Former minister calls on Ford government to release sexual violence survey results

Province cites privacy concerns over delayed release

Over 160,000 post-secondary students in Ontario participated in the survey last February.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

On Tuesday, former Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Mitzie Hunter called on the Ford government to immediately release the Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey results. 

“The government has been making incendiary and false statements about student unions,” she wrote in a statement. “Meanwhile, it has been hiding a report that will shed light on sexual violence on university campuses.”

Over 160,000 post-secondary students in Ontario participated in the survey last February, making it the largest survey sent to colleges and universities in the province to date.

The survey’s results were promised to institutions in the fall of 2018. 

As previously reported by The Journal, Queen’s has not received its results. University of Toronto’s student newspaper, The Varsity, has also reported its institution has yet to receive the survey’s findings. 

The delayed publication of the survey’s results isn’t the only problem facing institutions, according to Hunter. 

She stated because of the Student Choice Initiative and government funding cuts to post-secondary institutions, universities and colleges won’t have money to act on the results once they’re released.

“There will be limited money at best to combat sexual violence on campus,” she wrote. “This is a report that should have been released months ago,” and the current Minister’s “excuses so far have no credibility.” 

Stephanie Rea, director of communications for the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (MTCU), wrote the delay is due to privacy concerns, in an email to The Journal.

“The survey vendor is continuing the process of compiling the data in a way that protects participant privacy,” Rea wrote. “Initial projections underestimated the time this work would take.”

Under Hunter, the Liberal government contracted CCI Research to compile and analyze the survey’s results. The company referred The Journal to the current ministry for comment. 

Rea added the Ministry won’t release any data that could put survey participants at risk and will only release the report when they’re “satisfied the data fully protects participant privacy.”

“It’s disappointing the former minister of this file doesn’t understand the necessity of protecting the identity of victims of sexual violence on campus,” Rea wrote.

The Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey website, however, states a student’s name, student ID and email address will never be saved with [their] survey responses. The Ministry didn’t respond to questions about how protecting participant privacy—whether a survivor or not—specifically creates a delay.

The ministry also didn't respond to questions about why the survey's website hasn't been updated to reflect a new timeline for the release of the results, nor whether it has provided institutions with a new release date.

In an email to The Journal on Feb. 12, Queen's University confirmed the Ministry never notified the institution about the delay. The Ministry didn't disclose whether support would be given to institutions to implement the survey results once released. 

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