OCASI was invited by the Task Force reviewing the Regulated Health Professions Act (1991) to participate in consultations on the Prevention of the Sexual Abuse of Patients.
The Task Force was appointed by Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (Ontario), to begin its review in January 2015. Consultations began in late February 2015.
The OCASI presentation to the Task Force focused on the experience of immigrant and refugee women, and women without immigration status, and included the included the following recommendations:
OCASI's Recommendations to the Minister's Sexual Abuse Task Force on the Prevention of the Sexual Abuse of Patients
and the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991
- The information on patients' rights should be created in an accessible format. The communication materials should be easy to understand, provided in multiple languages (not just French), materials should also be created using AODA standards, provide information on action steps when abuse does occur: both in terms of reporting and support for victims. Materials should include not just information on responding to sexual violence but information on Prevention.
- The communications materials should not just be text-heavy and written communication materials but should be easy to understand visual posters and PSA's on reporting sexual violence posted in hospitals, health care centres, community centres, libraries, etc.
- All patients should have access to free and accessible language interpretation and translation services
- Service providers: doctors, nurses, should undergo mandatory training on what is sexual violence, and what to do when cases occur
- In order for women to report sexual violence, they must feel safe to report and not face detention and deportation based on their immigration status. While this is true in Toronto, it needs to become a province wide initiative.
- Expansion of the definition of sexual violence to include: behaviour perceived to be of a sexual nature which is unwanted and takes place without consent or understanding including sexual innuendo's, sexual harassment, Indecent sexualized exposure, degrading sexual imagery, stalking and Voyeurism
- There is inherent weakness in a complaints-driven mechanism because it puts the onus to report on the ‘victim'. Legislation should be clear on what is sexual assault, informed consent, but also have strong deterrents through financial, criminal and other sanctions. This needs to be backed up with strong regulations that require ongoing oversight by Ministry of Health and regulatory bodies.