Quebec Sexual Assault Survivors Have Fewest Rights In Canada Due To Statute Of Limitations
Quebec Solidaire MNA Christine Labrie has introduced a new act in hopes to abolish this.
- Quebec is one of the only two provinces in Canada that has a statute of limitations for cases related to sexual assault below, but Quebec Solidaire is working to change such.
- Quebec Solidaire MNA Christine Labrie has introduced a new act to attempt to abolish the province's limitation period.
- Read about this new act and the history of Quebec's limitation period below.
Quebec Solidaire MNA Christine Labrie is working to abolish the statute of limitations for cases related to sexual assault in Quebec. As it stands right now, Quebec is one of only two provinces in all of Canada that still maintains a limitation period for sexual abuse claims, along with Prince Edward Island.
Quebec's limitation period was a mere 3 years prior to 2013. It was upped to 30 years on May 23, 2013, with the period starting when the victim "realize[s] the harm they suffered was caused by the assault," according to Éducaloi.*
According to McKiggan Hebert Lawyers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, all other provinces in Canada have abolished their limitation period for sexual abuse claims.
In both PEI and Quebec, the limitation period does not begin for survivors that are minors until they reach the age of majority (18 in Quebec).
The Northwest Territories maintain a limitation period "in certain cases," according to the Sexual Abuse Claims Blog.
To clarify, survivors of sexual abuse are also able to pursue criminal charges, an avenue that has no time limit but may not result in any form of monetary compensation for damages felt by the victim.
A civil court case demands monetary compensation for a crime. If the defendant (aggressor) is found guilty, they must pay the plaintiff (victim).
A criminal court case results in legal ramifications if the defendant is found guilty, which could be a prison sentence for cases relating to sexual assault.
A criminal court case can often come after a civil court case, if the Crown believes there is evidence enough to charge the defendant (aggressor) of a crime.
Moreover, "anyone who knows about a sexual assault can make [a] complaint," Éducaloi explains, meaning that either the victim or someone who knows about a sexual assault can contact the police and file a complaint.
The police then investigate and the Crown decides whether they will "formally accuse the suspect of a crime."
Because of this lengthy process, criminal cases often take years, making a limitation period unrealistic.
But it is no secret that sexual abuse, particularly of minors, results in longterm ramifications. The psychological impact alone can cause many survivors to feel the consequences of the abuse long after the abuse has stopped.
In many cases, children who have been abused don't realize the scope of their victimhood until they have long entered adulthood.
Other situations, like domestic abuse, leave survivors feeling unable to come forward with a formal complaint due to fear for their safety.
This is why Christine Labrie is fighting to abolish Quebec's limitation period. The amendments she hopes to see to the Civil Code are many and can be seen in the bill she brought to the National Assembly in June of 2019.
Her tweet below reads, "I introduced my 2nd bill yesterday! 😃 It seeks to abolish the limitation period to allow survivors of sexual assault to prosecute their assailant, even if the act was committed a very long time ago."
Most notably, Labrie wants to abolish the limitation period and allow survivors to charge their aggressors for as long as the aggressor is alive.
These amendments would be retroactive and would also allow for past cases that were dismissed due to the limitation period to be reheard by a judge.
Anyone can report a sexual assault to the SPVM at any time by going to the website here.
There is a free survivors' helpline available at all times: 1-888-933-9007.
CAVAC, or the Crime survivors’ Assistance Centre, helps survivors overcome the psychological and social consequences of sexual assault and their services are completely confidential. Their website has a "Leave Quickly," option.
*This article has been updated.