The law must be amended quickly so that the amnesty clauses contained in the collective agreements of CEGEPs and universities can no longer allow sexual offenses to be erased from personnel disciplinary records.
This is what some thirty unions and student associations are pleading with, co-signing a letter on this subject.
Under the amnesty clauses very common in collective agreements, an employee can have the reprimands they have received erased from their file after a certain period of time.
According to the collective agreements in force in the universities of the province, amnesty can be granted in some cases barely a year or two after the facts, denounce the signatories of the letter, according to which it is crucial “to take into account the violations committed in the past” when it comes to sexual violence.
“The application of amnesty clauses in the case of offenses of a sexual nature therefore allows a person to commit sexual violence, to wait for his deletion from his disciplinary file after one or two years and to reoffend without the sanction to which she is exposed takes into account the repetitive nature of the violence for which she is responsible, “the signatories observe.
Radia Sentissi, secretary general of the Federation of student associations on the campus of the University of Montreal, recalls that the law aimed at preventing and combating sexual violence in higher education establishments nevertheless provides that sanctions must take into account the nature, gravity and repetitiveness of sexual violence.
“But how do you get there, how do you take into account the repetitive nature of the gestures, if there is an amnesty and everything is erased from the file after a year or two? asks Ms. Sentissi.
“Repeating should not go unpunished,” the letter said.
In the office of Pascale Déry, Minister of Higher Education, it is indicated that “although certain establishments have already withdrawn these clauses of their own accord, we wish to favor a negotiated solution before considering a legislative amendment. With regard to the college network, following steps taken by the Ministère with the Conseil du trésor, the question will be addressed in the context of the collective negotiations in progress. All options are on the table to end these unacceptable provisions, while many efforts are made to counter sexual violence in all its forms, and we call on the parties to act quickly.”
Jean Boulet, Minister of Labour, for his part pointed out that “in Quebec, we have a law to prevent sexual violence in higher education establishments, and the amnesty clauses go against the spirit of this law”.
“We encourage labor and management parties to review their practices,” he added.
According to her and according to the student associations that signed the letter, it is up to the government to quickly modify the law so that sexual violence is explicitly excluded from the amnesty clauses, in all collective agreements for CEGEPs and universities.
Interviewed by La Presse, Charles Tremblay Potvin, professor of law at Laval University, believes for his part that from a strict legal point of view, we have in hand in Quebec all the tools necessary to fight against sexual violence.
But a legislative amendment, he adds, would have the advantage in his opinion “of making this very clear”, by specifying for example that “in the context of sexual violence, the disciplinary record cannot be erased”. .