To safeguard students enrolled in postsecondary institutions across Ontario against sexual misconduct by staff and faculty, the Ontario government has drafted legislation.
In order to better protect postsecondary students from sexual misconduct by staff and faculty, the Strengthening Post-secondary Institutions and Students Act, 2022 (Bill 26) proposes amending the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act and the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005. This will also enable institutions to respond to complaints when they arise.
The government acknowledged that the bill relies on new regulatory changes made last year to shield students who report sexual assault from abusive interrogation or disciplinary consequences.
According to the bill, if an employee engages in sexual misconduct with a student, the institution may fire or reprimand the employee for it, and the action is justified for all intents and purposes. Due to the discharge or disciplinary action, the employee will no longer be eligible for notice of termination, termination pay, compensation, or restitution.
Additionally, if a worker engages in sexual misconduct against a student and is fired by the organization for it or quits their job as a result, the institution is not permitted to hire the worker again.
The bill mandates that every school have a policy on employee sexual misconduct that includes, at the very least, guidelines for sexual conduct involving both staff and students.
A clause that prevents an institution from disclosing the fact that a court, arbitrator, or other adjudicator has found that an employee has engaged in sexual misconduct against a student should not be included in any agreement between an institution and any person, including a collective agreement or an agreement resolving ongoing or anticipated litigation. Any such clause in an agreement shall be regarded as invalid.