STANDING COMMITTEE ON
COMITÉ PERMANENT DE
LA POLITIQUE SOCIALE
Thursday 21 January 2016 Jeudi 21 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 0902 in the DoubleTree by Hilton, London.
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 morning, everyone. Welcome to London. The Standing Committee on Social Policy will now come to order.
We are here to resume public hearings on Bill 132, An Act to amend various statutes with respect to sexual violence, sexual harassment, domestic violence and related matters.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you very much, Chair. I wanted to welcome everyone to London. I’m delighted that the social policy committee was able to travel here.
Those of us who served on the select committee will recall witnesses talking about the expertise that resides in this community on issues about sexual violence and domestic violence, so I’m really pleased that we are here and able to get some of that expertise to inform this legislation.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you, Ms. Sattler. Now let’s begin—oh, Ms. McGarry.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: I’m sorry. If I may, I just wanted to welcome everybody here. I live in Cambridge, an hour up the road, and a lot of folks who are coming today to speak are from my area, from Guelph and the surrounding southwest area.
I echo the member from London West’s comments. This has been an incredible privilege, to have people come before us and talk to us about sexual violence and harassment in Ontario. So welcome, everybody, and thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you both.
Let’s now begin with presentations. Each presenter has a 15-minute time slot. The presenter has up to 10 minutes for their presentation, and the remaining time may be used for questions from committee members.
Members, if there are more than five minutes remaining, we will divide it equally among the parties. Otherwise, we’ll give it to one party in rotation.
Sault Area Hospital
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Our first presentation is from the Sault Area Hospital, by teleconference. I gather you’re on the line.
Ms. Lisa Case: Yes.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Could you please introduce yourselves for Hansard, and we’ll proceed from there.
Ms. Lisa Case: Good morning. Thank you for this opportunity. My name is Lisa Case. I’m the manager of our Sault Area Hospital sexual assault/partner assault care centre. I have with me Becky Chiarot, our hospital’s occupational health and safety officer.
I have two points to make. One is the premise that if you build it safely, they will come, so victims will come forward. The biggest concern that I would have in relation to the work that we do with our sexual assault and partner assault care centre would be that we must ensure there are appropriate and stable resources and supports that are in place, both in urban and rural areas. This would be in relation to the other part of the action plan, of committing to stabilized funding and support, ensuring that these would be of more long-standing stability, rather than one year at a time.
The second piece that I have is more in relation to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the related policies for colleges, universities and private colleges. How can we work as collaboratively as possible to inform the policies from a victim-empowerment stance, informed by victim choice—parallel or similar to the ability for individuals to report and seek support for those who have experienced sexual violence, with the choice of whether or not to involve police or investigators—so from a criminal justice standpoint, victims can report and seek support and have their experience documented, and they can choose themselves whether or not that goes forward to the police? In the case of policies for universities, colleges, private colleges and other organizations that are having these policies, how does the victim have a choice as to how far investigations proceed, or whether or not it’s investigated? We need to ensure that the focus is on healing and support, as opposed to investigation and persecution.
That’s all I have right now. I would like to pass it along to Becky Chiarot, our occupational health and safety officer.
Ms. Becky Chiarot: Good morning. Like Lisa mentioned, my name is Becky Chiarot and I’m the occupational health and safety officer here at Sault Area Hospital. I’m going to comment more specifically on the proposed amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
In reviewing those potential amendments or additions, there are two separate areas that speak about the necessity to create a mechanism to link to an external resource for reporting. Specifically, in clause 32.0.6(2)(b), it asks for us to include measures and procedures for workers to be able to report to someone other than the employer or supervisor if the employer or supervisor is the alleged harasser. Our comments in relation to this are that this would probably look different depending on the size of your organization—or does it look different depending on the size? For us, we’re probably a medium- to large-size employer, so we have mechanisms where workers who are experiencing something like that could report to someone other than their immediate supervisor. However, once we get to the employer, if it was the employer, is this piece of legislation pointing to external reporting for those cases, and is it mandatory or do we just need to create an option for workers, should they not feel safe to report it internally, that they could report externally?
In section 55.3(1), the authority for Ministry of Labour inspectors to order an external investigation, what type of criteria would inspectors use to determine if a report needed to go to a third party for investigation, or is there an opportunity for employers to do that themselves?
Another question or comment: If we have workers reporting externally—and would this be a community, Ministry of Labour, or even a private organization? If we have employees reporting externally, would there be guidance around the obligation to report back to the employer? Or are we going to be getting into a situation where they might be able to report but it would be up to the victim to decide if they wanted the employer to know? Those are just some of the questions that we have in relation to that.
Beyond investigating and corrective action, something that we’ve talked about with my colleague Lisa, here, is that once a report is filed and the investigation is done, do we have some workplace-specific supports or something that the employer could use to facilitate healing for that worker while they continue to work with us, and create a safe environment for them to continue to heal and, hopefully, to get back to some kind of state of normal?
The last thing that I wanted to mention was a positive comment, and that was the development of the public service announcements that are circulating, the It’s Never Okay campaign and Who Will You Help? campaign. I just wanted to mention how useful those PSAs have been, even for us as an employer. We’ve been looking for ways to integrate those into our orientation. They’ve got a great message, a great tagline, and I think they will be really effective for getting the message across that it’s never okay. So we’re very pleased with that work.
I think that’s about it from us.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Okay. Thank you very much. We’ll go to questions, then. It’s about two and a half minutes per party. We start with the third party. Ms. Sattler.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you very much for the presentation. Becky, I had a couple of questions about your presentation. It was very useful, and I hope that we can get a copy of your notes, if that’s possible.
You flagged two issues that were of concern to me as well, when I first reviewed the legislation—in particular, what triggers an external investigation to be conducted. It says that the inspector may order an investigation to be conducted by an impartial third party. Did you have any advice or recommendations for us about potential amendments? Or are you just flagging the need for the regulations to spell out some of the circumstances in which an external investigation would be launched?
Ms. Becky Chiarot: I’m not sure that I have a specific recommendation. I think every situation might be very different, so it might be difficult to be prescriptive when an external investigation would have to happen. Off the top of my head, I would think if it’s the CEO or a senior director of a company, those might be situations in which it may be challenging to do an impartial internal investigation, so those might be obvious situations where a third-party investigation would be a good idea for everyone involved. But beyond that, I don’t necessarily have a specific idea of how that could be amended.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: The other issue you talked about is the need for supports for employers to help victims heal, once the report has been filed and the investigation is complete, and there has been a finding about the harassment that occurred. I was wondering about the need for training for employers to facilitate that process of the aftermath of an investigation—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Ms. Sattler, I’m sorry to say you’re out of time.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Oh. Is there time for an answer?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): No. I go to Ms. McGarry.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you very much for your presentation this morning. I know Ms. Sattler was cut off, but I was also thinking along the same lines as she was, so I’m going to have you continue to answer questions regarding the legislation, or potential amendments to the proposed legislation regarding the reporting internally versus externally.
You had mentioned that in clause 32 particularly, you were concerned about whether the legislation is pointing to mandatory reporting internally. Do you have any suggestions on the wording on that, and any other comments regarding the reporting?
Ms. Becky Chiarot: I don’t at this very time have suggestions on wording. Perhaps, if that’s something I could take away, I could look at that and submit that with my notes that were requested earlier.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Yes, that would be good.
Ms. Becky Chiarot: Okay.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: The second thing I wanted to ask is, based on your work, which element of this bill do you think will help the women who come to you most?
I’ll give you a suggestion—like the It’s Never Okay campaign ads or the #WhoWillYouHelp Twitter hashtag: Anything along those lines you wanted to comment on?
Ms. Becky Chiarot: We’re looking at the definition; we find that helpful. Before these amendments, there wasn’t a specific arrow pointing towards sexual harassment in the legislation. I’m sure we could have filed it away in there somewhere, but having that specific definition in the legislation is excellent. But also, that PSA, the “It’s Never Okay” PSA, the message that comes out through there is just amazing. I think it will help women be able to identify those situations in which maybe they felt uncomfortable but weren’t sure if this really was harassment or if it was just something they didn’t appreciate, but really that it’s not okay and there are things that we can do to deal with it. So the more prescriptive nature of Bill 132 is good in that it gives us clear guidelines on how to approach these situations.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): With that, you’re out of time.
We’ll go to the next questioner, from the official opposition. Ms. Jones.
Ms. Sylvia Jones: Lisa and Becky, we appreciate you calling in this morning.
Lisa, I’m interested in the comments you started with where you made reference to victim empowerment and victim choice on whether or not to report. Are you raising that in your presentation because you can see concerns in the way the legislation is being proposed? Can you expand on your comments related to that?
Ms. Lisa Case: Yes, absolutely. Certainly when we have, say, an individual who is in a state of power, like a physician, who is allegedly sexually abusing or harassing someone, if you’re part of a regulated health profession, you have an obligation to report. If it is a child and they are being harassed or assaulted or abused by a person in power, if they are at risk—certainly we have the Child and Family Services Act—there’s an obligation to report.
However, for adults, we want to make sure we’re not taking power away from people where, as an employer or as a supervisor, it’s, “I know what’s best for you and this is how we will proceed,” as opposed to, “What do you need? How can we help?”
Giving back that power that perhaps has been taken away in a situation of harassment or any form of sexual violence—how do we make sure our policies are about empowerment and choice, that, “These are your options,” allowing the individual, perhaps, to make the most informed choice, so not prescriptive in nature? I think they have to have enough prescription or teeth, per se, to have organizations take them seriously and have policies in place, but we want to make sure that we’re not taking the rights away from the individuals who have actually had the experience. I think it is a fine line.
I know our health and safety officers—Becky has taken it very seriously. We have a workplace violence committee that has met for many, many years. It has a rep from our Sexual Assault Care Centre on it, informing that throughout, ensuring that all of our policies related to safety, but particularly violence, are victim-informed—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say that you’ve run out of time.
Ms. Sylvia Jones: Thank you.
Ms. Lisa Case: Okay, I appreciate that.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much for your presentation this morning.
United Way London and Middlesex
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): We go on to our next presenters, United Way London and Middlesex. Ms. Bartlett? As you have heard, you have up to 10 minutes to present. We’ll go from there to questions. If you would introduce yourself for Hansard. Thank you.
Ms. Dani Bartlett: My name is Dani Bartlett. I am presently the labour and service coordinator at United Way London and Middlesex. As part of my role, I facilitate the Labour Community Advocate Training Program. The program provides information about social issues faced by working people and the resources available in the community. Participants are trained in communication and interviewing skills, as well as referral techniques so they can assist union members to find appropriate resources. The program also allows participants to explore the ways in which unions and other labour bodies can build resilient and respectful communities.
Labour community advocates listen and provide a resource where union members can safely and confidentially discuss a problem they are facing and figure out how to proceed. They make referrals to appropriate community services. They act as a link or bridge for union members. Labour community advocates follow up to ensure that referrals were appropriate, that services meet the member’s needs and that support systems are in place once the member returns to his or her job.
Before this role I was a Unifor women’s advocate. As a women’s advocate, I was a specially trained workplace representative who assisted women with concerns such as workplace harassment, intimate violence and abuse. I wasn’t a counsellor but a safe place to land when times were tough, when a woman was in crisis and needed someone to listen, understand and to have the tools to help them find the proper supports that were needed.
One of the reasons I came to present today was because of how important I feel this bill and bills such as Bill 168 are to the work the advocates do. At the same time as I applaud the changed language and appreciate the changes that adding this language around sexual violence will cause, I’d like to express the frustration I have around the existing laws, language and protections with Bill 168 and what I feel will happen with the language. To be frank, what we are seeing in our workplaces is that the provisions are being ignored. The language and provisions are not well understood and the organizations I work with just don’t have a clear understanding of what is required and expected of them.
This new language does add a few more protections and adding language around harassment is a good start, but my real concern lies with training, investigations and how these new rules and, quite honestly, the existing rules will be enforced.
Currently, we have an Occupational Health and Safety Act in which those who enforce the rules only have the power to check and see if employers have a policy to address violence and harassment. Inspectors have no real power or authority and quite truly not the training to look at how effective the policy is. Does the policy protect all of the workers? Will it make everyone safer? And is the policy actually doable?
Too often, workplaces are putting together policies that sound great but are truly not functional. Often, when investigating cases, workplaces and unions have no real, clear understanding if they are making the right choices, and many are waiting to see what happens at arbitration to see if the answers they came up with were right.
We have not seen a change in the amount of workers complaining about sexual harassment or domestic violence since Bill 168 and the already-existing provisions to the Ontario Human Rights Code, so it is my sincere hope that you make sure there are enough teeth to this bill to ensure change, or it is truly just more well-intentioned words on paper.
It seems to me that what is great in the wording for the colleges, universities and trades piece and missing from the occupational amendments is obligation and penalty. In 2004, the Criminal Code of Canada was amended in response to the Westray mine disaster, adding criminal liability to the Criminal Code, but it wasn’t until this year, almost 12 years later, that anybody will serve any time for killing a worker. I truly hope it won’t take 12 years for these amendments to have significant impact.
This new bill does set out that employers must investigate both complaints and incidents, which I hope means that if they are aware of incidents, even if there is no complaint, they are obligated to investigate. It also sets out how those involved are informed of the results of the investigations and corrective actions, and that they must review the policy once a year.
This brings me to my other major concern and where I hope this committee will see a need for more change: It’s training. It is important to train everyone doing the investigation not only on how and when to do an investigation but on sexual harassment and violence. I can appreciate why these bills fall under the health and safety act, but health and safety is black and white, right and wrong. Violence against women and sexual harassment isn’t always black and white; truly, it very rarely is.
The centre for research on violence against women and children in London and the Canadian Labour Congress have done amazing work. They have tool kits and training about workplace violence, and investigations and harassment. But this is not a 20-minute training course. It’s not easy to understand, and to have best practices to investigate these cases with some modest bit of empathy, compassion and knowledge, it’s going to take more comprehensive training.
There is also a need to be clear on how the workforce is trained about their policies. There is real opportunity here to make real change in the way Canadians think about domestic violence and sexual harassment if we have some clear obligations on training and workplace policies.
A four-question questionnaire online on a watered-down PSA won’t cut it, especially when normally the first question on this four-question questionnaire is, “Did you watch the video?” We need to take a page from Neighbours, Friends and Families and talk about real solutions and steps to ending and dealing with violence and harassment.
While we are talking about training, let’s talk about the inspectors. I sincerely hope it is understood that the Ministry of Labour will need to hire more inspectors to deal with these new provisions. These inspectors will need comprehensive training around domestic violence and sexual harassment. Like I said before, the issue is not black and white but unique to each person and each incident, so the training must include all aspects of domestic violence so inspectors can have true understanding of the issue.
One of the most exciting proposed changes is the ability for these inspectors to order an impartial third party to come in and do the investigation, which is an approach that most unions have taken for a long time, with much success. We often use a trained women’s advocate from one workplace to do an investigation or advocate work in another. This allows the advocate to be impartial and helps protect all workers from the backlash and helps control the rumour mill. I just wish that it was clearer on what will trigger this third-party investigation and, again, how the third party will be chosen and the training they will have.
Another concern I have is that there seems to be no clear obligation for an employer to protect all workers from sexual harassment and domestic violence, no real set-out consequences if an employer does not comply with the changes, and no right-to-refuse-work language if the workers are exposed to harassment or domestic violence.
Also, I would like to see a clear indication of how joint health and safety committees will address these issues and, again, to see that these committees receive proper training on the issue. I believe it is absolutely necessary that the employers be required to consult with the joint committees when they are developing the harassment policies, and should be required to include the joint committee in investigations and to report incidents to committee. This is the only way to ensure that all preventive action is taken and exposure is monitored and minimized. This is also a way to ensure that there are no reprisals or discipline for making a complaint.
Another issue that I feel is clearly missing from the bill, and Bill 168, is talking about the abusers. I think there is a real opportunity, and one we miss, time and time again, to engage the abusers. We as advocates, EAP reps, and health and safety reps often come in contact with these individuals. We often have multiple opportunities to engage and offer help, many times before critical incidents occur. During my work as a women’s advocate, I could often clearly see signs that those I was working with were in distress, and signs that they were in different levels of need or assistance. We don’t often take the time to address this, and often, as a women’s advocate, we feel we must focus on the victim’s needs. I truly feel this is a missed opportunity and feel that with this bill we have a chance to add language to require that those persons who perpetrate violence or sexual harassment seek help in programs like Changing Ways and other partner assault response programs.
One of the first cases I investigated as a women’s advocate involved a male worker who was not performing well at work—absences, temper, mood swings and a huge change in attitude. When I spent the time to talk to him, he expressed having trouble at home with his wife and kids. What really came out was a sense of self-loathing and remorse. Although he never admitted at that time that violence had occurred, he expressed the feeling of loss of control at both home and work, and talked about the abuse he lived through as a child. I recommended that he check out a support group we have in London called Changing Ways, and he ended up voluntarily going through the program.
For this guy, it changed not only his life but his family’s. We later discussed that he had hurt his wife, and that he knew his children were suffering for it. He now talks about his abusive behaviour and his belief he had at the time that it was his right to control his wife however he wanted to. This guy now talks to other men about the belief, and speaks up when he feels others’ behaviour is not right.
I truly feel that we need to talk to workers about domestic violence and harassment and have options and solutions for both those that may be experiencing it and also for those who are perpetrating it.
Again, I want to thank this committee for the work they have done, but ask that you consider my concerns. To make real change, we need a bill that requires workplaces to have a clear policy on sexual harassment that includes obligations and consequences; that there is progressive and comprehensive training for everyone, from the workers to the inspectors; and that we add language that requires the abusers to be required and assisted in obtaining help.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you, Ms. Bartlett. We have less than five minutes. We go to the government. They have the time remaining. Ms. McGarry?
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you very much, Dani, for your presentation. You’ve got a ton of suggestions here—or I think you have suggestions.
The first thing I wanted to talk about was training. You talked about increased training, not only about when the investigator might have to go in and investigate an incident. I’m just wondering if you had suggestions on wording or amendments that might make that part of the bill stronger.
Ms. Dani Bartlett: I think that the real point of training is to talk about domestic violence. There was a concern on the phone that people’s rights could get done in these investigations, but if a workplace talks about domestic violence as part of their regular health and safety training, that onus comes off the table. It’s not only being talked about when there’s an incident, which becomes: Everybody knows about the incident. When you talk about domestic violence and sexual harassment all the time and it becomes a normal place to talk about it, then people begin to feel safe to bring their concerns and stuff. So I think the training has to be all the time, it has to be mandatory, and it has to be part of what we’re training when we’re training health and safety.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: I get that. I think that you made the case for the training aspect very clear—that you’d like to see, perhaps, a more robust training program. If you were able to write it, what kind of suggestions would you put into a program of training—not only to investigate but to be able to step in earlier when there are signs of risky behaviour?
Ms. Dani Bartlett: These programs are already written. Like I said, the centre for research here in London has done amazing work. If people understand what the signs are, if people understand that most workers don’t come to work one day a really nice person and the next day really stressed out and that these are signs that something else is seriously wrong, and that we look at this with empathy as opposed to, “This worker is no longer performing,” we can make change. So I would think that in the training, you need the signs and you need to have these steps so that we can be empathetic with each other and understanding. Our moods don’t change like that; there’s always a reason why.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: When it comes to training, which individuals would you target in a workplace to have this specific training?
Ms. Dani Bartlett: I think you should train everybody—literally everyone—and have each training go from basic training to more comprehensive for those people who are dealing with the victims so that they have some kind of real empathy and real ability to listen and help.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: I think that this is part of what we are bringing forward. A lot of the work that the government has been doing related to sexual violence and harassment in Ontario is really trying to change some of the thinking in Ontario and having everybody step up to the plate in order to address this pervasive issue.
You were also talking about how the proposed legislation may be unclear about who or how triggering a third-party investigation was going to go. Can you elaborate on your suggestions there?
Ms. Dani Bartlett: First of all, I think that third-party investigations are really, really important. I think that if you’re doing an investigation into both of the individuals, the perpetrator and the victim, in the workplace, a third party should always be brought in. It’s really hard to take emotion out of an investigation. It’s easier when somebody doesn’t know and doesn’t already have those preconceived ideas. So I think a third-party investigation is really important.
If you can have a health and safety committee where you have more than one person doing the investigation, that’s also helpful. When that’s not the case, I think a third party—somebody who’s trained to be comprehensive, who understands how you need to not make the situation worse and that after you leave an investigation, you’re not leaving a situation that’s more dangerous for all of those people involved.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: What part of the bill do you think has the greatest impact for survivors of sexual violence?
Ms. Dani Bartlett: I think that just the fact that we’re talking about it has the greatest impact.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you. I also thought that your comments about putting some of the training into the orientation package was an excellent suggestion. Can you elaborate further on that?
Ms. Dani Bartlett: I just think that the training should be with every other training. When you do your WHMIS, when you do all of the training, health and safety, we should be talking about sexual harassment and domestic violence so that people know it’s unacceptable and so that they know that there are protections in place and there’s someplace to go. The more we talk about it, the less people will think it’s a dirty little secret.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say you’re out of time. Thank you very much for your presentation.
London Abused Women’s Centre
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Our next presenter, then, is London Abused Women’s Centre: Megan Walker. Ms. Walker, as you’ve heard, you have up to 10 minutes to present. That will be followed by questions. If you would introduce yourself for Hansard.
Ms. Megan Walker: Thank you so much. My name is Megan Walker and I’m the executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre. I am here today representing the agency.
We believe that, overall, the act is largely terrific, and we do support it. We would suggest to you today five recommendations that we believe will strengthen it.
The first one would be that, consistent with the statement in the preamble that the government will not tolerate sexual violence, sexual harassment or domestic violence, we would propose that the definition of “sexual violence” throughout the bill be amended by adding to the end of it: “Sexual violence is a tactic of abuse in intimate relationships and is used by abusive men to gain and maintain power and control over a woman.”
We do find that what is missing throughout the document is the terminology of domestic violence, what it means and the impact on women who are with intimate partners.
I would also suggest to you a second recommendation, which is that schedule 3 of the bill be amended to include the education act—Bill 52—or any other relevant act which would recognize the prevalence of sexual violence occurring in girls under the age of 18. We think it’s too limiting to just focus on post-secondary education. In fact, in 2007 the agency did a needs assessment with young girls between the ages of 12 and 15. At that time, we found that 19% of adolescent girls reported being assaulted by someone they were “going out” with, and 24% reported being sexually assaulted by someone they were “hanging out or hooking up” with. We feel that the bill is really missing the boat with respect to reaching out to these young girls.
Recommendation number 3 is that the province explore and review the success of groundbreaking work that already exists with respect to training—things like the city of London’s I Step Forward program, which works to end violence and abuse in the workplace, in the community and in their homes. What it does is create champions for peace, and it has been a very effective program with respect to training—about 2,200 individuals have been trained so far—and also with respect to early referrals of women and men: men who are being abusive being referred to Changing Ways, our local PAR program, and also women being referred to local agencies that are working to end men’s violence against women and provide counselling.
Our fourth recommendation would be with respect to investing the resources necessary to address the court system. Currently, if a woman chooses to go to the police and lay a sexual assault complaint, and if a charge is laid, by the time that complaint makes its way through the courts, it could be up to three years. In three years, many of these women have moved on in their lives and are not willing to go back to that time in their lives. I think this is a huge issue which is preventing many, many women from reporting the sexual violence they are facing.
Finally, I would like to recommend that the province of Ontario immediately follow through on its unanimous endorsement of Laurie Scott’s proposal to establish a human trafficking task force. We know that the 400-series corridor is a major hub for transporting women and girls across this province, from Windsor all the way up through to northern Ontario. London was once a destination that women were trafficked to; it is now a destination where women are being recruited from. We are meeting on a regular basis with parents who have lost their children, some as young as 13 years old.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you for your presentation. We’ll start the rotation with the official opposition. Ms. Scott?
Ms. Laurie Scott: Thank you very much for appearing here today, and certainly for endorsing my motion for establishing a human trafficking task force.
London certainly, probably predominantly because of its access to the 401, has been a hub for human trafficking. What you have experienced delivering services for victims—I wonder if you could elaborate. You mentioned the court times, but could you elaborate a little bit more, specifically on the human trafficking aspect, on what’s missing in the victim services delivery?
Ms. Megan Walker: One of the things that we’re finding is that most women being trafficked are not being trafficked by organized crime but in fact by boyfriends—they call them “Romeo pimps” or “lover boy pimps”—and so by the time parents realize what’s going on, they’ve actually lost their kids to other cities. There are no real programs to allow parents to understand what’s going on in their lives and how they could potentially reintegrate their daughter or son back into their families. We have now provided, as of last week, 42 parents and family members with support services to help them stay involved in searching for their daughters. We know that there are a lot of difficulties because when we do report to the police, oftentimes those girls and young women will say they’re there by choice. In fact, the police don’t believe that; they believe there is a pimp and that that girl is just one of many girls that pimp is prostituting or trafficking across the province.
There needs to be a lot better education with respect to interviewing these girls and supporting these girls and, quite frankly, what is human trafficking and sex trafficking. We’ve proposed many times, although we don’t have a budget for it, that somebody go across the province or across the country and actually do PSAs around what to look for in an intimate relationship, for girls and young women, to determine if it’s a safe relationship or not.
Ms. Laurie Scott: How much time do I have, Chair?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): You have 45 seconds.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Okay. Definitely the training of front-line—and I know that the police are doing the best they can but there aren’t enough resources to train them for the human trafficking. Certainly, the victim services are very specialized in regard to the human trafficking survivors, if we can rescue them—and the thought that they do have a safety net to go to and can exit the trade. I wanted to thank you for your advocacy on that.
I don’t know if you wanted to add anything more on the training. Certainly, we found that a provincial network needs to be established.
Ms. Megan Walker: Yes, there needs to be some consistent understanding of what sex trafficking is, and I think there needs to be an understanding that—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry, but you’re out of time with this question.
I’ll go to the next questioner. Ms. Sattler.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you very much for coming today and for your presentation.
I wanted to ask you specifically about your second recommendation that schedule 3, which deals with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act, also include an amendment to the education act. Is it your thought that the amendment to the education act should parallel what’s currently in here—requiring individual schools or school boards to have sexual violence policies that would be comparable to what post-secondary institutions are required to have?
Ms. Megan Walker: That’s right. That’s exactly what we’re proposing, and we’re proposing that it be implemented in elementary and secondary schools, both in the public and separate schools.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: So it would be school boards as well as independent schools?
Ms. Megan Walker: That’s right.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: So a whole new schedule that would—okay. I’ve got it.
Ms. Megan Walker: I’m not sure why the decision was made to start at post-secondary school when what we really want to do is shift the culture for future generations and get the information into the schools at a very young age. If there is no actual legislation that pushes for school boards to do that, it’s done on a voluntary basis, and I would suggest, given resources, that it’s not given high priority.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: The other question is about the I Step Forward training. I’m curious to know about the evaluation. It has been in place since 2010, so that’s five years. Is there some data about prior to the training and subsequent to the training, about reporting or incidents of harassment within that workplace?
Ms. Megan Walker: I’m sure the city of London, if you contacted them, could provide you with their actual evaluation, but what we know is that prior to I Step Forward being launched, there were numerous complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace throughout the corporation of the city of London.
The London Coordinating Committee to End Woman Abuse came together and collaborated in the development of the I Step Forward program. It’s very gender-neutral, at the request of the city of London, but does highlight that women are more at risk of being harassed than men.
What it does is really allow individuals who are working for the city of London to not only focus on what’s going on in the workplace, but also in homes and communities. Garbage collectors, for instance: If they’re noticing something in a home—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say you’re out of time—again.
We go to the government party. Ms. Malhi.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Thank you for being here today. I just wanted to ask—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): The microphone. We can’t hear you very well.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Sorry. I wanted to ask you a little bit more about the program as well. If you could just give us a little more detail on the I Step Forward program and how it runs.
Ms. Megan Walker: This is a program that fundamentally tries to create what we call champions for peace, men and women who are committed to ending violence in all of its forms. It’s an extensive training program that every employee—whether they be a part-time person at an arena or the chief executive officer, and all city councillors, they all receive it.
What it does is it outlines what to look for, how to ask questions. It states very clearly that we don’t expect employees to become social workers but to know where the referral sites are. The city of London has taken its staff members through tours of various agencies, so they know how to talk about the agencies they’ll be referring individuals to. As Dani Bartlett indicated earlier, it does involve extensive training. We’re not talking about a half-hour, one-hour training program; this is extensive training, and it’s required and it’s making a difference.
We know that at our agency alone, the number of referrals we are receiving has increased significantly since they started the program. It used to be that we’d be receiving referrals directly from the human resources department; we’re now receiving referrals directly from the employees.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: And when you’re receiving these referrals, where are they being geared and where are they going to? How are they being dealt with?
Ms. Megan Walker: We do work with women who are being harassed in the workplace. I guess you’d call it—we provide navigation services, so we try to help women decide where they want to go.
We had a call the other day from somebody in the outdoor services, the outdoor workers’ union, who noticed something that was happening on a front lawn as he was driving by, with respect to a woman in her nightgown in the cold. He called the police and then also called us. It’s in and out of the workplace.
Really, I think when you talk about champions of peace, that’s what we’re talking about: We’re talking about champions to end men’s violence against women. Already, we know that we have 2,200 at the city of London.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Okay. Mrs. McGarry, you have 30 seconds.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Thirty seconds? Just a quick comment regarding investigations done by the court system: Do you think the limitation changes that we’ve talked about in here—the statute of limitations—is going to benefit, removing that two-year limitation?
Ms. Megan Walker: Well, I think it is going to benefit, but the reality is that if a woman comes forward in 10 years and it’s still going to take her three years to get through the process, it’s not benefiting her. The courts really need to be examined and resourced appropriately so that any woman who reports to the police can have her case addressed immediately through the courts.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I thank you for that.
Ms. Megan Walker: Thank you so much, and again, we do largely support this and we think it’s really necessary.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you.
Society of Graduate Students at Western University
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): The next presentation, then: the Society of Graduate Students of the University of Western Ontario. As you’ve heard, you have up to 10 minutes to present. That will be followed by questions. If you’d introduce yourselves for Hansard and start in.
Ms. Kirstyn Seanor: Hello. Here we have Tamara Hinan, the president of the Society of Graduate Students; I’m Kirstyn Seanor, the vice-president, external affairs and communication, for the society; and Taniya Nagpal, our women’s concerns commissioner.
The Society of Graduate Students is a student union comprised of full- and part-time graduate students at Western University. We are a democratic body representing about 5,000 graduate students spanning 65 departments. Concerns regarding sexual violence and campus safety were part of the motivation in creating a women’s concerns commissioner role as recently as 2015. Our purpose, broadly speaking, is to advocate and represent graduate student issues, and it is this purpose that motivates our attendance here today.
Ms. Taniya Nagpal: We’d first like to share the work being done currently at Western. As a result of this policy, SOGS has had student representation on the Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Committee. For the first time at graduate student orientation, which welcomes over 800 students every year, a student and the vice-provost of graduate studies together presented Western’s commitment to campus safety, including prevention of sexual violence. Educational events, such as a campus-wide consent and compassion forum, were hosted at Western, focused on establishing a consent culture on our campus. It was powered and implemented by students and staff working together. The conversation and work to improve our campus to ensure that sexual violence is prevented—and students reporting or in need of support—is a conversation that is ongoing and is highly prioritized.
We now would like to make three recommendations.
Ms. Tamara Hinan: The first recommendation is developing the language to be more inclusive. The language of the act, specifically as outlined in section 3, focuses on protecting students who are currently enrolled. We argue that this language needs to be expanded to include anyone working at or reporting to the campus more generally. Campus communities include a wide variety of people who are integral to the community yet not enrolled as students, from contract workers to visiting lecturers to students on leaves of absence. Our concern is that focusing this act explicitly on enrolled students will unnecessarily complicate reporting procedures. The fact that calling 911 while on campus will connect you to campus police suggests to us that the current infrastructure supports a campus-specific reporting strategy that supports anyone reporting sexual violence while on campus, regardless of the specifics of their student status.
Notably, graduate students often find it particularly challenging to navigate the campus environment, as we are often employees as well as students. We are not unique in this situation, but this does disproportionately affect graduate students in light of how our funding is often tied to teaching or research assistant contracts. This presents challenges in handling graduate student experiences, which ought to be considered while developing sexual violence policy. If a graduate student is harassed by one of their students while performing their teaching assistant duties, will the university respond according to the student policy or to employment standards?
A similar but distinct concern is when students access university services while not enrolled. We often hear from graduate students who are on parental leave, medical leave or who have temporarily withdrawn from studies due to financial or mental health concerns, but will still visit the library, their supervisor, or student health services. These students might be overlooked in policy development despite how they are accessing student services.
We are concerned that limiting the act to enrolled students is too ambiguous to adequately address the graduate student experience. When colleges and universities are developing their sexual violence policies, we consider it imperative that they bear in mind the wider campus environment.
Ms. Kirstyn Seanor: Our second recommendation is to include a requirement for a climate survey. Regarding section 7, requiring provision of information for the minister, we encourage a specific requirement that the colleges and universities be required to complete a broader climate survey which would survey students about their experiences and perceptions around sexual violence through their college or university experience.
Statistics will only ever reflect part of the picture. This is particularly true for sexual violence, which is frequently under-reported. Some estimates suggest that as few as one out of 10 sexual assaults are reported to police. We are further concerned that the schools with the best policies might be painted the worst through reported statistics, specifically as incidents handled by both counselling services and police might get double-counted and schools with effective policies may lead to an increase in reporting. A climate survey requirement would ensure that the details and lived experience of sexual violence are adequately described so that campuses can better develop and refine their policies accordingly.
Ms. Taniya Nagpal: Finally, currently the bill states, under “Student input,” “A college or university described in subsection (2) shall ensure that student input is considered....” We recommend changing the term “considered” to “included.” “Considered” implies option, whereas it is of extreme importance to ensure that student input is certainly included in the development and dissemination of this policy.
As mentioned by my colleagues, student input is necessary to ensure that students are given the supports they need in any instance of sexual violence on campus. By having students included, the university will be better informed of what areas on campus are lacking in regard to supporting students who have experienced sexual violence, regardless of whether they would like crisis support, or in reporting an incident, and how the campus community can improve to prevent sexual violence and develop a consent culture. Students can best suggest how the campus environment can improve to increase accessibility to support services, and students are the ones that can ensure that this policy is being upheld and put into action.
Because Western has included students, we have had student representation on important committees related to sexual violence prevention and education by both undergraduate and graduate students. Students are at the forefront of planning and executing prevention events such as the mentioned consent and compassion forum, and students are empowered to express what changes they would like to see and are involved in making those changes happen. The term “included” will ensure that this is maintained and is across all campuses.
We believe that this policy has strengthened Western University. With the added recommendations, the safety of all members of our campus community will be improved. As graduate students, we are proud to attend an institution that puts our safety at the highest priority. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much. That leaves us with two and a half minutes per party. We start with the third party. Ms. Sattler.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you very much for that presentation. That was very useful.
I have a couple of questions. You mentioned the status of grad students as often both employees and students, and the potential that both employment standards or, I guess, union collective agreements may apply as well as the sexual violence policies. Is it your recommendation that the sexual violence policy should take precedence over any other provisions?
Ms. Kirstyn Seanor: Not necessarily precedence, but rather it should be predictable, to anyone reporting, what they can expect the response to be. Our concern would be that if there’s any ambiguity, or if the policy is developed without considering these complications, it will further complicate the reporting procedure in ways that might disadvantage reporters.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: I have another question, about the climate survey. This was something we heard in Peterborough from some other post-secondary institutions. Are you envisioning this climate survey as something that would be conducted annually or every two years or on a cyclical basis? Also, are you envisioning that it would be every single post-secondary student in the province, or would it be a sample of post-secondary students at each institution? Do you have any more detail about what you see for this climate survey?
Ms. Taniya Nagpal: We do see it being annual, just like the policy says that they would like statistics provided. The purpose of the climate survey is not to replace receiving statistics from other services but to be in addition to that.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: In addition—okay.
Ms. Taniya Nagpal: The purpose of this, as mentioned by Kirstyn, is the fact that we want to get more accurate representation, especially as we know, statistically, that not many people do report incidents of sexual violence, so this will allow them, hopefully, to get those responses as well.
In terms of disseminating the survey, it would be across all post-secondary institutions and not a sample of students but rather the entire campus.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you. We go to the government. Ms. Malhi.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Thank you for being here today. Over the last few days, and being on the select committee—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Ms. Malhi, could you move your microphone closer?
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Sorry. I’ll move the mike. There we go.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: We’ve really had an opportunity to hear from a lot of student unions. My colleague and I, and actually a few of us, were on the select committee here. That was another opportunity that we had to hear from students.
When we did hear from the students, every university or every college did have different requirements and different sorts of things happening. We thought it was important that everybody have a stand-alone policy so they can develop it to the needs of their specific school community. Would you agree with this, and why would you think it’s important that they do develop a stand-alone policy?
Ms. Taniya Nagpal: For exactly the reasons that you said: Campuses are unique. We understand that, so it’s important for each university to have their stand-alone policy, according to the needs of their campus community.
There are, of course, similarities across campuses; for example, the fact that graduate students across universities serve as both employees and as students. At the same time, we understand that some campuses are larger and some are smaller. There are differences even in security services. Some campuses have campus police; others have security. So in that respect, it’s important to have a stand-alone policy which can also include—Kirstyn has mentioned that it should be predictable, so you should know, according to what campus you’re on, what to expect, based on the policy that you have.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Okay. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Ms. McGarry.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Another quick question: I know I’ve asked this before, but do you find that the current ads that the government has been running—the It’s Never Okay ads as well as the #WhoWillYouHelp Twitter hashtag—is that helpful in your orientation to your students or in your student population?
Ms. Taniya Nagpal: Yes. We were discussing the use of the It’s Never Okay ad, the one where it has employees in different situations. The purpose of that, especially for graduate students, was helpful because it depicted people in different situations on campus. Sometimes you’re fulfilling the role of a student, a TA, an RA, the relationship with your supervisor or the administrative staff, so in that respect, we do believe those are helpful. And of course, the more you see the messaging, the more it becomes the norm.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much. We go to the opposition. Ms. Jones?
Ms. Sylvia Jones: Thank you for appearing. I wanted to follow up on your first recommended suggestion. It referenced complaint and action: Is it going to be based on student policy or employment legislation? I think you started to touch on it with your last comment. I’m interested in hearing more on that because, as you’ve already highlighted, it’s very challenging to ignore the employment legislation even though in some cases a graduate student is offering as both a student and an employee. Can you help us square that circle? Because it will be a challenging legislative hurdle for us to deal with.
Ms. Kirstyn Seanor: Following up on previous comments, I’d emphasize that considering this act, obviously, only places a requirement throughout the language and considering we do support the idea that every school should develop their own policy, I think even just mentioning or making it explicit that this is not only for enrolled students will encourage those who are developing these policies to consider the multitude of people on their campuses, up to and including employees who are also students. I think making that expectation clearer will help policy developers to take that into account. So even if those policies included a note of “these people, when reporting, will be provided the services as outlined in the collective agreements”—just making that explicit so that policy developers and those who are applying the policy know how to react to different cases, and so that people reporting know what to expect. I hope that clarifies it.
Ms. Sylvia Jones: Is it reasonable to assume that someone who is at a place where they’re just beginning the process of reporting is going to have to check a box that says, “I’m reporting as an employee; I’m reporting as a student”? Or do we look back at a previous recommendation that came out of the Soo, where it talked about making sure that any action going forward is victim-centred and victim-endorsed?
Ms. Kirstyn Seanor: I believe we’d all agree that the second approach, focusing on the victim-centred—our concern regarding reporting wouldn’t so much be how it’s reported when checking a box but, rather, the various places where people might report the issues. For example, we have our TA union established on campus. If someone is reporting to that office and those people are TAs who are also trained through the university, through orientations and training sessions, we would want their response to be comparable and adequate, just as anyone—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say, but you’ve run out of time. Thank you for your presentation today.
Ms. Taniya Nagpal: Thank you.
University of Guelph
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Our next presenter, then: University of Guelph. As you have heard, you have up to 10 minutes to present. That will be followed by questions. If you’d have a seat and introduce yourselves for Hansard, please begin.
Ms. Robin Begin: I’m Robin Begin. I’m the manager of students at risk, a new position. For the past 26 years I’ve been with the campus police, the last 10 as the director.
Ms. Melanie Bowman: Good morning. I’m Melanie Bowman. I’m the manager of wellness education, also representing the University of Guelph sexual assault advisory committee.
Ms. Brittany Vanword: My name is Brittany Vanword and I am a student rep from the University of Guelph sexual assault advisory committee.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you.
Ms. Brittany Vanword: First, I’m pleased to see the profile of sexual assault being addressed at the provincial level. We are all supportive of the bill coming forward and raising awareness around the issue of sexual violence.
As a student, I can say that students want a protocol that allows us to report to any door, and by that I mean that we should open as many doors as possible for reporting. I am also pleased that at the University of Guelph there has been significant student representation on both the advisory committee and all subcommittees. Not only that, but at these committees we have been empowered to have honest conversations about the services in our community and we work together to identify any gaps.
I am also a student lead on the SAFE team at the University of Guelph, and that stands for the Sexual Assault Free Environments team. Our goal is to educate and raise the awareness of students and everyone on campus regarding issues of sexual violence, consent and healthy relationships. How we do this is through ongoing programming. I’m also fortunate enough to say that our group has had wonderful support from our community and university administration.
Lastly, I just want to say that as a student, I appreciate that our university policy is not just focused on students, but also addresses sexual violence for our whole community, including students, staff and faculty.
Ms. Robin Begin: One concern is the potential complexity of a reporting structure. And there are concerns because the legislation is only focused on students. What happens if the student is a residence life staff member and a student, so a student employee? We heard earlier that you could have a grad student who is a student and an employee. What happens if it happens off campus versus on campus, or if it is at a university event off campus? There is a concern that these kinds of reports can become complicated, depending on the circumstances.
Although parents and students ask about the numbers of sexual assaults on campus, what they really want to know is what will happen to their son or daughter if they are a survivor. Does the university have processes and resources to support their student in a survivor-centric approach? Are our front-line responders trained to support students?
We need to open many doors on and off campus for students to report sexual violence, and we as a community need to support the decisions that the students make. We are concerned that if the focus is on reporting numbers, it will put up barriers for students to come forward. Students will be concerned about their confidentiality, about who will see the report. Will people be able to identify them as the survivor or the accused, and will the survivor be forced to make a formal report?
For example, when campus police release crime bulletins about an incident of sexual violence on campus, we work very hard with the survivor prior to distribution. The survivor is always concerned that people will know that the bulletin is about them. They think people will judge them. They are concerned about losing control over the process, and losing their anonymity is always a concern. We do not want to unintentionally re-victimize a survivor.
We’re concerned that if the focus becomes the reporting structure for universities, we will lose sight of the real reason we want incidents reported: so we can support the survivor; so we can take steps to enhance safety on campus; so we can provide proper resources and understand and address any gaps in our services. It’s not about numbers; it’s about a caring community and it’s about building trust and rapport. If a survivor is hesitant or afraid to report, we can’t support them.
Ms. Melanie Bowman: We recognize that the university needs a full understanding about what is occurring on campus. Are there any trends? Are there gaps in services? Is there a need for more resources or enhanced training?
In 2013, the University of Guelph, along with 32 other post-secondary institutions, administered the National College Health Assessment survey, which consists of a comprehensive set of standardized health and well-being questions. The results of the survey provided insights into the issues students face, including sexual violence.
For example, the survey asked:
—Within the last 12 months, were you sexually touched without consent? The University of Guelph response: 10% said yes.
—Within the last 12 months, was sexual penetration attempted either vaginally, anally or orally without your consent: 2.2% said yes.
—Within the last 12 months, was there sexual penetration either vaginally, anally or orally without your consent: 1.1% said yes.
The survey also highlighted the importance of the interconnectivity of sexual violence with alcohol and other drugs. It was invaluable to our sexual violence advisory committee.
The survey results also showed that our students wanted more information about how to support a peer or a roommate who is a survivor of sexual violence. This prompted the creation of an active bystander training for students that provides them with the skills to know how to intervene in situations of concern. Our active bystander program is grounded in a value system of taking pride in one’s community by helping others, and draws from the province’s Who Will You Help? initiative. This training is one part of an ongoing, multi-faceted approach to addressing sexual violence on campus.
We know that sexual violence is greatly under-reported around the world. Using a tool like a climate survey, as was discussed by Western, addresses confidentiality concerns, allows students to control all the information that they share, and provides them with a safe and honest way to share important feedback with the university.
Ms. Robin Begin: We have two recommendations we would like to put forward: that the focus of the bill be broadened to include all of the university community, including faculty, staff and students; and that the focus on reporting numbers be changed. If we really want a clearer understanding of the extent of sexual violence at our universities, the real emphasis should be put on providing a tool that will obtain comprehensive information. We feel some type of climate survey will better reflect the bigger picture and provide a better understanding of what is happening on our campuses.
Do not let the focus on reporting cloud the true issue of providing a safe and supportive campus for all of our community members, staff, students and faculty. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much. We have about two and a half minutes per caucus. We start with the government. Mrs. McGarry.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you very much for your presentation today. We’ve heard a lot from universities and colleges, and campuses in general. I’m very happy to know that we’re going forward with some recommendations to make our campuses safer.
In terms of looking at including the legislation not just for students, but all employees on campus, certainly any employee is already protected by some legislation already. The thought for this legislation going forward is to ensure that now students have a place to go, and that there is a policy that’s covering them as well.
So there’s no disconnect between the two—one was covered; one was not—but I’m interested in the grad student issue that others have brought forward regarding how they are employees and students. Can you give me some details on wording you would like to see added or amendments to that to include those students?
Ms. Robin Begin: I think our thinking was more that the policy should speak to everybody. We’re not just saying sexual violence only happens to students; it happens to our whole community. Having the employment legislation and this policy opens another door.
Again, as a survivor, if I am a grad student, then that’s my choice to say, “Do I want to go down the university’s policy to deal with it or do I want to take the law piece?” I think what it does is it opens another door. But that overall statement, that overall policy, has to say, “We’re here to protect the whole university.” The message comes off as it’s just about students.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you. The second thing I wanted to ask about was the reporting structure. I know that’s been an issue and a concern, how that’s going forward. The government will be working in the future on how that reporting structure is going to look for university and college campuses. Do you have any specific recommendations, or would you be willing to submit to that committee or join it in terms of looking at how that reporting structure is going to go?
Ms. Robin Begin: I don’t have anything specific today. Again, we liked the NCHA piece because we got so much more robust information, but absolutely, I personally would love to sit on a committee and look at that piece.
Ms. Melanie Bowman: I’d add something very quickly. I think what would be important is that we emphasize choice. We know that in an act of sexual violence, a choice is taken away from the individual, and that’s really something that—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say that you’re out of time.
Ms. Melanie Bowman: Sorry.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Not a problem. We go to the official opposition. Ms. Jones.
Ms. Sylvia Jones: Climate survey: Expand upon that for me, if you may. Is that something you would like to see annually? Is that something that should be consistent across every university; i.e., the wording should be consistent? Tell me more.
Ms. Melanie Bowman: I would echo that I see it happening annually, and I see that it is something that’s consistent and standardized across universities across the province.
Ms. Sylvia Jones: So it would be a government-led “thou shalt.” The government would prepare the survey, ensure that the survey is done within a certain deadline, review, presumably, the results of the survey and make those public?
Ms. Melanie Bowman: That would be wonderful.
I would like to advocate having student survivors and other stakeholders at the table alongside the government to put together the climate survey. I think you’d have a lot of interest and excitement about who would like to be there to support that kind of initiative.
Ms. Sylvia Jones: In terms of who would be asked to participate, I’m assuming you’re looking at a breakdown of a percentage of students, a percentage of faculty, a percentage of—help me out.
Ms. Melanie Bowman: Potentially, I would also include—most campuses work fairly closely with their rape crisis centres or sexual assault centres in the community. We have great partnerships now, so I would say that that would be an inclusion. And I would include senior administration. Again, I know that some of them are very keen and are very active in this issue.
Ms. Sylvia Jones: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Ms. Sattler.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you for the great work that is obviously happening at Guelph.
Given the work that you’ve already done to develop a policy, would the provisions of this legislation require you to go back and make changes to your policy in order to adhere to this? Or is your policy generally aligned with what’s outlined in the legislation?
Ms. Melanie Bowman: The policy is in line with what is outlined in the legislation.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Except that this legislation says that it solely addresses sexual violence involving students, and your policy states that it involves everybody within the—
Ms. Melanie Bowman: Everyone. It’s not a tough thing to make an amendment to—
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Okay. Going back to the climate survey: The section of the legislation that’s entitled “Information for minister”—what I’m understanding is that the specific items that the legislation indicates that the minister is supposed to collect—the numbers of times these supports are accessed, and programs that are established by the university. Is it your recommendation, not that this information not be collected, but that the means of collecting it be through a climate survey; that the climate survey should be the vehicle to collect this data?
Ms. Robin Begin: Yes, I think our feeling is that that will give you better data. I do understand the statistics piece. I think if that’s seen as the focus, it truly is going to hinder people from coming forward.
The example I will give from my personal experience is ViCLAS—sorry, I can’t tell you what the words are. When a police officer has a sexual assault, they have to fill out a booklet called the ViCLAS, and the focus changes from supporting that person to getting very detailed information. You can feel the change in the room for that survivor when I’m asking, “Was it their right hand or their left hand?”
That’s my concern. If the focus becomes the statistics, that number, we’re losing that focus on really opening the doors and having people come forward and supporting them.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much for your presentation today.
Sexual Assault Centre London
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Our next presenter is the Sexual Assault Centre London.
As you have probably heard, you have up to 10 minutes to present, followed by questions. Please introduce yourself for Hansard.
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell: I’m here on behalf of the Sexual Assault Centre London and Middlesex, also known as SACL. My name is AnnaLise Trudell. I’m the program coordinator, public educator and research consultant. I’m also a doctoral candidate at Western University.
Relying on 40 years of expertise and experience, SACL offers individual and group counselling for female-identified survivors, a 24-hour crisis and support line available to all genders, accompaniment and advocacy, and public education and outreach. In the past year, we’ve served 407 individual counselling clients, 804 crisis callers, 4,000 public education attendees, and 100 girls through our Girls Creating Change prevention program.
We thank the government for the action plan It’s Never Okay and for supporting these efforts through the introduction of Bill 132. We also thank the Standing Committee on Social Policy for the opportunity to provide input today.
Under schedules 3 and 5, all colleges, universities and private career colleges have to have stand-alone sexual violence policies that are developed using student input. We strongly recommend that input from community sexual assault centres be added as a requirement in the development of these policies.
Students are also community members and do not live in campus silos. They go in and out of campus spaces and, be it one, two or four years later, they integrate fully as members of the larger communities in which they reside. Offering integrated connections for students to community resources is a sustainable approach to supporting survivors of sexual violence.
Additionally, sexual assault centres and rape crisis centres have been honing their analysis, prevention work and expertise in counselling around sexual violence for over 40 years. Let’s not reinvent the wheel; let’s pull on existing knowledge sources.
Provincially, through the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, we have a very strong coalition with sexual assault centres in many university and college towns. They know the region, they’re experts on the issue and they have a wealth of knowledge on navigating community resources. The coalition and the centres can provide province-wide support in the development of the policies under schedules 3 and 5.
In 2014, a research report was released by the University of Ottawa entitled From Reacting to Preventing: Addressing Sexual Violence on Campus by Engaging Community Partners. We would point the committee to this report and reiterate the suggestion it forwards: that engaging with community organizations to address sexual violence on campus is imperative. It found that students who used the supports of community groups appreciated that their presence provided an alternative to institutionalized campus services such as security, health or human rights officers. With confidentiality being a major concern for any sexual assault survivor but particularly in a campus setting, the community agency was generally viewed as an outsider group, and students felt that they would be less likely to side with the institution and more likely to provide them with a neutral perspective.
We would also like to add that we’ve been working with our local public school board and would support and reiterate the recommendation by the London Abused Women’s Centre that attention be given to including school boards as requiring sexual violence policies. We know that the rate of victimization peaks at the age of 15, so we can’t lose focus that the school-age bracket experiences sexual violence as well.
Also under schedules 3 and 5, institutions are required to collect data pertaining to, amongst other things, reported incidents and complaints of sexual violence, as well as efforts to raise student awareness of supports and services. We echo the recommendations from Western, Guelph and—as you’ll hear—the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children that data be collected through climate surveys and not through official counts of the number of times support services and accommodations were offered. We know that 78% of survivors don’t report sexual assaults. Reporting numbers don’t reflect the full scope of sexual violence on campus.
Finally, in regard to the requirement that institutions report on efforts to raise student awareness of supports and services, the Sexual Assault Centre London would recommend that institutions look to their community agencies and local sexual assault centres. As a public educator, I have been involved in many campaigns over my five years at the agency, targeting diverse population groups. While we don’t have all the answers in terms of best approaches to outreach campaigns, we’ve put in a lot of time and a lot of legwork to try out different avenues.
Again, let’s not reinvent the wheel; let’s work collaboratively. One example of a really successful collaboration around awareness-raising was the “I Know Someone” campaign between Changing Ways, the Sexual Assault Centre London and Western University. In 2010, it looked at increasing student awareness around the continuum of sexual violence and teaching bystander intervention skills. SACL supports and welcomes the inclusion by Western University and Fanshawe College to sit on their sexual violence campus committees, and we hope to foster future collaborative outreach efforts.
In conclusion, SACL seeks to further our relationships with our local post-secondary education institutions. We call for the authentic collaboration and inclusion of community agencies in the development of policies under schedules 3 and 5 and in the ongoing campus work towards preventing sexual violence.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much. That leaves us with three minutes per party. We start with the official opposition. Ms. Scott.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Thank you very much for your amendment considerations, especially on integration with the community services. I think that needs to be more explicit, I guess, in the bill than it is. I forget how explicit it is, but it’s a good thing to strengthen within the bill. Including the school boards: I like that too.
I’m going to segue, if I can: I’ve been working a lot on human trafficking. I wondered if you could comment on any issues you’ve dealt with, with human trafficking with Sexual Assault Centre London.
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell: Absolutely. The Sexual Assault Centre is part of a coalition in the region—the Coalition Assisting Trafficked Individuals—which the London Abused Women’s Centre is also a part of. We’ve really been looking at an approach that is, “Every door is the right door.” It’s not creating a new agency; it’s making all of our agencies able to respond to the issue, to recognize when it is a case of human trafficking or not, and then, what resources exist already locally to support that. Of course, there are some additional lenses to be brought to the issue, but we realized that we do have a lot of supports that are existing, and we just train folks to better connect those.
Ms. Laurie Scott: That’s good. It’s kind of relating to what we’re asking for: provincial networking of victims’ services and police. You’ve already done some great starts with that in the London area, so I want to praise you for that.
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Ms. Jones?
Ms. Sylvia Jones: I’ll follow up, if I may. I love the concept of “Every door is the right door.” I’m wondering if you are finding, as a group, that there are different resources or that a different approach needs to be taken when you have a survivor of human trafficking.
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell: There are definitely some safety considerations that are different, but one thing—I’m the trainer; that’s part of that coalition so I should centre myself in that. We understand human trafficking as being on a spectrum. There are many cases in which safety isn’t any different than it would be in a domestic violence situation, so there are a lot of parallels that we can draw from the safety assessment skill sets we have. There are considerations that are often brought in terms of the police and how they would navigate the law with that survivor-victim.
In terms of service providers, which is what our coalition is, we really do have most of the skill sets. It’s about understanding the experiences, having a bit of a different space that it came from, but in terms of supporting, these resources are existing.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): With that, you’re out of time.
Ms. Sylvia Jones: Okay. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): We’ll go on to the third party. Ms. Sattler?
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you so much for your presentation. I had a bit of a eureka moment when you were talking about student access to community resources. We’ve heard a lot about a climate survey today, and also in Peterborough, in relation to this legislation. Having a climate survey would collect data on those students who don’t have any interaction with campus-based services but who may only access a community resource. Not only is it better data qualitatively because of student confidentiality and comfort, but it also is richer data because it’s a much fuller picture. So thank you so much for that. I think that’s a really strong argument for the campus survey.
I was really interested in the University of Ottawa research report, which is something I wasn’t aware of. That was research that was conducted in 2014. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell: For sure. It was done in 2010.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Oh, 2010? Okay.
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell: The author was Julie Lalonde.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Oh, yes. We know Julie Lalonde.
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell: It was a qualitative report. She went about engaging with workers at different rape crisis centres as well as campus workers around the issue. There wasn’t direct engagement with survivors, but they were speaking on behalf of survivors as well as their experience in supporting.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: And then the other issue about the school boards reinforcing the earlier recommendation that we had: School boards already have safe school policies—a whole array. Is it your sense from the work that you do with students and the school boards that there is still a need for stand-alone sexual violence policies in addition to everything that’s already in place on the safe schools side?
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell: When I bring up the topic of sexual violence and our lens of consent on that topic, it’s uncomfortable in that space. That’s not something that folks are used to speaking about at those tables. Often we find—and I’ve had some really interesting conversations with our safe schools co ordinators locally—that there’s a real focus on bullying and we don’t look at what comes behind bullying. Bullying is a representation of all kinds of “isms”: homophobia, sexism. We need to get at the root causes of those, and one of those would be sexual violence. We use bullying as a tactic, but where is that coming from?
That uncomfortable conversation around sexual violence is not a norm that is happening, in my experience, in those school boards. That is something that we’re really pushing for, and that is new in that space.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: So even with the introduction of consent education, which now is something that the government has committed to bring forward—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry, Ms. Sattler, but you’ve run out of time.
We go to the government. Ms. Malhi?
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Thank you. I was actually going to get into that as well. I know you talked a little bit about school-aged children. It has always been one of the things that I like to talk about quite a bit.
How do you feel about some of the new changes that the curriculum will bring about? With the idea of talking about healthy relationships and consent through this new curriculum, what we’re looking to do is bring a generational change and build awareness from a young age.
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell: I’m excited by them. I think they’re great. I have had it reported to me that multiple teachers are uncomfortable with the topic and they don’t know how to mobilize the curriculum. They’re uncomfortable saying the lingo of, say, gender-queer or gender variations. I think having a policy that also supports that, sort of a stand-alone sexual violence policy, would also reiterate how strongly we are pursuing these efforts. It would also compel them to step beyond their discomfort and launch into the curriculum.
Ms. Harinder Malhi: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Ms. McGarry.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: I have a question about the Residential Tenancies Act. Do you feel that that will assist women who are trying to flee sexual or domestic violence at home, to be able to get out of their lease earlier?
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell: Noting on record that I don’t do a lot of work on domestic violence, I do think it would be helpful, yes.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you. And another question: Not all women or men are prepared to step forward right away to report. Do you think the removal of the statute of limitations over two years will assist those who will report in their own time?
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell: Over 70% of our counselling clients come to us with historical or over five years, in terms of their experience of sexual violence and sexual assaults. So, absolutely, I think that will be helpful as offering another option for them.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Are a large percentage of those folks wanting to go ahead and press charges, or do you find the number small?
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell: Small. It’s less than 10%.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: There was a suggestion that if court proceedings actually happened sooner rather than later, more of them may feel more comfortable to be able to go on to charge their attacker. Do you think that would be helpful?
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell: I think it would be one of many ways in which we could alleviate the awful experience of going through the court system, to present that to them going in, and that might help sway that that would be a more viable option. It might.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: More supports around the court system: Is that helpful to victims? Are they more likely to go through with the proceedings if they have somebody to support them during that period of time?
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell: I want to just shift that question and state that it’s always victim-centric and survivor-centric, so I don’t want it to always have the goal that they go through that system.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Oh, I realize that.
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell: But I do think that having more options that seem more comforting to them would increase how many pursue the legal route.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say that you’re out of time. Thank you very much.
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell: Thank you.
Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Our next presenter, then, is the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children. As you probably heard, you have up to 10 minutes to present, followed by questions. If you would introduce yourself for Hansard.
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: I’m Barb MacQuarrie, and I’m the community director at the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children.
The Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children is committed to the development and application of knowledge for the prevention of violence against women and children through promoting innovative, collaborative and equality-seeking initiatives.
We facilitate the collaboration of individuals, groups and institutions representing the diversity of our community to pursue research questions and training opportunities to understand and prevent violence and abuse.
We serve local, national and international communities by producing useful information and tools to assist in the daily work to prevent and stop violence towards women and children and vulnerable adults.
I’m going to refer to us as CREVAWC, because the name is too long.
We fully support the efforts and the intention of the government of Ontario to protect Ontarians from the devastating impacts of sexual violence, sexual harassment and domestic violence, and the desire to achieve a fair and equitable society through It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment.
Bill 132 is an essential element of the action plan, and we commend the government for introducing these measures. We also thank the government for this opportunity to provide input into the legislation.
I have a written submission which is more detailed than what I’m going to present orally. I’m just going to address two sections that are of most importance to me.
I hadn’t planned on speaking to the piece about the sexual violence policy. It’s in my written submission. But I would just say briefly that I do support having a policy that applies to every member of campus—students, staff and faculty. In fact, the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires a policy, but it doesn’t give any specifics about how that policy is to be written or where it is to be held, so the same policy could serve more than one purpose, in my opinion. Everybody on campus deserves support. Why would we ignore certain members of campus when we’re thinking about a policy?
I wanted to speak to schedule 3 and schedule 5, the point about information for the minister and information for superintendents in the private colleges.
We recommend that the information to be collected and provided to the minister in the case of publicly funded colleges and universities, or to the superintendent in the case of private career colleges, be collected through climate surveys, not through official counts of the number of times supports, services and accommodations relating to sexual violence are requested and obtained by students enrolled at the college, university or private career college, and not through official counts of the number of incidents and complaints of sexual violence reported by students.
Our rationale is that, while we support the need to collect this information, the method used to collect the information will determine both its validity and its usefulness. This recommendation is of particular concern, so I am going to provide a somewhat lengthy and evidence-based rationale for our position. All my citations are in the written support.
The Council of Ontario Universities is working on recommendations for a climate survey. A sector-wide climate survey is an important tool for benchmarking the incidence of sexual violence as well as understanding and addressing campus climate. While allowing for the collection of data about sexual violence in a consistent manner across campuses and universities, it can be customized to respect the unique services, supports and structures of each campus. It will produce far more reliable information than counting formal and informal incidents, complaints and service use. Collecting data from official sources can lead to investing resources in ineffective and inefficient bureaucratic processes that do nothing to decrease sexual violence or provide better services to survivors.
Research findings from the Canadian Department of Justice serve as a caution for relying on data obtained from formal reports to police or other campus authorities. They reveal that victims do not report incidents of sexual violence to police for many reasons, including:
—They dealt with the incident in another way.
—They didn’t deem it to be important enough.
—They considered it to be a personal matter.
—They did not want police involved.
—They felt that police could not do anything about it.
—They believed that police would not help them.
—They feared revenge by the offender.
—They sought to avoid publicity regarding the incident.
The Department of Justice acknowledges that with 70% of sexual assaults not being reported to police, sexual assault is among the crimes which are least likely to be reported.
They also give information about relying on numbers from campus counselling and support services, and suggest that they would not provide a reliable estimate of sexual assaults and violations. In addition to the fact that a survivor may choose to disclose to a service or source of support off campus—as you pointed out, Peggy—many survivors will not disclose at all, and others will only disclose long after the incident has occurred.
Factors associated with not disclosing include the victim’s use of drugs and/or alcohol and the victim’s belief that professionals will not be helpful to them because their rape experience does not match stereotypical conceptions of rape, such as involving a stranger, a weapon, and severe injury.
Delayed disclosure is associated with closeness to the assailant, as indicated by the assailant being a boyfriend, family member, or mentor; a history of childhood sexual assault; completed rape; and avoidance coping.
To emphasize the futility of collecting data through formal university channels, the US White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, in a 2014 report, conceded that “Survivors typically do not disclose sexual assault to formal support providers (law enforcement, campus administrators, crisis centres). Campus estimates suggest ... 6% disclose to law enforcement and 4% to campus authorities.”
Reporting on numbers of women who use counselling and other supportive services is ethically very questionable. Most women only disclose when they are confident their confidentiality will be respected. Reporting any information from counselling and support services may discourage women from coming forward. Again, the US White House reminds us of why absolute confidentiality is so important to survivors. They say:
“There are many common reasons why survivors do not disclose to professionals, including fear of others knowing about the assault and wanting to keep it private. This suggests that confidentiality is a requirement for many survivors to disclose. As a result, support services that are not confidential may not be used.
“Survivors report shame, stigma and embarrassment after an assault. Confidential spaces may be perceived as safer for initial reporting.
“Confidentiality is a cornerstone of mental health treatment. There are many reasons for this, including that individuals seeking help often need to discuss very personal and private details of their lives and feel more comfortable doing so confidentially. Similarly, sexual assault survivors must also talk about intensely personal aspects of their lives that they may not have shared with anyone else. Confidentiality helps build trust that personal information can be shared safely.”
Collecting and reporting on data about sexual violence on campuses from authorities, including law enforcement, campus administrators and/or supportive services, risks inadvertently penalizing those institutions that are doing the most to address the problem of sexual violence. In fact, more reporting is good. Again, the White House illuminates this point:
“For colleges and universities, breaking the cycle of violence poses a unique challenge. When a school tries to tackle the problem—by acknowledging it, drawing attention to it, and encouraging survivors to report—it can start to look like a dangerous place. On the flip side, when a school ignores the problem or discourages reporting (either actively or by treating survivors without care), it can look safer. Add to this the competition for top students or a coveted spot on a college rankings list and a school might think it can outshine its neighbor by keeping its problem in the shadows.
“We have to change that dynamic.
“Schools have to get credit for being honest and for finding out what’s really happening on campus.”
I’ve emphasized this: “Reports to authorities, as we know, don’t provide a fair measure of the problem. But a campus climate survey can. When done right, these surveys can gauge the prevalence of sexual assault on campus, test students’ attitudes and awareness about the issue, and provide schools with an invaluable tool for crafting solutions.”
It behooves us to look to the experience of the USA, where officials have used the Clery Act to require colleges and universities to report numbers of sexual assaults reported to them. The Clery Act’s primary purpose is to require college administrators to report on all forms of campus crime, including sexual assault. Specifically, the objectives are to provide consistent crime information so that parents, potential students and potential employees will be better able to evaluate an institution before they make a commitment to it; to educate students and employees about campus crime so they might better protect themselves from the risks of their campus environment; and to reduce crime.
However, researchers have concluded that victim advocates, law enforcement, housing and residence life, and judicial officers, students and their parents, and senior student affairs officers agree that this required reporting does little—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Ms. MacQuarrie, I’m sorry to say you’ve used up your time.
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: I’m sorry.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): It’s not a problem. First questions go to the NDP. Ms. Sattler.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you very much, Barb, for your presentation.
I’d like to ask you about your thoughts on amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and what kind of recommendations you would like to bring forward to us.
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: Thank you for the opportunity. My biggest concern about that would be the issue of mandatory training, which you discussed earlier. I think it’s absolutely critical. Without training and education in workplaces, we will never be able to address either sexual violence or domestic violence. I think that the training requirements need to apply both to the issue of sexual violence and domestic violence.
Somebody has mentioned previously that at the Centre for Research we have been working since 2010 on a workplace education program. We’ve trained over 500 workplaces in Ontario and quite a few outside of Ontario. We have evaluation data from that training. I’d be happy to share it. Generally, I can say that what happens is that it’s very difficult to get into a workplace, but once we do, what employers say is, “We didn’t know what we didn’t know.” and “Thank you very much.” We’ve had very, very positive feedback and reception of the training. But without a mandatory requirement to do training, I don’t think that employers are really going to get on board.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Okay. And quickly—the climate survey that is being worked on by the Council of Ontario Universities: Do you think that that would be suitable in a college setting, as well as a university setting?
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: Yes.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: And also, is your recommendation that it be conducted annually and be a population survey rather than sample, which is what we heard earlier?
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: Yes, annually, and in larger universities it may have to be a population sample. But I think that the COU expert panel is making very detailed recommendations. I think it’s really worthwhile looking at those. People who are experts in survey research, in sexual violence, have the idea of a consistent survey that could be customized to reflect the reality of each university. Each university will have different services; there would be an opportunity to reflect that within a campus climate survey.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: For colleges as well as universities?
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: Yes, for colleges as well as universities.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Okay. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Ms. Sattler, because we had less than five minutes, you can ask another question.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Oh, excellent. Sorry. I didn’t realize that.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I should have been clearer.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: To go back to the Occupational Health and Safety Act: You mentioned the special enforcement team of inspectors in your written presentation. Can you elaborate a little bit more about that?
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: The Occupational Health and Safety Act was just changed in 2010, and before that we only dealt with physical hazards. Relationship violence is new, and we’ve heard today how complex these issues are. If we don’t train inspectors, they’re not going to be able to enforce legislation.
Ontario has the most progressive legislation in the world on occupational health and safety to deal with domestic violence, but the implementation is very, very weak. We need training on this. Inspectors are, frankly, uncomfortable with the issue, as are many, many other people, and until we sit down and figure out how we’re actually going to implement this and hold employers accountable, we’re not going to make any headway.
That segues into the need to have education. In occupational health and safety, the more authority you have, the more responsibility you have, so training and education should mirror that; the more authority you have and the more responsibility you have, the more in-depth your training should be. But everybody in the workplace needs the basics of being able to recognize a warning sign, being able to talk about that warning sign and knowing where to refer, both inside the workplace and outside to the community of resources.
That’s the basic structure of the training that we offer. We have everything from two-day intensive to one-hour basic, with lots of options in between.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: I think this committee would be interested in—you said you have evaluation data about the results or outcomes associated with the training that has been delivered in 500 workplaces in Ontario?
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: Yes.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: If you could bring that, that would be great.
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: Sure, I could do that.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you for your presentation.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Our next presenter, then, is the University of Western Ontario. As I’m sure you’ve heard, you have up to 10 minutes to present. That will be followed by questions. If you’d introduce yourself for Hansard, and then proceed.
Ms. Angela Treglia: I’m Angela Treglia. I represent Western University as their sexual violence prevention and education coordinator.
Mr. Chair and members of the Standing Committee on Social Policy, on behalf of my colleagues and the entire Western community, thank you for the opportunity to speak today. Western supports the Ontario government’s Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act, the legislation proposed by Bill 132, and the proposed regulations under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act. We commend the intentions to create positive change and eradicate sexual violence and harassment.
Western, too, has an unwavering commitment to prevent sexual violence and support individuals who have been impacted by sexual violence, through a survivor-centric model. Western has a reputation for being a leader in sexual violence prevention and education. For the last 11 years, Western has included a keynote speaker on the topic of sexual violence during orientation week, which we introduced to Canada and is now the norm across campus.
As you will hear later on, our public education campaigns, such as our “upstander” training program, have received provincial recognition. Western will continue to take steps and incorporate best practices that reflect the needs of our campus community and continue to share our knowledge and programs with the rest of our sector.
Western has made significant strides towards our commitment. To highlight this commitment, here are some of the many successful initiatives taking place at Western.
Introduced in September 2014, Western was one of the first Canadian institutions to adopt a stand-alone sexual violence policy and procedures. It is the foundation of our commitment to providing and maintaining an environment in which sexual violence is not tolerated.
Western has an established sexual violence prevention and education committee which includes representation from across campus and within the London community, as you heard earlier today. We coordinate efforts on sexual violence prevention and education for students, staff and faculty members.
Student representation plays an integral role on this committee. Students help craft sexual violence initiatives and are regularly included in discussion. Our Society of Graduate Students has already talked to you about our successful initiative, the consent and compassion forum.
Western has a professional staff member specifically dedicated to this work. As the sexual violence prevention education coordinator, I collaborate with community partners to develop strategies around sexual violence prevention on campus. I work with undergraduate and graduate student survivors of sexual violence to provide support, referrals and resources when necessary.
Western’s department of housing has created several awareness videos that have been shared across campus. Most recently, they partnered with the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children to create our Cycling Through Consent video, which has reached over two million people and has gone global.
Rooted in bystander intervention theory, Western developed their “upstander” training program to create a strong culture of looking out for one another on and off campus. There has been widespread provincial interest in this program. It has been shared at regional housing, student life and campus security conferences. Multiple campuses across Ontario have adopted this program, such as Carleton University, Sault College and the University of Winnipeg. Western has received a generous grant from the Ontario Women’s Directorate to fund the expansion of this project across Ontario campuses.
Western has several forms of on-campus supports for survivors of sexual violence. Our student health services, student development centre, equity and human rights services, wellness education centre, residence counselling and the department of housing provide a wide variety of supports for survivors and those looking to support survivors.
Campus Community Police Service, residence staff and residence life management provide a 24/7 response. Western has a long-standing relationship with the Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre, out of St. Joe’s hospital, to provide counselling and support to survivors after hours.
Again, Western supports Bill 132 and the proposed regulations. With that said, university and college campuses need to balance institutional and legislative compliance with providing a compassionate response. There are components of the legislation and the regulations put forth that compromise our commitment to a survivor-centric approach.
In a survivor-centric model, it is critical that survivors be afforded the choice and opportunity to (1) formally report an incident of sexual violence to the university, which then would involve formal follow-up, or (2) disclose an experience of sexual violence in confidence to a support person on campus, who can provide various options to the survivor.
The language throughout the bill references incidents and complaints, but not disclosures. As it stands now, there is no recognition of the distinction between reporting an incident of sexual violence and disclosing an experience of sexual violence.
Bill 132 will require that universities report the number of incidents and complaints of sexual violence by students, and information about such incidents and complaints, to the minister. As we have heard from lots of fellow colleagues this morning, Western, too, endorses and supports the use of a campus climate survey to meet these reporting expectations.
By not using a campus climate survey and expecting offices and departments to report numbers, this practice may threaten the survivors’ ability to choose if, how, where and to whom their experience of sexual violence gets shared, depending on the level of information that is expected to be reported.
Reporting any information from confidential services, such as counselling services, may discourage a survivor from coming forward for fear that others will find out about the incident or having to retell their experience. Any mention of reporting, even just a number, removes the agency away from the survivor, whose trust and power have already been stripped from them.
Requiring universities to report on disclosures of sexual violence will remove their ability to provide survivors access to fully confidential on-campus services, such as counselling and health care. It’s important to balance survivor privacy, confidentiality and professionals’ rules of conduct. This will need to be considered when setting out reporting expectations. It’s imperative that legislation recognizes the difference between the acts of reporting and disclosure on university campuses.
If institutions are required to collect data from official sources, there is a strong likelihood that it will increase inaccurate findings and misrepresentation of the current state on campus, like we’ve heard already.
One incident of sexual violence could be reflected more than once, if support from multiple service providers is sought out. For example, a survivor may disclose an experience of sexual violence to their residence adviser, an on-campus physician and an academic counsellor. In the interests of privacy, these services do not share information unless requested by the survivor. Therefore, it would not be possible to determine if the survivor has reported an incident of sexual violence in multiple places. As it stands now with the proposed legislation, this one incident of sexual violence could appear as three separate incidents.
We recommend that reported information be collected through a consistent campus climate survey used across universities in Ontario. Data collected from the campus survey would then meet the reporting requirements proposed in the bill while at the same time maintain survivor confidentiality and allow the survivor the choice about what happens to their experience and how they choose to share that information.
A climate survey allows for the opportunity to dig deeper into the attitudes, experiences and behaviours around sexual violence on campus. The climate survey will also define the scope around reporting. For example, did the act of sexual violence take place on or off campus? Is the act recent or future? Are services utilized due to immediate assistance needed or a recurrence of difficult memories?
As Barb mentioned, the Council of Ontario Universities is working on recommendations for a climate survey. We encourage you to seek their input when developing or making such recommendations.
Bill 132 requires that universities have a sexual violence policy that “solely addresses sexual violence involving students enrolled at the college or university.” Like you’ve also heard today, we encourage and recommend that that definition be expanded to include all members of campus communities: staff and faculty. Often, students’ roles on campus are interconnected as many hold part-time employment with the university. Working in residence life for the past eight years, where we employ over 300 students, I’ve experienced how student and employee roles can be easily intertwined. In order to be employed as a residence adviser, you’re required also to be a full-time student.
By explicitly focusing on the policy for students only, it means that a survivor may encounter a different response based on their relationship with the university. This adds further complexity when different affiliations intersect. A survivor-centric policy would ensure that a consistent, timely and high standard of response and support for all survivors is had. I think it’s important to mention again that it’s about providing those choices and those options and about removing and limiting any barriers that a survivor may encounter. When there’s inconsistency or confusion around what to do with the information, those barriers are put up. What we want is for survivors to be able to have that access.
Finally, there’s an opportunity to develop further collaborative relationships between the university and campus agencies. We recognize that strengthened relationships with local community agencies, research centres and treatment centres will result in greater demand for their services, which may result in greater resource scarcity. We urge the government to commit to ensuring adequate resources are provided to community partners and directed to support the projected increase in demand for their services. Thank you for your time.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much. In keeping with our agreed policy, since we’ve hit the below-five-minute mark, these five minutes go to you, because we’ve had the Liberals and the NDP both get their full five minutes. Ms. Jones.
Ms. Sylvia Jones: I just have one question and then I’m going to let my colleague go. Many presenters today have made reference to the climate survey. I’m wondering if we can step back. I’m interested in your comments on whether a climate survey is going to be a useful tool for a family, a young person, who’s making a decision on which post-secondary institution they wish to attend.
Ms. Angela Treglia: I don’t have children and I haven’t had to make those decisions as a family, so I’m hesitant to speak on behalf of families. I think the key point with the campus climate survey is that it is recommended that it be consistent across campuses. I think the primary purpose of it is not necessarily to inform decisions or as a recruitment tool. The primary purpose of it would be to inform the community that it is working to end sexual violence on campuses—the staff and the administration and the faculty—and to identify gaps and really have a solid understanding of what’s going on on campus so that we can, as a university and college community across Ontario, work together to eradicate this problem.
It’s not just an issue on campuses, as we know. The legislation expands past campuses. It’s an issue in society wherever you go. What you see on a college campus you’ll see anywhere else as well, so I don’t know that that would be the purpose per se.
Ms. Sylvia Jones: I agree. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head: that the climate survey is more about a tool to assist legislators and individuals working in the field to improve the situation. It is not a tool that would assist a student or a family member looking at three choices and trying to decide where they want to attend. Thank you.
I’ll turn it over to you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Ms. Scott.
Ms. Laurie Scott: The services that are available on campus—and then we’ve heard from community groups and there seems to be an integration with the universities and the community resources. If someone approached whoever in your university—I know you have one full-time faculty. They approach the person at the university. Did they engage community services right away? What if they decided to go through a formal complaint, or just disclosure? Tell me how that works, because we’ve heard mentioned that with outside services—it’s more of a confidentiality security that they offer. Just take me through what happens.
Ms. Angela Treglia: Sure. Like I mentioned, Western, along with many other campuses, takes a survivor-centric model. What that means is that it’s about a survivor’s choice. When we experience a disclosure of sexual violence, what we will do is we’ll sit there, we’ll be present with the survivor and we’ll let them lead the conversation. When the moment is right, we will provide options and resources that are available on campus, in the local community, and options for formal reporting through campus police. What we don’t do is go and mandate that that survivor needs to go and speak with a specific service or they need to report. It’s about having the survivor make choices.
When someone experiences sexual violence, that power has been taken away and stripped from them. The least we can do is to provide that agency back into their hands. They have the choice about how they want to proceed and which resources they wish to seek out. We provide them with the options that are available. We will sit there and make phone calls, should they wish us to, or they can take that upon themselves as well.
Ms. Laurie Scott: If the individual student, say, goes to an outside service first, then there doesn’t have to be any reporting?
Ms. Angela Treglia: No. Services in the community are fully confidential. St. Joe’s hospital, SACL: They’re not going to call Western and tell us.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Right.
Ms. Angela Treglia: That’s also why the campus climate survey is helpful. Like Peggy had mentioned as well, and AnnaLise from SACL, it will help provide a greater picture of those who reach out to off-campus supports as well but may be affiliated with the Western community as a student.
Ms. Laurie Scott: The issue of an assault being counted multiple times because they’ve gone to different agencies or different resources within the university: Do you not feel that there would be—I don’t know how to do that differently, but—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry, Ms. Scott, but you’re out of time.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Like “person A”?
Ms. Angela Treglia: I don’t think that will happen because they will be self-disclosing, so they will only disclose their incident.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say you’re out of time. Thank you very much for your presentation.
University Students’ Council, Western University
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): The next presenter: University Students’ Council, University of Western Ontario. As you’ve heard, you have up to 10 minutes to present followed by questions. If you would introduce yourself for Hansard.
Ms. Sophie Helpard: Hi, there. My name is Sophie Helpard and I am the president and CEO of the University Students’ Council at Western University, which represents all 30,000 undergraduate students on campus. Thank you for allowing me to present on what I consider to be one of the largest issues facing university campuses across the country.
As a female student, and for the past few years as a prominent student leader on campus, this issue is very close to my heart. This comes with its challenges; however, it does allow me to be an advocate for issues like sexual violence on campus.
Before jumping into recommendations, I would like to give some context on my role in sexual violence education and prevention on Western’s campus. The University Students’ Council operates a sexual health and consent service for our students, to give awareness to the issues and promote initiatives such as the peer support centre, which is a centre, in partnership with Western, that provides peer-to-peer counselling and resource connection to students. This is our commitment to the reality that students have the right to access support from professional services on campus and in our community but also the right to access peer support, where they value empathy, and as a starting point for resource connection. This service has become a hallmark of our campus in combatting issues like sexual violence.
As mentioned in Western’s presentation, we also facilitate and champion an orientation and year-long program commended for the role of student leaders in the prevention of and education on sexual violence.
Through a long history of advocacy from the USC, we’ve also built a strong relationship with the university administration. The USC has representation on the sexual violence prevention and education steering committee. We have a consultative and resource partnership with administration in our services and the peer support centre. As the chief advocate for students, I feel that the university does value and implement student input on the issue. When a campus faces an issue this large, it requires all stakeholders to work together in solving it, and I’m confident in reporting that this collaboration is alive and well on Western’s campus.
I would now like to highlight multiple policy concerns and recommendations on the bill for your consideration. The first is the need for the bill to address universality. Consideration must be given to the reality that students are not just students on modern university campuses. The bill should recognize that sexual violence policies on campus should address all members of the community, including students, staff and faculty members. Many students, as you’ve heard, work and volunteer on campus, and all relationships that they hold with the institution should be recognized within the policy.
In a very personal example, I personally would not be recognized in the policy because student executives in my role are full-time employees who are usually in the job post their year of graduation. This means that myself and my peers are no longer students of the university and would not be covered under such policies. I spoke about how close this issue is to my heart, and it is a difficult pill to swallow—the student-only focus of the recommendations proposed when these realities do exist.
The second recommendation is on a specific note on the clause that states that students’ feedback should be considered. I would assert that it is required for institutions to “implement” student feedback, so that partnerships as strong as the one we’ve built at Western would be a standard rather than an outlier. I know this might seem like a simple language change; however, it does impact the way that student associations interact with our university administration.
The third comment is around the reporting of sexual violence, which I understand to be addressed in schedules 3 and 5. I echo the recommendations that Western and CREVAWC have provided: that a climate survey is a preferred method of reporting. In my opinion, one of the largest barriers to solving sexual violence on campuses is—reducing stigma. My job is to try to do so for my fellow students, but I have heard countless times from students that their hesitation with reporting and support puts up another barrier that we cannot afford. The university’s recommendation on climate surveys is wholeheartedly endorsed by the undergraduate students at Western.
The final note is simply on the feasibility of the Premier’s sexual violence action plan. As a student association, we have a stake and are already contributing to finding a solution. Our recommendation, however, would be that, as the necessary funding and resource-distribution reaches institutions to implement these policies, student associations also be valued to contribute through the availability of grant funding for student-driven causes. We believe this to be a foundation for student support at Western.
I’d like to note that the Maclean’s student opinion surveys, in their most recent reveal of university rankings, noted that Western ranked number one for student perception on the steps that the university was taking to prevent sexual assault on campus. This makes me proud of my institution but, at the same time, concerned when I understand the reality that still exists in my daily work on campus. If this is the reality of an institution that currently ranks number one in student opinion, we have a province- and, frankly, country-wide problem.
In conclusion, I feel that my role here today is to speak on behalf of students at Western and maybe even undergraduate students across the province. I must provide the student experience on campus and educate the committee on what role student associations are playing in this process. I also use this opportunity to provide recommendations and places for further consideration and hopefully echo many of the responses from Western University.
I would also like to note that my presentation is recognized and influenced by the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, of which the University Student Council of Western is an enthusiastic member school. The USC has chosen not to include a written submission, but I would like to repeat my endorsement of both the Western University submission and the upcoming submission by the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance.
Thank you for your time.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much for your presentation.
We go to the government. Mrs. McGarry.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you very much for your presentation today. We’ve heard from all points that the University of Western Ontario is certainly a leader in these policy developments, and I really commend you for the work that you’re doing.
Part of what we’re trying to do as a government, as a province and on these committees is ensure that people are getting the message that sexual violence and harassment against anybody, including university students, is totally unacceptable.
I know that we’ve heard a lot today about the climate survey, and I’ll come back to that. The government has committed to ongoing work in terms of developing a reporting policy for universities. From what I’m hearing, the climate survey would help to ensure that that reporting is in context or has a contextual component. Can you expand further on how you feel that would go forward in ensuring that the universities actually comply with the reporting that will be coming?
Ms. Sophie Helpard: Yes, absolutely. I’m happy to echo a lot of what’s already been said by both CREVAWC and Western. As mentioned, I do think my role here is to speak about how students feel about these policies and how students feel about them coming forward. I do think, as I mentioned, the difficulties that have been spoken about in reporting of students to these issues mean that not only do the individuals directly affected by the incidents have difficulty reporting, it also doesn’t lead to a greater understanding of the university community as a whole.
Speaking on behalf of the students who might not have directly been affected by sexual violence on campus, they certainly have the right to a proper climate survey of their institution so that they can understand the realities that other students on campus are experiencing. I do think that is an important fact in remembering the whole of our community and the fact that it will take the efforts of the whole to actually solve these problems. So for that reason, I do believe that the climate survey is a much more responsible method in educating the community as well as actually helping the survivors of sexual violence.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: The recent ads on It’s Never Okay and also the #WhoWillYouHelp hashtag campaign: Do you find those helpful in spreading the word to all students that this is unacceptable behaviour?
Ms. Sophie Helpard: Yes. I do appreciate that specific campaign’s use of things like social media to attract the attention of university students and young people in general. Yes, I would endorse any campaign or any promotion of that nature.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: And further to that: In terms of orientation, do you think that the education and first-year orientation is helpful to try to prevent sexual violence and harassment amongst the student population?
Ms. Sophie Helpard: Yes. Previous to my role as president, I was the steward of the orientation program at Western, and I can say confidently that it is now thought to be a foundational part of a student’s education in that sexual violence should be on the top list of concerns. Through an orientation program, you work to address Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from the bottom up in terms of making sure that, first, students can find their way to the cafeteria and, second, that they are aware of many of the things that will keep them healthy on campus. I’m glad that sexual violence is now at the forefront—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say that you’ve run out of time.
We go to the official opposition. Ms. Scott?
Ms. Laurie Scott: Okay. I’ll try to follow up on what MPP McGarry was saying. In orientation week you have the mandatory video that was mentioned earlier, which everyone sees, and it’s being duplicated in other universities—so great for Western University and your involvement in that.
On the student representation in the proposed legislation, are you comfortable that that is going to work well? I say “work well.” Is there anything you’d like to amend or change, or do you think that will be adequate, as it’s laid out in Bill 132?
Ms. Sophie Helpard: To speak to a little of the point I made earlier, I do think that Western is leading in the collaboration that exists between the student association and the university. I can’t speak to the realities of other universities and their relationships. However, I would say that as far as the bill addresses it, we are happy with the student representation piece, other than the language change, that student feedback would need to be implemented rather than just considered. Also, as I mentioned, another piece of that is that as funding and resource allocation happens for a lot of these initiatives, we hope some of that rests in student associations rather than just in the university institution itself.
Ms. Laurie Scott: I agree with your amendments. We’ve heard consistently to include students, staff and faculty members, so I think that’s been a very good take-away.
When we were talking about the climate survey, which has been a very hot topic, it was mentioned that you would get more response from the climate survey. We’re trying to track, as the ministry is trying to track—we’re trying to make more accountability of tracking, a reporting mechanism for incidents that occur, and we’re trying to do it in a way that helps address the issues.
I’m listening to the climate survey argument. Do you think that because there aren’t numbers attached—I’ve heard about the reporting and how there can be duplication, but can you kind of strengthen that argument a little bit, or add a little bit more to the climate survey proposal that has been consistently heard from universities?
Ms. Sophie Helpard: Yes, absolutely. I don’t pretend to be an expert in administering climate surveys, but will say that, like I mentioned, it is a powerful tool of education. Not only can it be used by the government to actually assess universities; it can also be used by the community for education.
I think one important point when talking about the climate survey on campus is that students generally can judge how their campus is performing by things like the availability of resources and by individual students’ stories shared by their fellow classmates and peers. I do think it’s important that the climate survey be a piece that is—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say that you’re out of time with this question.
We go on to the third party. Ms. Sattler?
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you very much, Sophie, for being here today, for your advocacy on this issue and for your participation in Western’s initiative and leadership.
In the section that talks about student input, currently the wording is that the institution “shall ensure that student input is considered, in accordance with any regulations....” Your recommendation is that it should say “student input is implemented,” in accordance with regulations.
Do you have any advice about what is meaningful student input? Is it the involvement of the student association, the elected student leaders? What does that look like on the ground at an institutional level?
Ms. Sophie Helpard: I would always, given my role, defer to the elected chief advocate for students on each campus—at Western, as an example, it would be the president of the University Students’ Council and the president of the Society of Graduate Students—to be that valued student input, or their delegates.
We do find merit in general student feedback for all initiatives that the university undertakes, in the sense that there are student leaders in our residence communities, in our volunteer communities and in our faculty communities. However, we do feel that, as mentioned, the chief advocates for students, who were elected to do so, the student associations, should be the first point of contact for the institution when looking for decisions.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Currently the legislation suggests that a review and update every three years is appropriate. Do you agree with that? In Peterborough, we heard a recommendation that a more frequent review would be better. Do you have any input on that one?
Ms. Sophie Helpard: I would never advocate to make it less frequent; I would always advocate to make it as frequent as possible. But understanding the restrictions and constraints of our university community and of external partners needed to complete these kinds of reviews, I can speak on the fact that I am content with the three-year deadline.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Okay. You mentioned the Maclean’s ranking survey. I actually didn’t know that they had modified their survey to include a question about student perceptions of sexual violence.
This climate survey that many presenters have talked about: Do you see this being reported publicly, kind of like that Maclean’s survey, where it would have the results of the survey, institution by institution, available for people to review across the province?
Ms. Sophie Helpard: Yes. I think that is absolutely a right for students, to be able to compare their institutions on things like a climate survey. In addition, though, I do want to make a note that I am happy with the way that Maclean’s chose to do their ranking, in the sense that it was very much based on student perception rather than on their metrics that they use for other rankings.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Okay. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): And with that, we’re out of time. Thank you very much for your presentation.
Ms. Sophie Helpard: Thank you.
Wilfrid Laurier University
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): We go now to Wilfrid Laurier University. As you have probably heard, you have up to 10 minutes to present, followed by questions. If you’d introduce yourselves for Hansard.
Mr. David McMurray: Thank you very much. I’m David McMurray, vice-president, student affairs, at Wilfrid Laurier University, and I’m the institutional designate for our efforts to eradicate all forms of gender violence. I’m also serving as the chair of the COU’s reference group on sexual violence. I’m here to support Lynn Kane, our coordinator of the gendered violence task force at Laurier, and to provide assistance with any questions. Lynn?
Ms. Lynn Kane: Thank you for inviting us to present. Wilfrid Laurier University applauds the government of Ontario for the leadership they have shown with Bill 132 and with the sexual violence and harassment action plan more broadly.
In my role at Laurier, coordinating the gendered violence task force and chairing the steering committee, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know student activists, feminist professors, administrative advocates and colleagues in the community who have been working for change in this area for a very long time. These people inspire me on a daily basis. Their hard work is fuelled by a deep care and compassion for the survivors in the community, and is also sometimes fuelled by frustration—frustration because, despite their hard work, sexual violence and harassment are still prevalent problems, and frustration because of systems within institutions that have made reporting, seeking supports and learning about sexual violence more difficult than it ought to be.
At Laurier, we are wholly and unwaveringly committed to making things better for survivors of sexual violence and harassment, and for that reason we fully support the spirit of Bill 132. Much of what is in Bill 132 reassures us that the work that we’re doing is on the right track. The institutionally supported gendered violence task force is made up of students, staff, faculty and community members across our Laurier campuses in Kitchener, Waterloo and Brantford.
We applaud the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act for its focus on students and its requirement for student involvement. This is something we believe in very strongly. The gendered violence task force was formed in response to an open letter that a group of students in a women and gender studies class wrote to the administration, calling for the university to do more with respect to gendered violence. Since then, we’ve stepped up and over 150 people have gotten involved in this work in some way.
The task force is divided into a steering committee, senior leadership group and five working groups focused on research and assessment; training and education; policy and protocol; supports and services; and awareness and communications.
The steering committee and working groups all include or involve students in some way. Our research and assessment working group, for example, has created opportunities for students to receive small grants to go toward research on gendered violence on campus and has recently funded four projects: student researchers will be looking at the social costs of confronting sexism in STEM fields; how trans and gender non-conforming students experience gendered violence on our campuses; attitudes toward women on our campuses; and the psychological impact of gendered threats on the campus community. All of this research will come back to the task force and inform our work.
We are also proud to have collaborated closely with a group of students, the Advocates for a Student Culture of Consent, or ASCC for short, to draft a gendered and sexual violence policy. In fact, this group of students wrote the first draft of our new policy, and they continue to work with the task force as we move forward and focus our work on response protocols.
Our policy was set to go to our board of governors in November for approval, but we paused because Bill 132 requires that policies specifically and solely focus on students. I think that we agree with the intentions behind this. However, we also feel that students would be best supported by a policy inclusive of the whole campus community.
We currently have a non-academic student code of conduct which covers sexual violence perpetrated by students and a workplace violence, harassment and discrimination policy which covers sexual violence perpetrated by faculty or staff. The questions that come up right now are: Do residence dons fall under student or staff policies? When a perpetrator is a faculty member, how do students know which policy to consult? When our students drafted our new distinct gendered and sexual violence policy, it was important to them that it apply to everyone on campus so that the answers to these questions would be as clear as possible to survivors trying to navigate complicated university systems.
The policy we have drafted also emphasizes a survivor’s right to choice—choice in terms of accommodations, supports, and reporting and disclosure options. We state that all survivors have the right to be integral decision-makers in situations pertaining to themselves. Survivors and our local sexual assault support centres have told us that this is incredibly important for people coming forward and seeking support.
One way that we work to ensure that survivors have choices when accessing supports is by working closely with our community partners. Many of our students choose to seek supports from the Sexual Assault Centre of Brant and the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region. Especially because of our relatively intimate campuses, we know that it may be more comfortable for students to access help away from campus or from an arm’s-length support provider.
In Brantford, we have a service level agreement with the Sexual Assault Centre to help them help us. A staff member there spends 20 hours a week on campus as a counsellor and advocate.
In Kitchener-Waterloo, we are working on providing more resources to our local agency. Since student awareness of gendered and sexual violence has grown in our community, so has student need for counselling and 24-hour crisis support. The Sexual Assault Support Centre estimates that post-secondary students from the college and universities in our region make up 40% of their 24-hour support line phone calls, 25% of their counselling caseload, and one fifth of their public education resources.
We cannot support these agencies on our own. We need the government’s assistance in ensuring that local sexual assault support centres have adequate resources to continue the great work that they do so that survivors can always choose who they want to ask for help.
Confidentiality is another primary need of survivors. Last year, a student came into my office with a cellphone to her ear. She came to see me because some level of trust had been established between her and I, and she had a friend on the line who had experienced some form of sexual violence. This friend did not want to share any information whatsoever about who they were or about what had happened. This friend did not even want to be seen. They wanted to make sure that they could make inquiries entirely confidentially, and they wanted to seek supports.
Through their friend, I made the bare minimum of inquiries: What type of support was she seeking, internal or external? I provided a referral and I made a connection between her and another support service. Though I did not interact with this student directly, it was clear to me that they were exercising an extremely great deal of caution in seeking help. I am deeply concerned that if I had been required to record any information at all, the student and her friend might not have sought help from me.
We believe that survivors have a right to confidentiality and that they should be free to make inquiries and receive information with no record made of it if they so choose. One way to do this would be to make a distinction between formal reports and informal disclosures to allow survivors complete confidentiality and control when they are seeking supports or more information about their options.
We support the spirit of the legislation in relation to reporting and we believe that information about the nature and extent of the problem is incredibly important to creating solutions. To gain information about gendered violence that occurs on campus, whether it is disclosed, reported or never spoken of publicly, we also support the use of climate surveys. Climate surveys provide us with the opportunity to learn about sexual violence that’s taken place that survivors may not want to speak about, about experiences that they have disclosed on a peer-to-peer level, and about experiences that are reported externally to agencies in our communities but not to us.
In 2015, the Social Innovation Research Group at Laurier completed The Change Project: Campuses Ending Gendered Violence. This project utilized a climate survey to gauge student attitudes, familiarity with services, and experiences with gendered violence. The recommendations that came out of this research are helping to shape our training initiatives. This research is rich; it is factual; it is meaningful. It’s information for our students, their families, administration and faculty. The recommendations that came out—there were 10 of them—have become the mandate of our gendered violence task force.
Climate surveys allow us to see, measure and track the culture of gendered violence at our institution without creating a reporting burden for people who are in supporting roles—many of whom are students themselves, such as residence dons—and without creating barriers to students who are concerned about what might happen to any reporting data that’s collected when they are simply seeking help.
We truly believe in a survivor-centric model when it comes to gendered violence. Students, student-survivors, expert faculty and our community partners have told us that this means providing survivors with choices when it comes to seeking help; making navigating university policies as clear and easy as possible; respecting a survivor’s right to request supports confidentially; and learning about how survivors experience gendered violence in a meaningful and consensual way through climate surveys. This means balancing compliance with compassion for survivors every step of the way.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you very much. In keeping with our practice, we have less than five minutes. This time it goes to the government. Ms. McGarry.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you very much, Lynn and David, for coming in. I really appreciated the fact that MPP Daiene Vernile of Kitchener Centre and I made an echo announcement on your facility last week regarding the Sexual Violence Action Plan, and both of us were impressed at the time with the work that Wilfrid Laurier has been doing in terms of developing the sexual violence policy on campus, and also your work on this file in general, providing leadership to many of the campuses in our area.
I wanted to ask you specifically what Wilfrid Laurier’s experience has been in developing policies around sexual violence and how that has added to the conversation of prevention and awareness of this subject.
Ms. Lynn Kane: Actually, it started as a class project. They were researching sexual violence policies on campuses across the country. They became passionate in that class, and they were supported, after that class ended, by a professor in continuing their work. They requested to speak with David, myself and the dean of students about their work and told us that they would like to make the first draft of our policy. So we said okay. They did a wonderful job.
Their work was based on the Ontario Women’s Directorate guide for colleges and universities. Since then, they’ve been involved in the back and forth, going through legal counsel, involving more students who are involved in the task force.
It has been a great opportunity in getting to know some of our students and their needs. Also, they are building confidence with administration that we’re listening and that we’re partners with them.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: When it comes to reporting on university campuses—universities, colleges and private career colleges—I know that the government has committed to some ongoing work with the reporting issues: that it’s in context and that it’s not going to compromise confidentiality of the students who may be disclosing or reporting. That’s very important, really, to all.
In terms of going forward, do you have any more suggestions or can you clarify how you think that reporting should look?
Mr. David McMurray: Our intention, as it is now, is to have a button on the home page of our website related to all forms of gender violence support education. We think it’s a valuable and meaningful tool for parents, for new students and for current students to look right at The Change Project, for example, which reveals a very widespread level of information associated with the problem and what’s being done about it. We’re proud to have that on the face of the institution—concern about eradicating and educating. We really think that the level of reporting and particularly disclosure will increase dramatically—we hope that it will—so that survivors can receive the level of support they need.
Ms. Lynn Kane: Quickly adding to that: A student survivor contacted me recently about this point specifically and said that it’s not just reporting. Even if everything is confidential, it’s not just that; it’s also the student’s perception of reporting.
There’s a history of perceptions of reporting that might make it feel unsafe still. We still have to have a range of options and really work on undoing some of the work that might have been done in the past about reporting so that it’s not just about—even if it’s guaranteed confidential, a student might not come forward if they perceive it not to be.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: I agree. In terms of looking at the complex issue of sexual violence, in particular how it pertains to campuses across Ontario, have you felt that the Who Will You Help? and It’s Never Okay ad campaigns are helpful in trying to prevent it in the beginning?
Ms. Lynn Kane: I really like these videos a lot. We use them in our orientation. We did have pushback from men. They felt that it wasn’t inclusive and they felt a little bit threatened by that. To me, that really emphasizes how important it is to make that a starting point to a much longer and ongoing conversation. For us, it’s especially important to engage men in a meaningful and sustained way. Those videos got their shoulders up, so there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to do more long-term programming with men.
Mr. David McMurray: We’re working very closely with our community sexual assault support centre on a program called Male Allies Against Sexual Violence. Men are either violent, silent or making meaningful change. We certainly need to address the violent side, the predatory side, but we want to increase those who are silent towards making meaningful change. Those efforts are working.
Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: In terms of reaching out to the male population, certainly the program that you’re talking about we had heard about when the select committee travelled to the Kitchener-Waterloo area. We had the program director out to speak to the committee—very, very valuable.
Do you have some early feedback now from the men who were threatened originally, but when they hear the statistics about the gendered violence against women and how pervasive it is, especially to females—do you find that there is any change in attitude? Are they getting it?
Ms. Lynn Kane: When I’ve had the opportunity to engage them—and it has often been when I’ve gone back to them with bystander training—men who were in that session have said, “You know, I felt weird about this.” There’s no violence against men shown in that first video, the Who Will You Help? video. They felt that meant that we were excluding them and that it didn’t happen to them. It’s something that we’ve had to pick up and be really intentional with, with our ongoing training. We’ve been able to have conversations about it. It has certainly sparked conversations, but it requires that extra.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say: With that, we’ve run out of time. Thank you very much for your presentation.
Ms. Lynn Kane: Thank you.
Mr. David McMurray: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’d like to thank everyone who has presented today.
This committee is adjourned until—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Ah, sorry. We had one other speaker who was lined up: Algoma University Students’ Union. We weren’t able to connect with them. They may be able to connect with us tomorrow, but today we weren’t able to do it.
With that, colleagues, the committee is adjourned until 8:30 a.m. tomorrow at Queen’s Park.
The committee adjourned at 1136.
Thursday 21 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-705
Sault Area Hospital SP-705
Ms. Lisa Case SP-705
Ms. Becky Chiarot SP-706
United Way London and Middlesex SP-707
Ms. Dani Bartlett SP-707
London Abused Women’s Centre SP-710
Ms. Megan Walker SP-710
Society of Graduate Students at Western University SP-712
Ms. Kirstyn Seanor SP-712
Ms. Taniya Nagpal SP-712
Ms. Tamara Hinan SP-713
University of Guelph SP-715
Ms. Robin Begin SP-715
Ms. Melanie Bowman SP-715
Ms. Brittany Vanword SP-715
Sexual Assault Centre London SP-717
Ms. AnnaLise Trudell SP-717
Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children SP-720
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie SP-720
Western University SP-722
Ms. Angela Treglia SP-722
University Students’ Council, Western University SP-725
Ms. Sophie Helpard SP-725
Wilfrid Laurier University SP-728
Mr. David McMurray SP-728
Ms. Lynn Kane SP-728
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
Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong (London–Fanshawe ND)
Mr. Bob Delaney (Mississauga–Streetsville L)
Ms. Sylvia Jones (Dufferin–Caledon PC)
Ms. Harinder Malhi (Brampton–Springdale L)
Ms. Peggy Sattler (London West ND)
Ms. Laurie Scott (Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock PC)
Clerk / Greffière
Ms. Valerie Quioc Lim
Staff / Personnel
Ms. Carrie Hull, research officer,