The Liberals are planning to bolster support for sexual assault crisis centres in universities and come up with a national framework for the issue.
They are promising to provide $5.5 million over five years, and say if universities’ policies don’t measure up, they may lose federal funding.
The announcement, which was detailed in the 2018 federal budget, comes as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have hit major institutions like Hollywood and Parliament Hill.
It’s an issue that students across the country have been talking about for a while now.
Last year, student group Our Turn issued a report card that analyzed sexual assault policies on campuses across the country and found it lacking.
Only one campus received an A-, while six received a D+, D, or D-. The average was a C-.
The new money for the centres will be allocated through the Ministry for the Status of Women Canada, which was just upgraded to a full department in this budget. It will be dedicated to developing a national framework to ensure consistent practices for dealing with sexual assaults.
According to the budget, nearly half (47 per cent) of all sexual assault incidents happened to young women between the ages of 15-24, and 41 per cent of all sexual assaults were reported by students.
“There is a need for federal leadership in this area, to support a harmonized national approach and dialogue, leading to strategies to address sexual violence, to create safe campuses, and to remove the stigma from reporting or seeking support following sexual violence,” the budget document reads.
The government also said that for universities that don’t comply with the “best practices,” they would consider withdrawing their federal funding from 2019 onward.
The announcement comes as part of the value-based budget which was focused on gender issues and women’s issues.
As part of the bid to fight gender-based violence, the government has dedicated an additional $86 million to a gender-based violence strategy, which includes violence against members of the LGBTQ2 communities.
The strategy will focus on workplace harassment, legal support, and support for victims of family violence, and will address negative police interactions with victims.
Other major gender-based initiatives include how the government will tackle the gender pay-gap and introduce paternity leave.
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