Ontario proposes legislation to protect post-secondary students from sexual misconduct by faculty and staff 

The Doug Ford government has introduced the Strengthening Post-secondary Institutions and Students Act, 2022 that, if passed, would provide 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. “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 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 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.

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