#AfterMeToo report proposes nine recommendations to wipe out sexual assault

Casa Loma native Mia Kirshner argues guilds and unions need real policy change

The #AfterMeToo movement has gained significant traction in Toronto, and is still picking up speed. The individuals behind the initiative released a report on March 9 outlining nine recommendations to wipe out sexual assault and abuse within the entertainment industry. Days later, stars took to the red carpet for the Canadian Screen Awards (CSA) sporting pins to show solidarity for the cause.

Mia Kirshner, who hails from the Casa Loma area and has acted in TV shows such as The L Word and Defiance, spearheaded the campaign along with co-founders Aisling Chin-Yee and Freya Ravensbergen. 

“The report proposes essential reforms to culture, procedure and policy that the entertainment industry needs to adopt in order to keep workplaces safe,” Kirshner said.

The recommendations came about as a result of a symposium that heard from victims of sexual assault, labour lawyers and other industry professionals on how to end sexual violence in the industry. The report highlights the need for a national body to oversee investigations, a database that not only tracks blacklisting of victims in the industry but keeps a record of all allegations that are brought forward and a safety fund for survivors to cover the cost of legal and mental health counselling.  

Kirshner said it also outlines “clear meaningful repercussions” for sexual perpetrators. “An apology letter doesn’t quite cut it,” she added.  

Emma Phillips, a human rights and labour lawyer in Toronto, provided legal counsel on the #AfterMeToo report. Phillips has also consulted on independent systemic harassment reviews of both the military and RCMP. 

Phillips pointed out two main benefits to introducing a national body to oversee allegations: it would be free of any conflict of interest and could co-ordinate between different stakeholders and across legal jurisdictions.

“It requires real political will from all the stakeholders. Certainly it is an ambitious proposal, but if it’s ever going to be achievable, it’s going to be at this particular moment,” Phillips said. “If we want to have systemic change, then we need to institute some real mechanisms of accountability.”  

Kirshner said the next step will be to take the recommendations to the guilds and unions and ask them to make some changes to their policies.

“We have a meeting at the end of April, and we’re beginning to meet with the guilds and unions now. I hope they are receptive to this,” she said. 

Until then, Kirshner said the support #AfterMeToo has received — Margaret Atwood and the cast of Schitt’s Creek were just some of the stars who chose to wear pins at the CSA — has been encouraging. 

“Leaders in the industry wearing our pin and speaking about the movement shows the need for a change,” she said. 

The full report can be viewed online at AfterMeToo.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO