The government's proposed legislation on sexual assault will help keep college and university students in Thunder Bay, and the rest of the province, safe, said Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Wynne met with student and community leaders at Lakehead University on Wednesday to discuss the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act.
If passed, the legislation would provide more support for programs to combat sexual assault. It would also require every college and university in the province to have its own sexual violence policy, created with student input.
"The reality is that sexual assault and harassment — this is happening — we can't hide our heads in the sand." Wynne said in an interview with CBC Thunder Bay. "So we'd better deal with it."
"And having an institution that is willing to tackle it and then is willing to report what they're doing and how it's working and is willing to work with students, that's the way we can actually make change."
Wynne called Lakehead University "a leader" for its efforts to address sexual violence, but said wider measures are long overdue.
"When I started to talk about a year ago with young people about their concerns ... I was hearing many of the same things that I dealt with when I was in university in the 70s," she said.
"And I was incredibly frustrated, because it seemed to me that since 1972 we should have made some progress."
The proposed legislation would also require that all campuses have a clear protocol for addressing sexual violence complaints; provide prevention training for faculty, staff and students; and make services and supports for victims available 24/7.