In response to a number of high-profile sexual assault cases across Canada, "Bill 132, the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment)" was passed in Ontario in the spring of 2016. The law has been enforced as of September 2016. Bill 132 affects both workplaces and universities, with the primary goals of creating better preventative measures and expanding the definitions of harassment. The law also mandates the creation and management of processes for dealing with sexual violence at businesses and schools.
Necessary Changes for University Investigations Involving Students
Universities are being called to improve the way they look at and respond to sexual assault and harassment on their campuses. Bill 132 requires that schools do three main things to keep institutional community members safe and create a better policy for harassment and assault investigations that relate to students. They are:
- Create a transparent policy for dealing with complaints of harassment or sexual violence.
- Include student input while drafting all sexual harassment violence and harassment policies.
- Review the policy every three years and draft necessary changes as needed.
In addition, universities must report statistics regarding complaints and investigations to the Ministry.
Process Adjustments for Investigations with Staff Involved
Bill 132 also affects the staff on campus at institutions of higher education, because it addresses necessary changes to workplace investigations and handling of complaints. While Canada already asked employers to have policies in place for harassment and violence charges involving staff, Bill 132 asks them to include the following measures in new investigation processes moving forward:
- Develop a procedure for reporting harassment or violence related to university staff that does not include going to a supervisor, since this person may be the harasser.
- Create a plan for how all important case details and the identity of people filing a complaint against a staff member will be kept confidential (unless required to be released by law).
- Have a concrete process for how the complainant and accused will be notified in writing of the results of the investigation.
- Annually review all policies related to harassment and sexual violence involving university staff.
Bill 132 aims to keep students and staff safe on campus. Notably, universities are required to report in writing what their new policies and procedures are to the Ministry, which will keep them accountable to the new law.
How Advocate by Symplicity Can Help
Advocate is an industry-trusted case management solution for handling the entire process of a sexual assault case end-to-end. It allows for students to make their own reports with their own input during the investigation stage. Furthermore, Advocate GME – the version of Advocate that extends case management capabilities to staff and faculty at an institution – allows for a solid plan and method of handling sexual assault cases involving university employees. Learn more about Advocate here.