Sexual violence: Sexual violence means any sexual act or act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s consent, and includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism and sexual exploitation. Sexual violence is about power and control, not about sexual desire.
Sexual assault: Sexual assault is a form of sexual violence and is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. Sexual assault is any type of unwanted sexual act done by one person to another that violates the sexual integrity of the person that it is done to and involves a range of behaviors from any unwanted touching to penetration.
Sexual harassment: Sexual Harassment is a form of sexual violence prohibited by the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code). Sexual harassment is defined as a course of vexatious comment or conduct based on an individual’s sex and/or gender that is known or ought to be known as unwelcome. Under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), workplace harassment has been expanded to include sexual harassment:
Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to the following:
• Any deliberate and unsolicited sexual comment, the use of overt sexual language, suggestion or physical contact that creates an uncomfortable learning/working environment for the recipient and is made by a person who knows or ought reasonably to know that such action is unwelcome;
• A sexual advance or solicitation made by a person to another, where the person making the advance or solicitation knows or ought reasonably to know that it is unwelcome;
• A reprisal or threat of reprisal for the rejection of a sexual solicitation or advance where the reprisal or threat is made by a person in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the other person;
• Unwelcome remarks, jokes, sexual innuendoes or taunting about a person’s body, attire, sex, personal or social life;
• Practical jokes of a sexual nature which cause awkwardness or embarrassment;
• Display and/or distribution of pornographic pictures or other offensive material of a sexual nature, including audio or visual images of an individual through technological devices, equipment and services provided by TBC or other service providers;
• Unwanted and unnecessary physical contact such as touching, patting or pinching.
• Expressions of gender bias which may include remarks that are discriminatory, degrading or derogatory and create a poisoned work environment.
• Requests for sexual favors; and/or
• Sexual assault.
Please note that the behaviors and actions described above are not an exhaustive list of examples of sexual harassment
Consent: Consent is the voluntary agreement of an individual to engage in the sexual activity in question. No consent is obtained, where:
a. the agreement is expressed by the words or conduct of a person other than the individual.
b. the individual is incapable of consenting to the activity.
c. the accused induces the individual to engage in the activity by abusing a position of trust, power or authority.
d. the individual expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in the activity; or
e. the individual, having consented to engage in sexual activity, expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to continue to engage in the activity.
Considerations related to consent:
• should never be assumed or implied
• is not silence or the absence of “no”
• cannot be given when someone is incapable of consenting (by virtue of intoxication, being asleep or being unconscious, for example)
• can never be obtained through threats or coercion
• can be withdrawn at any time
• cannot be given if the perpetrator abuses a position of trust, power or authority.
• cannot be given by anyone other than the person participating in the sexual activity.
Age of consent for sexual activity: Age of consent for sexual activity in Canada indicates that a person can legally consent to sexual activity at the age 6 years. Children under 12 can never legally consent to sexual acts. There are variations on the age of consent for adolescents who are close in age between the ages of 12 and 16. Children between 12 and 13 years of age can consent to non-exploitative sex with other youth who are less than 2 years older than themselves. Youth who are 14 and 15 years old may consent to non-exploitative sexual activity that is mutual with a person, who is less than 5 years older than them. Youths 16 and 17 years old may legally consent to sexual acts with someone who is not in a position of trust or authority.
Note: Non-exploitative activity is defined as sexual activity that does not involve prostitution, trafficking or pornography, and where there is no relationship of power, authority or dependency between the persons involved.
Coercion: Coercion is the use of emotional manipulation, pressure, blackmail, or threats, or the promise of rewards or special treatment, to persuade someone to engage in sexual acts.
Rape: This policy uses the term sexual assault to align with the current language used in the Criminal Code. The term “sexual assault” provides a much broader definition and criminalizes unwanted behaviors, such as touching and kissing, as well as, unwanted oral sex and vaginal and anal intercourse. Although the term rape no longer has legal meaning in Canada, it is still commonly used.
Stalking: Stalking is a form of sexual violence prohibited by the Criminal Code of Canada. It involves behaviors that occur on more than one occasion, and which collectively instill fear or threaten one’s safety or mental health. Stalking can also include threats of harm to an individual’s friends and/or family. These behaviors include non-consensual communications (face to face, phone, email, social media); threatening or obscene gestures or language; surveillance; sending unsolicited gifts; cyberstalking; and uttering threats.
Survivor: Some persons who have experienced sexual assault and sexual violence may choose to identify as a survivor. Individuals may be more familiar with the term “victim”. TBC uses the term “survivor” throughout this policy where relevant because some who have experienced sexual assault believe they have overcome the violent experience and do not wish to identify with the victimization. It is the prerogative of the person who has experienced these circumstances to determine how they wish to identify.