Jessica Bell MPP, University–Rosedale

Government of Ontario

Bill 26, Strengthening Post-secondary Institutions and Students Act

Published on November 2, 2022

Sexual harassment and sexual violence is a far too common and brutal feature of the university experience, especially for women, non-binary, trans and gender-diverse folks. It can happen in many forms and from many people and often comes from a person the victim knows. Sexual assault on or off campus can have devastating impacts on a person for the rest of their life. No survivor for should have to live in fear of returning to campus and seeing the person who sexually abused them, hiding behind an NDA, keeping their job and putting others at risk.

Bill 26 provides post-secondary institutions and private career colleges with clearer rights to fire employees when they are found to have sexually abused a student, stop them from being rehired, and bans the use of non-disclosure agreements.

Here’s what’s in the bill

Schedule 1 - Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities Act

  • A definition is added to the Act, defining a “publicly-assisted university” as “a university that receives regular and ongoing operating funds from the government for the purposes of post-secondary education.”
  • Adds a new section to the Act on sexual misconduct by employees of publicly funded colleges and universities.
  • It defines sexual abuse in relation to a student of a public institution. Ensures that students are free from a reprisal or threat of reprisal for the rejection of sexual solicitation or advance.
  • It lays out new provisions for discharging or disciplining employees who commit an act of sexual abuse of a student. The employee is not entitled to notice of termination or termination pay or any other compensation as a result of the discharge, and arbitrators, or an arbitration board are blocked from substituting any other penalty for the discharge or disciplinary measure imposed by the institution
  • Bans the re-employment of employees who have been discharged due committing at an of sexual abuse of a student.
  • Bans the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements as they pertain to the sexual abuse of a student.
  • Requires every institution to have an employee sexual misconduct policy that includes a minimum of a set of rules with respect to sexual behaviour that involves employees and students of the institution, and examples of disciplinary measures that may be imposed on employees who contravene the policy; the policy may specify acts that constitute sexual abuse.

Schedule 2 - Private Career Colleges Act, 2005

  • A mimic of the provisions outlined above in Schedule 1, but for private career colleges.

Schedule 3 - Ryerson University Act, 1977

  • Changes the name of Ryerson University to Toronto Metropolitan University, makes the necessary corresponding edits to this bill and others that referred to Ryerson.
  • Increases the number of Senate members from 51 to 62 and adds the Deputy Provost and Vice Provost as ex-officio members.

Here’s what’s not in the bill

By focusing only on faculty and staff misconduct towards students, this bill leaves gaps. 

There are still unanswered questions about how this would work in practice.

For example: A lot of sexual violence takes place between students. What happens if a person who commits an act of sexual violence is both an employee (graduate student) and a student? If they are fired as an employee, do they retain status as a student?

Additionally, at present, there is no defined minimum standard for gendered based violence.

Under Ford’s government, sexual assault and rape crisis centres have lived with constant threats to cut their funding, unstable and insufficient funding

Further, Ford took us a step backwards by disbanding the province’s Roundtable on Violence Against Women.

Here’s the bill.