The three opposition parties are uniting to “put pressure” on the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, by demanding the adoption by June of a framework law to fight against sexual violence in the workplace. school. A bill will be tabled again on Thursday, this time by solidarity MP Ruba Ghazal.
“This is an important topic that needs to be addressed in a cross-partisan way. […] We want to send a clear message to the Minister: it takes a framework law to fight against sexual assault in our schools. It’s pressing, “said Ms. Ghazal on Sunday, during a press conference in Montreal, alongside the collective The voice of young people counts, which has been calling for the adoption of such a law for more than five years.
In 2017, Hélène David, who was then Minister responsible for the Status of Women under the Liberal government of Philippe Couillard, had passed a law to combat sexual violence in CEGEPs and universities. Since then, all these establishments must have a policy on the matter, support offices and various support mechanisms.
For Ms. Ghazal, “it is not normal that in primary and secondary schools, there is not the same type of law to protect young minors, especially when we know that more than half of complaints of assault come from minors, police say.” Québec solidaire spokesperson Manon Massé argued that her party is trying to correct a “blind spot” in the system.
“Young people have been doing the work of adults for more than five years now. Now is the time to take responsibility. Let’s not wait for the next tragedy. Let’s act now, “said Hawawou Sy, a member of the collective The voice of young people counts.
The policy would include prevention and awareness measures, mandatory annual training for management and staff, and a detailed complaints process. The presence of services or a resource person on sexual violence is also provided for in each establishment.
Christine Labrie, the supportive MP for Sherbrooke, had already tried to pass a similar bill, but it died on the order paper when the last election was called.
“There are young people who don’t even know what sexual assault is. That’s why we have to do prevention, ”said liberal Marwah Rizqy, who will support the bill. “Mr. Drainville, I know you are listening. We want to have it adopted in this legislature and in an ideal world, by June. We are available, Mr. Drainville,” she said more directly to the minister.
In mid-April, after having launched a general investigation into cases of sexual violence in schools, Minister Drainville announced the establishment of a telephone line to report any form of sexual misconduct or violence in schools. However, La Presse reported in the aftermath that no one answers this line, which is rather a voicemail.
In writing, Mr. Drainville’s office said Sunday that it is “very sensitive to the issues related to sexual violence in our schools”, without however confirming that it will move forward with a framework law.
“The collective The voice of young people counts was heard in special consultations in 2022 on the bill on the Protector of the student where we can find a complete section on sexual violence. Our government also adopted this law in June 2022,” said press attaché Florence Plourde, recalling that the law provides that a “separate section” of the Anti-Intimidation and violence should be devoted to violence of a sexual nature.
Quebec also wants to make mandatory “training activities for management and staff members as well as security measures to counter sexual violence”. These new measures are due to come into force on September 15.
For Ms. Ghazal, however, the Student Ombudsman “is not enough.” “It’s like an ombudsman, after all. However, we know that as soon as a young person speaks, there must be a resource in the school, “she maintains, recalling that a young person who is attacked does not necessarily want to go to the institution.