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Sattler bill aims to prevent sexual assault, harassment in bars

A private members bill re-introduced in provincial parliament Tuesday aims to protect patrons and staff at licenced establishments from sexual harassment and sexual assault.

The Safe Night Out Act would require anyone who works in an establishment that serves liquor to be trained in evidence-based and trauma informed sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention.

The bill is co-sponsored by Ontario New Democrat MPPs Peggy Sattler of London West and Kristin Wong-Tam of Toronto Centre.

“Alcohol is the number one date rape drug that is currently used, but we also have to look at it from a lens of safety,” said Wong-Tam at a Queens Park news conference.

“It gives the government a legislative framework to make places where liquor is served safer for the patrons who are most at risk of sexual violence and harassment, who are predominantly female and often young, as well as the workers who serve them,” explained Sattler.

The bill has been updated from its 2017 version. The biggest change is that it would not be part of the Smart Serve program. According to the bill’s sponsors, training would be free for staff and licence holders.

Dave Monture, who owns and operates the Wortley Roadhouse in London, Ont., said it would be good idea. But he added that some of its elements are already covered by existing laws, at least when it comes to protecting staff.

“Ministry of Labour already has us post harassment in the workplace policy and programs, so that is kind of already in place,” he said. “Sexual harassment is part of the program.”

A number of organizations are lending their support to the bill, including the London Abused Women’s Centre, Anova London, and the Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women and Children.

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance also applauds the bill as a step in making outings safer for students.

“When students go out to their local bar or restaurant they should feel liberated to have fun without their sense of safety being compromised,” said executive director Malika Dhanani.

It’s not yet determined who would conduct the training, should the bill get passed. A spokesperson for the Ontario NDP told CTV News London it could be violence against women organizations, unions, or a combination of both. Top Stories

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