Ontario Supporting Safe, Respectful Learning Environments for Postsecondary Students
Updated: Oct 28, 2022
TORONTO — Today, the Ontario government introduced the Strengthening Post-secondary Institutions and Students Act, 2022 that, if passed, would further protect students by providing measures for postsecondary institutions to address faculty and staff sexual misconduct toward students on campus.
“All students deserve to learn in a safe and supportive learning environment,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “From day one, we have been clear: this government has zero-tolerance for sexual assault, harassment, or any other forms of violence or misconduct. That’s why we are taking action to better protect students from sexual violence and misconduct on and off-campus.”
The legislation would amend the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act and the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005 to help protect students in cases of faculty and staff sexual misconduct but also allow the institutions to better address complaints when they arise.
In particular, the amendments would:
Strengthen the tools available to institutions to address instances of faculty or staff sexual misconduct against students (i.e., deeming sexual abuse of a student to be just cause for dismissal and preventing the rehiring of employees found to have committed sexual abuse of a student)
Prevent the use of non-disclosure agreements to address instances where an employee leaves an institution to be employed at another institution and their prior wrongdoing remains a secret; and,
Require institutions to have employee sexual misconduct policies in place that provide rules for behaviour between faculty, staff and students as well as disciplinary measures for faculty and staff who break these rules.
The changes also build on the new regulatory amendments the Ontario government introduced last fall to protect students from inappropriate questioning or disciplinary action when they report acts of sexual violence.
The legislation also proposes amendments to change Ryerson University’s name to Toronto Metropolitan University and to change the composition and increase the size of its senate.
“The proposed change of Ryerson University’s name to Toronto Metropolitan University supports our government’s efforts to ensure Ontario has a postsecondary system that embraces diversity, inclusivity and promotes success for all learners – including Indigenous learners – so they can find rewarding careers,” said Minister Dunlop.
Since July 2019, publicly assisted colleges and universities are required to report annually to their Board of Governors, including on the number of incidents and complaints of sexual violence reported by students, as well as the supports, programs and initiatives available to students.
On May 11, 2022, Toronto Metropolitan University announced its name change from Ryerson University.
The Strengthening Post-secondary Institutions and Students Act, 2022 includes amendments that would change the composition and increase the size of the university’s senate to reflect the addition of two new faculties – the Lincoln Alexander School of Law and the soon-to-be established School of Medicine.
Learn more about other measures to address sexual violence on campus.