QUEEN’S PARK – NDP MPPs Peggy Sattler (London West) and Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre) re-introduced the Safe Night Out Act today with strategies to prevent sexual assault and harassment.
The Safe Night Out Act is a private member’s bill (PMB) that would make Ontario’s bars and nightclubs safer for patrons and staff by requiring training in sexual violence and harassment prevention, and by strengthening protections for servers from workplace sexual violence.
“I am proud to re-introduce this important bill that moves beyond awareness of sexual violence and harassment to actually preventing it,” said Sattler. “Everyone deserves to feel safe anywhere they visit. My goal is not only to ensure that those who visit environments where liquor is served are free from sexual violence and harassment, but that workers and liquor license holders have the tools they need to make their premises safe and enjoyable for all.”
The Safe Night Out Act has two main strategies:
- Changes to the Liquor Licence and Control Act will ensure every person working in an establishment with a liquor license – including supervisors, security and contract staff – receives evidence-based and trauma-informed training on sexual violence and harassment prevention.
- Changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act would explicitly include sexual violence and harassment in the definition of workplace violence and require that both employers and employees receive approved training on workplace sexual harassment.
In 2021, Statistics Canada reported that sexual assault rates were at their highest since 1996. That same year, the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (ORCC) received over 37,500 crisis calls, versus 23,000 in the previous year.
“The rise in violence is incredibly concerning, and I am proud to stand beside my colleague to take action and address this problem directly,” said Wong-Tam. “We need active strategies – not empty promises – that will help make Ontario safer for women, girls, and gender diverse people across Ontario.”
“It is my hope that the Ford government will act immediately to adopt this common-sense solution and pass this bill before summer,” said Sattler. “We all play a role in making the province safer. By working together, we can make positive change happen, and play our part to help prevent sexual assault and harassment.”
Statements of Support
Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres
“We believe that everyone has a role in preventing sexual violence. Businesses and people who serve alcohol have a role. Opportunities to intervene in potentially violent situations – and to support those most at-risk of sexual violence – exist, and we can support people in our communities to know what to do. Over the last few decades, much progress has been made in creating practices to prevent sexual violence and to remind survivors of their rights. Businesses and people who serve alcohol have been – and can be – an integral part of this. Intentional prevention education and training will support people working in this sector to respond to sexual violence with greater confidence. Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres OCRCC supports “Safe Night Out” Bill.”
Woman Abuse Council of Toronto
This bill sends a resounding message that sexual violence and harassment will not be tolerated. It empowers establishments, employees, and patrons alike to prioritize safety and respect. We wholeheartedly endorse the Safe Night Out Act, 2023, recognizing its pivotal role in promoting appropriate responses, mandatory evidence-based training, and creating shared responsibility among all stakeholders. We are dedicated to championing this critical legislation, as it will contribute to the creation of safer environments for all.
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance
“Students deserve to have a post-secondary experience that is fulfilling, fun, and memorable for the right reasons - not wrought with fear for their safety and wellbeing. Students have expressed to us the extreme frustration they feel due to a lack of accountability and responses in addressing sexual violence. It is our hope that the Safe Night Out Act gains support from the Legislature and takes us one step further to creating a culture that proactively stands against sexual violence and harassment.”