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Ontario reveals plan to combat sexual harassment against women

| www.cos-mag.com

The Ontario government has released an action plan to fight sexual violence and harassment, which includes the strengthening of workplace safety laws.

The "It's Never Okay" action plan outlines concrete steps to help change attitudes, provide more supports for survivors and make workplaces more responsive to complaints about sexual violence and harassment. More than one-quarter (28 per cent) of Canadians say they have been on the receiving end of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours or sexually-charged talk while on the job, said the provincial government.

The government has committed $41 million over three years to support the plan's implementation.

“As a woman, ending sexual violence and harassment is a cause I feel strongly about — and as a leader, it is also one I know is right for Ontario. Our action plan is an affirmation that everyone in this province deserves dignity, equality and respect, and is a clarion call to all Ontarians to help end misogyny so that everyone can live free from sexual violence and harassment," said Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

In December 2014, Wynne called for stronger action against sexual violence and harassment and directed a group of ministers to put forward measures to address the issue.

Highlights from the plan include: 

•A multi-media public education campaign to help change behaviours and call on bystanders to intervene.

•Stronger workplace safety legislation that, if passed, would require employers to investigate and address workplace harassment, including sexual harassment.

•An enhanced prosecution model tailored to the needs of sexual assault cases that will help ensure that all such charges are prosecuted as fairly, effectively and respectfully as possible.

•Legislation that, if passed, would eliminate the two-year limitation period for civil sexual assault claims and claims of sexual assault before the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.

•Increased and stabilized funding for supports for survivors provided by community partners.

•A new health and physical education curriculum that will help children, from Grades 1 to 12, develop a deeper learning about healthy relationships and consent.

A permanent stakeholder roundtable on violence against women will be convened to provide advice to the government on ongoing and emerging gender-based violence issues.

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