Montreal, December 8th, 2018 – Today, Quebec’s National Assembly adopted Bill 151, an Act to prevent and combat sexual violence in higher education institutions. The Association for the Voice of Education in Quebec (AVEQ) applauds the unanimous adoption of this law, which includes important measures aimed at confronting the important issue of sexual violence, which is present not only on campuses, but also in society at large. We would also like to salute the participation of a diversity of groups, notably those representing survivors, in the various consultations that were held to develop this law, and we are reassured to note that a significant number of their recommendations have been integrated into the Bill. Finally, we are encouraged by the announcement of an additional $2 million to finance support services for survivors on campuses, that we hope will ameliorate the dire lack of services on regional campuses in particular.
In the name of its members, in collaboration with them and other groups, AVEQ also participated in not only the Days of Reflection on Sexual Violence, but also in the presentations before the Commission of Culture and Education regarding the proposed bill. Throughout the process, we have advocated that eventual legislation would be clear, complete, and take into account the realities of survivors and the marginalized people that are most at risk of experiencing sexual violence. We are thus also satisfied to see that a considerable number of the recommendations outlined in the memoir that AVEQ submitted to the parliamentary commission are reflected in the amendments made to the proposed bill, such as:
- The recognition of the different impacts of sexual violence on marginalized groups such as queer and trans people, racialized people, Indigenous people, international students, and disabled people;
- The need for specific timelines regarding services and support offered (7 days) and the full processing of reports (90 days);
- Partial restrictions on professor-student relationships ;
- The removal of the specific mention of the police force as an “external resource”;
- The requirement for a committee composed of students, administrators, and staff members, mandated with developing and implementing the policy, to be created at each institution;
- The adoption of institution’s policies by January 1st, 2019, before their implementation by September 1st, 2019, which allows for a period of study and revision, if needed.
Certainly, there are still gaps remaining in the adopted bill. We will continue to advocate for these issues during the creation of the regulations attached to the bill, as well as in collaboration with our member associations when the time comes to form policies for each institutions These issues are notably:
- The importance of specifying the protections for survivors throughout the reporting process, as well as the interaction between the internal institutional reporting process and pursuing criminal charges;
- Regarding the announce of supplementary financing of support services, the relevance of establishing uniform levels of minimal services across Quebec, in order to address regional inequities;
- The formalization of a process for reporting institutions to the Minister, and clarifications regarding the role and independence of the recently announced staff position created to support institutions in creating and implementing their policies
Kristen Perry, AVEQ’s Coordinator of Mobilization and Associative Development, summarized, “Today is a historic day regarding sexual violence legislation, but we have so much more to do to build communities that are safer for us all. It is crucial that we all continue to do what we can to challenge and deconstruct rape culture on our campuses and in society at large. For AVEQ, that means prioritizing survivors and collaborating with community and student groups that are already doing this work, as well as supporting local student associations throughout the process of policy-making at each university in the coming year.”