After The Varsity and the Queen’s Journal reported that the Ontario government still has not released data from a province-wide sexual violence survey conducted last year, the Liberal MPP who initiated the survey has rebuked the Progressive Conservatives (PC) for “hiding” the results, further linking it to criticisms of the PC changes to postsecondary education.
On February 12, Mitzie Hunter, former Liberal Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development (AESD) and current MPP for Scarborough—Guildwood, released a statement demanding that the Ford government release the results of the Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey.
Under Hunter, the survey was developed and administered by the Ministry of AESD, currently known as the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (TCU), and sent to all postsecondary institutions in the province.
Months after the estimated date set by the previous Liberal administration for the release of the survey data, schools and students alike still have not seen the results.
Merrilee Fullerton, the current Minister of TCU, adopted the responsibility of handling the release of the survey results when she succeeded Hunter. When asked by The Varsity about the results, Fullerton said that privacy concerns have caused the delay.
In her statement released this week, Hunter said, “This is a report that should have been released months ago. The Minister’s excuses so far have no credibility.”
In a previous interview with The Varsity, Hunter said that when developing the survey, “There was thought given to confidentiality and the privacy of those [completing] the survey.”
“[The government] has been hiding a report that will shed light on sexual violence on university campuses,” Hunter wrote in her statement. “What’s concerning is that universities and colleges won’t have money to take action on this report once it’s released,” referring to the province’s 10 per cent cut to tuition.
“Ford’s post-secondary education plan is taking millions of dollars out of post-secondary institutions… there will be limited money at best to combat sexual violence on campus,” Hunter wrote.
In response, Fullerton released a statement saying, “I am deeply disappointed in MPP Hunter, who used to be a Minister of the crown and is now choosing to politicize the privacy of sexual assault survivors.”
Fullerton reiterated the privacy concerns. “When I am satisfied the data fully protects participant privacy, I will release the survey results on this important issue. I will not be rushed into reckless action, as MPP Hunter suggests.”
When asked by The Varsity for an approximate timeline for the release of the survey results, Fullerton’s Director of Communications Stephanie Rea said that no date has been set, as “it depends on how long the vendor takes.”
When asked about the privacy concerns, Rea said that the Ministry of TCU “[has] not seen the data. It is still with the vendor, and will not be released to us until it is proven all confidentiality has been maintained.”
When The Varsity previously reached out to the vendor, CCI Research, it referred all questions to the Ministry of TCU.