TIMMINS, ON: Ontario’s colleges have begun local consultations to finalize a new stand-alone Sexual Assault and Sexual Violence Policy and Protocol that will be publicly promoted at all colleges by March 31.
“Protecting our students and everyone on our campuses is essential,” said Fred Gibbons, President of Northern College. “The new policy and protocol will help ensure that clear information is widely available and that there is immediate and effective help for victims of sexual assault.”
The presidents of the 24 colleges endorsed the framework for the Sexual Assault and Sexual Violence Policy and Protocol at a meeting in Toronto last week.
The colleges and representatives from Colleges Ontario, an advocacy organization for the colleges, are now consulting with student leaders, government officials, the Ontario Women’s Directorate, OPSEU and others on the policy and protocol. The feedback will be incorporated into the materials as they are finalized for the end of March.
The comprehensive materials were developed by a task force that included senior college leaders, a student representative and legal experts. Building on existing policies and practices at the colleges, the materials include recommendations for promoting greater awareness at colleges and establishing a clear protocol for responding to cases of sexual assault and violence.
The materials also include information about protecting people’s privacy and the steps that should be taken if someone witnesses a sexual assault or has learned about a sexual assault.
As well, the colleges are seeking provincial changes to better support victims of sexual assault. For example, the colleges are recommending the provincial government take steps to ensure that victims throughout the province have immediate access to 24-hour emergency hotline services.
The provincial government is also being asked to consider regulatory changes that might allow colleges and the police to share more information in certain circumstances. The colleges’ proposals might help inform the Wynne government’s action plan on sexual assault that will be developed by March 8, which is International Women’s Day.
“We look forward to working with our students and others to ensure the policy and protocol are easily accessible and clearly understood,” said Gibbons. “Promoting awareness and support will be an ongoing effort.”
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