Government legislation would remove time limits on civil claims for sexual assault

From left: Debra Tomlinson, CEO, Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services; Elizabeth Halpin, survivor; Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General; Mary Jane James, Executive Director, Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton

by Morinville News Staff

The Government of Alberta introduced legislation Tuesday that would increase access to the legal system for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. If passed,

The Limitations Act currently specifies that any civil claim arising from an assault must commence within two years from when the person knows of the incident.

The government says the proposed changes recognize survivors can take much longer to come forward with claims for a variety of reasons.

Bill 2, An Act to Remove Barriers for Survivors of Sexual and Domestic Violence, would amend existing legislation to remove time limits to bring forward civil claims on sexual assaults, sexual misconduct involving a minor, intimate relationship or dependant, and non-sexual assault involving a minor, intimate relationship or dependant.

“By eliminating limitation periods, we are making space for survivors of sexual and domestic violence to come forward when they are ready,” Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General. “We respect the time it may take to do this. If passed, Bill 2 will improve the lives of these Albertans.”

Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services CEO Debra Tomlinson said the change in legislation increases the opportunities for those who have experienced sexual assault to find justice.

“This gives survivors another avenue to seek reparation while holding those who commit sexual assault accountable,” she said.

Survivor Elizabeth Halpin applauded the legislation. “This bill may open up a chapter of my life that I thought was over a long time ago. I hope it will bring closure and healing to many survivors who have lived through trauma and are still dealing with the far-reaching impacts of sexual violence.”

The government says while eliminating limitation periods for sexual assault puts Alberta in line with most provinces, Alberta would lead the nation in addressing sexual misconduct in intimate relationships, No Canadian jurisdiction currently expressly states this in legislation.

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