National News

Liberals commit $1.5M to help universities tackle on-campus sexual violence

By The Canadian Press

Published 2:21 PDT, Thu August 29, 2019

The Liberal government is committing up to $1.5 million to help colleges and universities get better at dealing with sexual violence on campus.

TORONTO — The Liberal government is committing up to $1.5 million to help colleges and universities get better at dealing with sexual violence on campus.

Maryam Monsef, the minister for women and gender equality, said the money would be spent over two years to help post-secondary institutions tackle the problem.

"Starting post-secondary education is a really exciting time," she told of panel of academic experts and students at Ryerson University. "...yet 41 per cent of the cases of sexual violence that are reported to police are reported from those in post-secondary institutions."

Earlier this year, Monsef asked an advisory committee to develop national standards to hold universities and colleges to account when it comes to addressing gender-based violence. The committee, which included student and university groups, consulted with over 300 gender-based violence prevention educators and issued a report.

The report, titled Courage to Act: Developing a National Framework to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence at Post-Secondary Institutions, identifies gaps in preventing gender-based violence on campuses and makes a number of recommendations.

Among a lengthy list, recommendations include increased access to support services and educational materials, providing schools with training on sexual violence, different options for reporting sexual assault and creating a long-term strategy to promote gender equity on campuses.

Monsef said the $1.5-million funding would contribute to the development of toolkits, resources, a web portal and the establishment of communities of practice.

"We know that supporting families and survivors has to be at the heart of everything we do and we also know that promoting responsive legal justice systems has to be a critical component of moving forward," she said.

Monsef also referenced the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements in her remarks.

"Every time one of these hashtags goes viral, the demand on services goes up and also the need to have a more inclusive, more practical conversation about solution also goes up," she said. "We have heard from courageous survivors from across the country and around the world and we need to meet their courage with the courage to act."

Student groups welcomed the effort but said those promises should be backed up by the resources and oversight needed to make them work.

Sydney Bothwell, manager of the Ryerson Students' Union's Centre for Safer Sex and Sexual Violence Support, said her group is reviewing Ryerson's sexual violence policy and will be putting recommendations to the school.

"We are trying to create spaces on campus for survivors who are historically under-served and who maybe don't feel welcomed into the spaces or the support services that already exist on campus," said Bothwell.

The latest funding is part of Ottawa's five-year, $5.5 million commitment to develop a framework to address and prevent gender-based violence at post-secondary institutions.

The federal government said in its 2018 budget that said that beginning this year, it would consider holding back funding from institutions that did not put in place "best practices addressing sexual assaults on campus."

Charmaine Reid, 22, a fourth year politics and governance student at Ryerson who attended the event, said she hoped the new funding would help offer better support to survivors of sexual violence.

"It's important for students to feel safe on campus," she said. "You're not able to better yourself and educate yourself if you're not able to take care of yourself."

– Emerald Bensadoun, The Canadian Press

See more community news

  See All

See more international news

  See All
© 2019 Richmond Sentinel News Inc. All rights reserved. Designed by Intelli Management Group Inc.