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Survey shows sexual consent awareness low among Canadians

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Fifty-five per cent of Canadians do not understand the legal definition of sexual consent, suggests a recent survey conducted by Maru Public Opinion and commissioned by the Canadian Women’s Foundation (CWF).

According to Canada’s Criminal Code, consent is the voluntary and ongoing agreement to engage in sexual activity, which can be withdrawn at any time.

Out of a random selection of 1,511 Canadian adults who were surveyed on Oct. 18 and 19, less than half (45 per cent) of the respondents demonstrated an understanding of the consensual sexual activity that meets the legal threshold.

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Those who successfully met this threshold were almost equally women and men under the age of 54. This age group also demonstrated a better understanding of sexual consent than their older counterparts above the age of 55, the survey found.

“Stories about sexual violence are covered in the news all the time,” Paulette Senior, president and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, said in a news release on Tuesday.

“While more people seem to be aware of what consent is, it’s alarming that so many still don’t understand. It’s a sign that Canada desperately needs to invest in consent education and effective abuse prevention measures relevant to all age groups.”

Although the percentage of Canadians who are aware of consent has increased since the survey was first conducted in 2015, it still represents less than half of the population.

Awareness also varied according to province, the survey found. Those who had an understanding of consent are more likely to reside in Alberta (49 per cent) and British Columbia (48 per cent), followed by those living in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario (47 per cent each), Atlantic Canada (42 per cent), and Québec (39 per cent).

Last year, the definition of consent under sexual assault law came under scrutiny when a B.C. man was charged with sexual assault after assuring a woman that he would wear a condom.

In July, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that sex with a condom is a different physical act than sex without one, and that the use of a condom can be a condition of consent under sexual assault law.

Canada’s top court said that that saying yes to sex with the condition that a condom is used is not the same as saying yes to sex without conditions. In other words, consent needs to be given again, if the use of a condom was not previously agreed upon.

According to Statistics Canada data published in 2019, 4.7 million women – or 30 per cent of all women aged 15 and older – have experienced sexual assault that did not involve an intimate partner.

The statistics suggest that some women and people of colour, particularly Indigenous women, 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals, women with disabilities, and younger women are more likely to experience sexual assault.

This current survey demonstrates that 42 per cent of Canadians know a woman who has been sexually assaulted.

With files from Kendra Mangione

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Federal Court of Appeal uphold the rules that bolster compensation for air passengers subjected to delayed flights and damaged luggage

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The Federal Court of Appeal says it will uphold all but one of the rules that bolster compensation for air passengers subjected to delayed flights and damaged luggage.

Air Canada, Porter Airlines and several other parties had argued that the passenger rights charter launched in 2019 violates global standards.

The appellants argued the charter should be rendered invalid for international flights.

But the court has ruled to dismiss the appeal, aside from the regulation that compensates passengers for the temporary loss of baggage.

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Daughters of murder victim call on feds to act in light of Winnipeg killings

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The daughters of an Indigenous woman police believe to have been the victim of a serial killer were on Parliament Hill this morning, calling on the federal government to take action.

Police believe Morgan Harris and three other Indigenous women in Winnipeg were murdered by the same man, who has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder.

Winnipeg police also say they think three of the victims’ bodies may be in a landfill, but they don’t plan to do a search because the area is too large.

Harris’s daughters, Cambria and Kera Harris, say the government needs to end violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people.

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The chief of Long Plain First Nation, where two of the four victims are from, is calling for resources for her community such as a 24-7 safe space for women.

Harris’s daughters also say if police won’t conduct a search to find their mother, they will.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2022.

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Flu spread is starting to hit older adults

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Doctors say influenza spread is starting to hit older adults as surveillance levels indicate the hospitalization rate of seniors is not that far behind that of children.

Data from the Public Health Agency of Canada for the week ending Nov. 26 show that children under five still made up the highest number of hospitalized flu patients, but the rate at which people 65 years of age and older are hospitalized is also rising.

Hospitalizations among both young children and seniors have increased sharply over recent weeks during a flu season that started earlier than usual.

Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch says he’s already seeing more seniors with flu as in-patients at Toronto General Hospital.

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Bogoch says there’s a perfect storm of a monster influenza season without enough people getting the flu shot, while hospitals are overstretched.

Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious diseases specialist at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, says in most years, children tend to get the flu first and then bring it home to parents and grandparents — and that hospitals in his province are on the cusp of seeing that impact.

Both doctors are urging people to get the shot, saying it’s not too late.

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