foremost that we’re an educational institution but that these incidents happen within our walls, and in some cases students are living on our campuses. We’re not police departments. We’re not sexual assault centres. We need to work collaboratively with those people. We need to have the adequate training so that we can meet the needs of the students, but we still need to be really clear on our scope so that we’re not trying to do more than we should actually be doing in terms of our role. But it’s really complex, and so as this continues to move forward I think that will be a key discussion to be having about the role of the post-secondary institution as it relates to sexual assault and sexual violence.
I’ll switch gears and just talk broadly about recommendations and suggestions. None of these are going to come as a surprise. I’ve been hearing themes from other speakers. First and foremost are going to be funding and resources to support the work that needs to be done, whether that’s programs, staffing or training, but recognizing what the fallout is. The more we raise awareness, the more people will feel comfortable to disclose and the more they’re going to need supports. In the cases of post-secondary institutions, we often need to act, in terms of whether it’s supports for the survivor or sanctions for the person who has been accused, before the police investigation is happening. There are some parallel processes that are happening at the same time in post-secondary.
I also wanted to address the reporting piece. We do have mandatory reporting built into our policies, but what we have defined the mandatory reporting as is simply that an incident occurred. If the survivor does not want to disclose their name or any details, then it’s just a report that an incident happened, with no accompanying details. If it was felt that it was a public safety concern, then we would need to go back and revisit it to determine if there needed to be more action. That’s how we’ve tried to straddle that, but I’ll be really honest: It’s challenging. I do think there’s a bit of a dissonance between mandatory reporting and the idea of the survivor having the final say in what’s going to happen. We’re trying to manage that. There are also some nuances because there are some duty-to-report pieces in our violence prevention policies and our harassment/discrimination policies. Where those things intersect, I think we need to be really careful.
Lastly, on what might be considered a positive note, I would really like to put a plug in for the idea of collaboration. I’ve heard people talk about the hub model—and we’re certainly a big proponent of that as well—drawing on our community resources and experts to try to make us a well-functioning team, as opposed to trying to do it all on our own. We want to be clear on our scope and where our expertise is, but it is important to note that even collaboration takes resources. It does take time and energy to make those things work well.
I think those are my main speaking points. Again, thanks for the opportunity.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much. We have about seven minutes left, divided between the three parties. We start with Ms. Sattler.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you very much. I do want to recognize the work of the college sector in stepping up to the plate in developing a template policy that was endorsed by all colleges in the province.
A question I have: The legislation in Bill 132 refers to the development of regulations governing the specific elements that are to be included in the policy, the provision of training and how to publicize and promote the policies on campus. In this collaboration that you have engaged in with the ministry, is it your feeling that what Colleges Ontario has developed and what colleges like Fleming are doing will be reflected in the regulations? Do you have any concern that these regulations will not reflect what’s already under way in the sector?
Ms. Kristi Kerford: If I’m understanding, what I would say is, from what I see so far, I’m feeling that it will be in line with what we’re doing. But certainly, in reading the bill, there’s a lot of room for interpretation, so I can’t say definitively. The line where they talk about reporting numbers of incidents, for example, that’s a line where it’s like there’s a conversation is happening but I don’t know where it’s going to land. It’s the same when they talk about provisions for training. That’s fairly broad.
Loosely speaking, I’m feeling like we are aspiring to meet those regulations, but depending on if they were to be more specific, I don’t know if we would be able to.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: There was the template developed and then the colleges have customized it with input from their own stakeholders, but is there a lot of commonality in the way that colleges are approaching this? Do you consult with your counterparts at other colleges?
Ms. Kristi Kerford: Yes. It’s a conversation at every provincial table right now, so there is a lot of consultation. I think what happens is that the size of an institution will often determine what resources they already have in place, say, in regard to student rights and responsibilities. Therefore, they may be in a better position to have resources to ramp up on this issue than a smaller college—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say that you’re out of time with this questioner. We go to the government: Ms. Malhi.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Thank you for being here. It has been great to listen to you talk about the template and what the colleges have done, as well as talk about shared resources and working with all of your local stakeholders like the assault centre, because it is important that we collaborate.
But going along that line, we also want to talk about the requirement of Bill 132 to have a stand-alone policy. What do you see the importance of the stand-alone policy for individual colleges to be, from your perspective with your college?
Ms. Kristi Kerford: It’s a really good question. I think it did two things for Fleming College. This is just my opinion. I would say, first and foremost, it really gave a statement about the importance of the issue, because it was already embedded in a lot of other policies. It wasn’t that it wasn’t there and it wasn’t being dealt with, but by giving it its own policy, it ups the attention and the importance that the institution and the government put behind it.
The other thing is that it gave us a vehicle to do more awareness, because with all new policies, you naturally have that awareness train that goes with it. So it then provided a vehicle.
I would say that it wasn’t that the work wasn’t happening, but now it’s happening in a more concerted, deliberate manner.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Any other questions? Ms. McGarry.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: In terms of going forward, to better refine and do some more work regarding the reporting statistics, it’s one thing that I think we will be looking at to define further. I’m wondering if you or others would be willing to step forward to talk about the reporting structure and what’s going to work for the universities and the campuses.
Ms. Kristi Kerford: Absolutely. I know that there is a committee which is meeting and talking about that right now. I believe it’s through Colleges Ontario, but don’t quote me on that. I guess, actually, you will be quoting me on that, so never mind that.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Yes, we will.
Ms. Kristi Kerford: But definitely, because there is kind of an array of opinions as to both what is being done and what should be done, and then what is the purpose of the data collection and the value, because that helps.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Yes, and how to put it in context. I sat on the select committee. We had a number of different delegations in from colleges and universities, and we could see the value of public reporting. But out of context, what is that going to do to folks who are looking at it? You know, this university versus that one has higher reporting, but it may be—
Ms. Kristi Kerford: What’s the context?
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Exactly. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Okay. Thank you very much. We go to the official opposition: Mr. Yakabuski.
Mr. John Yakabuski: Thank you very much for coming today to speak to us. I thank you and all witnesses who have joined us today.
I always try that “don’t quote me on this,” and it never works in Hansard either. So you’re not the first. I’ve been fooled by it many times.
Ms. Kristi Kerford: Yes. I’ve learned my lesson.
Mr. John Yakabuski: This is going to be pretty general, because you’ve talked about the rights and responsibilities, and you’ve talked about awareness and reporting.
I was in the college environment 40 years ago. I don’t ever remember seeing signage posted, anything about what your rights and responsibilities are, where people can go who have been victims of sexual violence or harassment, or any of the things we’re talking about here in Bill 132.
It’s 40 years later, and I don’t spend a lot of time on campuses—trust me—but whenever I have been for a meeting or anything, you’d be hard-pressed not to see an awful lot of information, to the extent that you are being inundated with warnings to those who think that this is a place where you can behave badly, and comforting messages to those who feel that they may have been victimized.
Here we are today, with you here before this committee, 40 years later—not you 40 years later, but in my mind—and I’ve got to believe that we’ve made some progress. I’ve got to believe that the student of today has grown up in an environment where, from early on, they understand that things that might have been considered to be okay at one time just are not. They never were, and now we’ve become more open about making it clear that they’re not.
We get to a university or a college environment, and we still have these concerns. Where have we failed? How have we failed? Beyond this bill, what do we need to do to change an attitude that seems almost—I don’t want to say “impossible,” but for some people, clearly there is an absolute resistance to changing what they think is an okay way to behave themselves. Beyond this bill, and this bill is specific and I appreciate that most of the deputants today have spoken favourably about the bill—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Mr. Yakabuski, I’m sorry to say that you have used up your time.
Ms. Laurie Scott: What were you doing? Making a speech?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I know the committee is shocked, as am I, but indeed he has.
Mr. John Yakabuski: Send me an email.
Ms. Kristi Kerford: Okay.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much for your presentation today. Our next presentation—
Mr. John Yakabuski: That might have been my last chance to speak to a committee.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): It may well have been.
Ontario Network of Victim Service Providers Victim Services Peterborough and Northumberland
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): The next presentation is from the Ontario Network of Victim Service Providers, Peterborough and Northumberland: Emily Poulin. Ms. Poulin, good afternoon. You have up to 10 minutes to present. The time that is left after that will be shared amongst the parties for questions. Please introduce yourself for Hansard.
Ms. Emily Poulin: Good afternoon. Thank you for the opportunity to be here today. As was mentioned, my name is Emily Poulin and I am the executive director of Victim Services of Peterborough and Northumberland. Originally founded in 1995 as Peterborough Kawartha VCARs, we expanded in 2001 and evolved into our current form.
As front-line victim assistance providers, we primarily offer:
—24/7 on-scene early crisis intervention and practical assistance;
—needs assessment and development of a personalized referral form or service plan;
—safety planning and court support;
—support for victims as they navigate the criminal injuries compensation process;
—referrals to counselling and relevant community and government support services, enhanced support, and follow-up.
We also support victims in our community by delivering the Victim Quick Response Program, which is funded by the victims and vulnerable persons division of the Ministry of the Attorney General. This allows us to provide timely assistance to eligible victims of the most violent crimes. The program’s objectives are to provide short-term assistance to victims in the immediate aftermath of violent crimes, lessen the impact of violent crime through immediate support services to victims and increase the immediate safety of victims of violent crime, and help to prevent re-victimization.
To do this work, our professional staff team of two full-time workers is supported by a robust network of more than 30 individual trained volunteers who dedicate their time to helping those at their most vulnerable: those suffering the aftermath of a crime such as a sexual assault or domestic violence.
I am also a board member of the Ontario Network of Victim Service Providers, or ONVSP, the largest representative organization for victim service providers in Ontario. Today I am speaking on behalf of both organizations and I am proud to be here to express our strong support for Bill 132. In particular, two areas of primary importance to us are schedules 1 and 2 of the proposed act.
Schedule 1, as you know, expands access to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board process to victims of sexual or domestic violence. This is a vitally important move that will allow for victims to engage in the process of healing and compensation for historical crimes. As a result, the ONVSP strongly supports this schedule.
Schedule 2 amends the Limitations Act to allow for victims to bring forth civil claims against their abusers at any time. This is important as historically the very nature of sexual assault or violence could and did suppress claims to the point that limitations would then be in place. This act removes that barrier, and we welcome that change.
Other elements within the act, such as changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, mandatory reporting of sexual violence at post-secondary campuses, and survivor-centred supports, are positive additions that also have the strong support of the ONVSP.
That being said, while we are 100% behind this legislation, both in content and objectives, we do believe that some elements of the act will have the corresponding effect of making some elements of victim services more complex from a client perspective. For example, in cases of historical abuse or sexual assault, client needs tend to be more nuanced than in more current cases. Years of psychological pressure, suppressed hurt, pain and repression, when taken together, can and do result in individuals with more complex needs.
To properly support these types of individuals, we have found it necessary to adopt more of a case-management approach than we would use for a more recent assault. Without this added layer of support, too many people drop out of the court process before justice can come to its rightful conclusion. As a result, while we have no specific proposed revisions to this legislation, we would simply encourage the provincial government to work with stakeholders such as ourselves to make sure that victim service client offerings remain effective and fit within the spirit and intentions of this important bill.
With that, I’d like to thank you for your time and I’m happy to take any questions you might have.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much. That gives us about three minutes per party. We’ll start with the government. Ms. Malhi?
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Thank you so much for being here today. What challenges do the victims your members work with currently experience and how will the changes proposed in this bill improve their experiences?
Ms. Emily Poulin: It helps, as I said, in terms of the criminal injuries compensation piece and removing the limitations to reporting. But as I’ve said, it’s great for the victims and it also creates more work, I guess, for an organization like ours, being kind of the front end—we’re located in the police detachments and so we’re usually one of the first people to respond. If somebody were to come in and report a crime to the police, generally that’s when we’re brought in, in the immediate aftermath. We’re finding that when we’re dealing with these complex cases of historical abuse, it’s requiring more of a case-management approach, whereas typically we’re more of a short-term emotional support and referral.
We would refer to a local sexual assault centre, women’s resource centres, or we would go through the QRP for longer-term supports in counselling and what not. So it’s that case management piece that is becoming kind of an extra—I don’t know what the right word would be, because I don’t want to call it a burden, because it’s not. It’s just a different approach that we have to take, and only being two front-line staff members, it makes it rather difficult.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: You talked about the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act. Now, with the limitations being removed, how do you think this will change the experience? I know you said it’s going to be helpful because there’s no more limitation, but how do you think it’s going to make it easier for victims?
Ms. Emily Poulin: It’s going to make it easier in terms of removing the barrier. Time shouldn’t be a barrier for people. Everybody experiences things in their own way, everybody copes in their own way. To say, “Well, I’m sorry that this happened to you, but you only have so much time to deal with it,” is not a great approach, so removing those barriers in general and allowing people to come forward and express themselves.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m afraid you’ve used your three minutes. We’ll go on to the official opposition. Ms. Scott?
Ms. Laurie Scott: I’ll give you a break and I’ll ask you a question here for Mr. Yakabuski. Thank you very much for appearing and thank you for the work you do in our communities.
You mentioned you only have a certain amount of staff, a lot of volunteers and a lot of paperwork. We’re very happy with Bill 132 removing the time restrictions. Do you have anything that you could tell us specifically on how we can streamline the system for victims, how we can make it easier for victims that maybe—not that you’ve had to read all of Bill 132—we could bring forward in an amendment?
Ms. Emily Poulin: I would need some time with that—
Ms. Laurie Scott: That’s okay. You can.
Ms. Emily Poulin: —so if possible, I could get back to you.
Ms. Laurie Scott: But there are ways, right? Yes, for sure you can get back to us, absolutely. We want more victim supports.
You mentioned, I think, in your remarks about budget constraints. You only have so much budget to do so many things. Can you just elaborate? Pretend we’re the finance committee, say. Just elaborate what you’d like to see. How many victims—if that’s easy for you—would you see per year? I know everything’s different, but is there funding attached to it, a number that it usually costs?
Ms. Emily Poulin: No. Our budget doesn’t necessarily affect the number of victims that we will serve. We will serve people regardless. We serve anybody and everybody who comes through our doors.
It’s difficult to say. I think that if you were to ask anybody in the community, any social service organization—
Ms. Laurie Scott: Yes, always more money.
Ms. Emily Poulin: —budgetary needs would be a primary concern for most people.
Ms. Laurie Scott: So if you had more budget, you could do more, which we all agree—
Ms. Emily Poulin: Absolutely.
Ms. Laurie Scott: What would be a priority, say, out of that?
Ms. Emily Poulin: For me personally, at victim services?
Ms. Laurie Scott: Yes.
Ms. Emily Poulin: A priority, if we were to see a larger budget, would be staffing, for sure.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Yes, okay. Volunteers can only do so much.
Ms. Emily Poulin: Volunteers can only do so much. Based on our standards—our standards are set by the ministry. We’ve been working, over the past couple of years, going through modernization, which has been challenging. But we are certainly working with a government which is open to all of these changes, so it has been very positive.
Yes, I would say that staffing would be a challenge, because with our current budget, it only allows me to have so many staff members. As a 24/7 operation, it makes it difficult.
Ms. Laurie Scott: So you do—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say, Ms. Scott, that you are out of time.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Oh, dear.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Now we’ll go on to the third party. Ms. Sattler.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you very much for coming here today and for your presentation. I was really interested in your comment about the complexity of needs when there are cases of historic abuse that are reported, and the different demands that that creates for agencies like yours in helping people through the process.
Some of the research that I read, when Bill 132 was first debated in the Legislature, was around the adequacy of the maximum award available through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board—$25,000 maximum. In cases of historic abuse, the psychological trauma may be profound, so access to a psychologist and perhaps other specialized services may be greater.
Do you have any comments or reflections on that? Should we be looking at increasing that maximum award that is available through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, given this new access for people who have experienced historic abuse to come forward to pursue claims?
Ms. Emily Poulin: Yes, if we’re talking specifically historical cases. Again, we do provide a program, the Victim Quick Response Program, but that doesn’t allow us to help victims who have been victimized before 2007. So, yes, while there are certain supports, limited supports, put into place for victims of recent assaults, you’re right: Generally, it’s more difficult for people to receive those supports. It’s not to say that we don’t have any wonderful supports in the community. Sonya was saying that she was shocked to find that 75% of the people who walk through their doors were historical cases.
It’s a difficult question for me to answer because, yes, in general, more funding is always helpful across the board, in many instances.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Okay.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Okay. Thank you very much. Thank you for your presentation today.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Our next presenter, then, is from Egale Canada: Kathleen Pye. Ms. Pye, you have up to 10 minutes to present. The time that’s left after that will be divided amongst the parties for questions. If you would introduce yourself for Hansard; please proceed.
Ms. Kathleen Pye: Sure. Thank you all for having me here. My name is Kathleen Pye. I’m the researcher and policy analyst at Egale. Just to give you a quick overview of Egale, in case you’re unaware of who we are, we’re Canada’s only national LGBTQ human rights charity, seeking to advance the equitable inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and two-spirit people through research, education and community engagement. All the work that we do is grounded in anti-racist and anti-oppressive practice, which obviously is very much linked into what we’re talking about today. We recognize that the production of knowledge is always intimately connected to power, privilege and oppression.
Just to speak to some of the national projects that we currently work on, we’re involved in Safer and Accepting Schools, where we provide training for peers, teachers and educators across the country, as well as LGBT youth suicide prevention. We’ve hosted two national summits, where we brought together an interdisciplinary group of stakeholders within this issue, as well as providing expert consultation and policy review. One of the most important pieces of what we do is Egale Youth OUTreach. We work with LGBT youth who are experiencing homelessness, who, unfortunately, make up about 20% of youth who are experiencing homelessness currently. They’re very much overrepresented in the population. We provide counselling, crisis shelter support, mental health support and a number of other things. Just as a statistic, 45% of the clients we see are transgender or gender variant.
One of the things that we really wanted to speak to today, in consideration of Bill 132, is to highlight the alarming prevalence of sexual violence and domestic and intimate partner violence among LGBT communities, and specifically within trans and two-spirit communities, really emphasizing the importance of including gender identity and expression as reasons individuals may be targeted in this way. We also wanted to highlight the increased risk among intersecting identities, specifically for trans women of colour as well as two-spirit women, to highlight the disproportionate ways LGBT communities are impacted by sexual violence due to systemic oppression and discrimination. We really wanted to highlight the need for inclusivity training among first responders and helping professionals to allow for the appropriate support of individuals who are experiencing or have experienced sexual violence and domestic and intimate partner violence. We wanted to highlight the need for visibility and expanded access to support services for survivors from LGBT communities, and we wanted to really highlight the importance of ensuring that LGBT, anti-racist and anti-oppressive inclusion is within policies and procedures which speak to sexual violence, as well as domestic and intimate partner violence prevention and intervention.
Just to give you a little bit of background in terms of prevalence and when I talk about the alarming rates and how the LGBT community is disproportionately affected, we know that on campus LGBTQ students experience the most violent forms of sexual violence of anyone who is a survivor. We also know that nearly 50% of same-sex relationships involve domestic and intimate partner violence, but unfortunately, these are often forgotten about or not taken as seriously. We know that amongst individuals who experience domestic and intimate partner violence, there is a higher degree of bisexual women. We also know that men in same-sex relationships experience the same amount of domestic and intimate partner violence as heterosexual women and three times more than heterosexual men. In terms of the workplace, we know that 47% of LGB workers will experience some sort of harassment and violence as a result of their sexual orientation.
Again, to highlight the needs for specific representation of trans and two-spirit communities, we know that trans and gender-diverse populations experience more campus-based violence than anyone. We know that nearly 20% of trans and gender-diverse students will experience domestic and intimate partner violence. Unfortunately, as a result of being trans, generally they will experience more violence and discrimination within relationships and will experience more police violence when going to report. We also know that 90% of trans and gender-diverse employees will experience harassment and violence in the workplace, directly as a result of their gender identity and expression.
When there are multiple oppressions—again, speaking to trans women of colour or two-spirit women—we know that their rates increase. For trans women of colour, for young people who are experiencing intimate partner violence, and for aboriginal women, their risk is 2.6 times higher in terms of violence within an intimate relationship.
Again, we know violence is increased when we think about different abilities. For example, men who are experiencing domestic violence and who are HIV-positive are 50% more likely to experience violence in a relationship.
Unfortunately, because of the discrimination, the stigmatization, individuals from LGBT communities have disproportionately higher rates of violence in comparison to their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. These experiences are motivated by intolerance, fear and hatred of a person’s diversity in attraction and/or their gender identity in every social context: homes, schools, communities, religious and spiritual centres, public spaces and health institutions.
We also know that LGBT survivors are less likely to report incidents to the authorities, or access shelters and support services, than their cisgender and heterosexual counterparts. These barriers to help-seeking stem from having a lack of appropriate agencies, from stigmatization that a lot of people may experience when they go to seek support, and, really, from limited understanding of how violence affects LGBT communities.
We also know that LGBT employees are less likely to report incidents of workplace harassment and violence, due to a lack of policies and procedures, or knowledge of that, and, as a result, fear of potentially losing their job.
As a result, we have some recommendations, which I’ll break down into two sections, that we feel could really help to increase individuals who come forward, in terms of being able to speak about their experiences, as well as to deal with the disproportionate rates of sexual violence and intimate partner violence among LGBT communities.
The first is capacity building, providing LGBT and ARAO—anti-racist and anti-oppressive—specific training for professionals involved in sexual violence prevention and intervention with respect to domestic and intimate partner violence, specifically around LGBT identities and needs.
To speak to this a little bit further, we know that response services under-recognize those outside of cisgender and heterosexual relationships. As a result, lesbian and bisexual women, trans women and two-spirit women are often not reporting sexual violence, or are facing discrimination and further trauma as a result of coming forward.
Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia on the part of service providers may result in a denial of access to service, victim blaming and the devaluing of legitimate violence, as well as denial of access to support services such as anti-violence programs and shelters. Such help-seeking barriers increase the risk to safety, and often make trauma worse.
Discrimination within help-seeking is even more difficult for trans survivors of sexual violence and intimate partner violence, who are often denied access to support services or are denied police support, as a result of their birth-assigned sex or perceived birth-assigned sex rather than their gender identity.
Professionals working in anti-violence efforts, including those who identify as LGB, require specialized transgender, gender-variant, two-spirit, and anti-racist and anti-oppressive training to provide sensitive care that meets individual needs and mitigates risk. Training should also be open to a spectrum of gender identity categories beyond gender identity, such as gender-queer, gender-fluid etc.
With incidents involving intimate partner violence, mis-arrest, which is defined as mistaken arrest of the survivor and not the abusive partner, is a common reality for LGBT communities. Training that pertains to same-sex, same-gender and transgender or gender-variant intimate partner violence is required, to increase awareness of these situations and improve support for these demographics. Training related to gender identity expression and sexual orientation should be provided to all workplace administration and new employees, as well as ongoing refresher training.
We have to remember that all of these challenges are made even worse when we think about small communities and rural communities, which don’t have access to various LGBT organizations or individuals who would feel comfortable speaking out.
The second piece would be increased visibility and support. To heighten the visibility of LGBT communities, specifically trans women of colour and two-spirit women—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Ms. Pye, I’m sorry to say you’ve run out of time.
Ms. Kathleen Pye: That’s okay.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): With the five minutes that are remaining, we go to the official opposition. Ms. Scott?
Ms. Laurie Scott: Thank you very much for appearing today. If you just have a couple of minutes left, I do not mind if you want to finish your presentation.
Ms. Kathleen Pye: Unless you had a specific question, I don’t mind running through a bit more.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Yes, go ahead.
Ms. Kathleen Pye: Great, thank you. Just to highlight quickly: What we really need to see is increased visibility, again, of these specific populations that often get ignored but have the increased risk of violence, specifically trans women, when we talk about, again, cisnormativity, as well as trauma, mis-arrests and all of these different types of things, in addition to two-spirit women, where we need to understand colonialism. We have to understand the historic abuse that has gone on, as well as providing cultural support.
Just to move forward, what we really want to make sure of is that we have policies and procedures that really speak to these issues—again, it’s one thing to have a policy; it’s another thing to implement it—so to really make sure that every policy pushes forward that we need to have inclusion and diversity so that we’re really representing LGBT populations properly.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Okay. Ms. Scott.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Okay, thank you. Is there something specific in Bill 132 that you would like to see? If you don’t have the amendment right in your head, you can send it to us later.
Ms. Kathleen Pye: I think one of the things that really stands out for us is, while we talk about the issue of people being targeted for their sexuality, we really have to add gender identity as well, because we know that sexual violence is the result of oppression and power. While the bill really speaks to people being targeted as a result of their sexuality, we know that people who are gender-diverse are often targeted even more as a result of being gender-variant. I think that piece really needs to be elevated. It really wasn’t represented, and it’s something that’s really important, knowing how much individuals are targeted.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you, Ms. Scott. In the minutes remaining, Ms. Sattler, you can ask a question, and I’ll give the government the rest of that time.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you very much for your presentation and also the great data and the references that you have provided here.
My take-away from your presentation is, in addition to definitions of sexual violence that we should look at throughout this bill to ensure that the experiences of LGBT people are reflected, my primary take-away is in the implementation of the bill and ensuring that all of the support agencies that would be involved as this bill becomes law have the training to recognize the specialized needs of this population. Is that right? Am I right in understanding your presentation that way?
Ms. Kathleen Pye: Absolutely. Again, within the bill specifically, to make mention of gender identity and expression, to ensure that that’s really elevated—but absolutely. In implementation, our worry is that, as good as everything might sound, we know that cisnormativity, as well as heteronormativity, is rampant, and unfortunately, LGBT individuals get lost. It’s really important that it’s enforced, that anything we put forward really specifically speaks to these populations, knowing that they’re more likely to experience violence than anyone else.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you. The last question, then, goes to the government. Ms. Malhi.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Thank you for your great presentation. I want to take an opportunity to talk to you about sexual harassment in the workplace. We all know that it has a devastating impact on survivors. The changes proposed in this bill would strengthen employers’ responsibilities around sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. How do you see these changes helping survivors from the LGBTQ community who are experiencing sexual violence and harassment at work?
Ms. Kathleen Pye: I think it could very much impact survivors in that if they know that there are really strong policies and procedures that specifically make mention of different marginalized individuals, such as LGBT communities, they may feel safer. But, again, I think it still comes down to implementation, where we have to have a strong emphasis where we say, “It’s not enough just to have a policy.” You have to make sure that if there are inappropriate jokes in the workplace, we’re actually speaking to these types of things. Making those individuals visible is going to be really important. I think it has a really strong impact, as long as we really make sure that the implementation is appropriate.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Thanks.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you for your presentation today.
Ms. Kathleen Pye: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Members of the committee, we will adjourn and reconvene at 9 a.m. in London on Thursday.
The committee adjourned at 1449.
Tuesday 19 January 2016
Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016, Bill 132, Ms. MacCharles / Loi de 2016 sur le Plan d’action contre la violence et le harcèlement sexuels (en soutien aux survivants et en opposition à la violence et au harcèlement sexuels), projet de loi 132, Mme MacCharles SP-685
Subcommittee report SP-685
Trent Central Student Association; Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario SP-686
Ms. Hilary Stafford
Trent University SP-688
Ms. Louise Fish
Ms. Ruth Walker
YWCA Peterborough Haliburton SP-691
Ms. Lynn Zimmer
Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre SP-693
Ms. Sonya Vellenga
Fleming College SP-695
Ms. Kristi Kerford
Ontario Network of Victim Service Providers; Victim Services Peterborough and Northumberland SP-698
Ms. Emily Poulin
Egale Canada SP-700
Ms. Kathleen Pye
STANDING COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL POLICY
Chair / Président
Mr. Peter Tabuns (Toronto–Danforth ND)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président
Mr. Jagmeet Singh (Bramalea–Gore–Malton ND)
Mr. Granville Anderson (Durham L)
Mr. Vic Dhillon (Brampton West / Brampton-Ouest L)
Mrs. Amrit Mangat (Mississauga–Brampton South / Mississauga–Brampton-Sud L)
Mrs. Gila Martow (Thornhill PC)
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry (Cambridge L)
Mr. Norm Miller (Parry Sound–Muskoka PC)
Mr. Jagmeet Singh (Bramalea–Gore–Malton ND)
Mr. Peter Tabuns (Toronto–Danforth ND)
Mr. Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury L)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr. Mike Colle (Eglinton–Lawrence L)
Ms. Harinder Malhi (Brampton–Springdale L)
Mr. Lou Rinaldi (Northumberland–Quinte West L)
Ms. Peggy Sattler (London West ND)
Ms. Laurie Scott (Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock PC)
Mr. John Yakabuski (Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke PC)
Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes
Hon. Jeff Leal (Peterborough L)
Clerk / Greffière
Ms. Valerie Quioc Lim
Staff / Personnel
Ms. Carrie Hull, research officer,