The government is providing additional funding to Ontario colleges and universities to combat sexual violence on campus.
Post-secondary Minister Merrilee Fullerton made the announcement Tuesday at Queen’s Park, saying the schools “have a responsibility to protect students, and must do everything possible to ensure campuses are free from sexual violence. Our government has zero tolerance for sexual assault, harassment, and any other form of violence in our communities.”
She also released the results of a survey, conducted a year ago by the previous Liberal government, looking at post-secondary students’ views on consent, any experiences of sexual violence and how their school supports survivors.
Fullerton also said that all post-secondary institutions will have a sexual violence task force and also report on a “number of measures related to the experiences of and support for students who have experienced sexual violence.”
She also said the government would double to $6 million the 2018-19 funding to the Women’s Campus Safety Grants, which allow schools to apply for money to conduct safety audits, hold workshops or programs or purchase security equipment.
About 160,000 students took part in the online “Student Voices on Sexual Violence” survey.
Colleges and universities are already required by law to have a sexual violence policy and a clear process for how such incidents are dealt with, and also to review those measures every three years.
The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance has been urging the province to set “minimum standards” for sexual violence services.
In 2014, a Star series highlighted sexual assault on campus. At that time, only nine nationwide had policies in place.
The Ford government has come under criticism from sexual assault service providers as well as opposition MPPs for not providing promised funding to rape crisis centres — about $12 million over three years that was pledged last March by the Liberals. Last month, Attorney General Caroline Mulroney announce $1 million for the centres for the upcoming fiscal year.
Kristin Rushowy is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow her on Twitter: @krushowy