MPP Fife Consults with YW KW for Proposed Sexual Assault Justice Bill


‘Speaking for Lydia’: Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife’s sexual assault justice bill pushes for much-needed transparency on court case backlog

waterloo mpp catherine fife was going to speak for lydia

The YW Kitchener Waterloo, along with other women-led and feminist organizations across Ontario, were consulted earlier this year as Fife prepared to debate her private member’s bill. 

Lydia’s Law is named on behalf of Lydia, a survivor of sexual assault from Waterloo Region who was forced to wait almost two years through difficult court proceedings to see justice. 

But back in May, the provincial government voted to send Bill 189 – Accountability and Transparency in Handling of Sexual Assault Cases – to committee without a chance for debate in the legislature, leaving the bill voiceless. 

“I wasn’t going to speak for myself,” Fife said in a recent interview. “I was going to speak for Lydia.”

Fife’s bill seeks greater transparency and accountability on how sexual assault cases are handled in the justice system and calls on the government to put into place recommendations made by the provincial Auditor General in 2019. These include reporting on sexual assault cases that have been waiting on a decision for more than eight months, analyzing the reasons for the delays, and making them public as they address them. 

“Womens’ voices were silenced when the Ford government sent the bill to committee without debating it,” Fife said.  

“There needs to be some urgency on this issue,” she said.

In 2022, 1,326 sexual assault cases were withdrawn, or charges were stayed, while in 2023 there were 1,171 similar cases withdrawn. 

Earlier this year, the YW Kitchener-Waterloo was among 100-plus organizations calling for a provincial declaration of Intimate Partner Violence as an epidemic. 

The province-wide declaration, spanning 70 municipalities, came from a landmark inquest into the 2015 deaths of Nathalie Warmerdam, Carol Culleton and Anastasi Kuzyk in Renfrew County, three women who were killed by the same man known to have a history of IPV.  

Subcommittee work is set to begin this month in which the government committee is slated to hear 10 days of submissions from various agencies and organizations, including shelter providers and survivors of sexual violence. Kitchener South-Hespeler MPP Jess Dixon will co-lead the committee work. 

Most of that work focuses on another bill introduced by the NDP declaring intimate partner violence an epidemic in Ontario. The Ford government initially supported the bill but stopped short of declaring the pervasive issue an epidemic.  

Recently, the CBC Kitchener-Waterloo reported that Dixon said the mandate of the committee work has expanded to include Lydia’s Law. 

But Fife said Lydia’s Law should have been addressed in the legislature because a solution was already available – the Auditor General’s report of 2019.  

“The emotional labour for this young woman was profound,” Fife said. “Sexual violence is so ugly that people don’t want to talk about it.”

Fife said she will keep the pressure on the government to get action and continue to speak for Lydia. 

“She sees the government playing games with her life,” Fife said, referring to a recent conversation she had with Lydia after the bill was sent to committee.

“She is angry enough to stay involved and motivated by their disregard for what happened to her"


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