The Notley government has put forward a bill that would remove time limitations for victims of sexual assault, sexual misconduct, and non-sexual assault involving a minor, intimate relationship, or dependent to file a civil lawsuit.
“The decision to come forward is extremely personal and can be very difficult,” said Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley. “Survivors of sexual and domestic violence should be empowered to come forward on their own terms.”
Currently, victims have two years from the date of the incident to launch civil action against their alleged perpetrators. This is in line with the limitations found in other civil actions, like business and consumer lawsuits.
“We know people haven’t been able to file a claim because they have exceeded that strict time limit,” said Ganley.
Sexual assault survivor Elizabeth Halpin was unable to pursue a lawsuit because the time limitation had expired in her case.
“Giving survivors time to get their life back on track is essential in this process,” said Halpin. “This proposed legislation sends a strong message of support to survivors. I finally feel like someone is on my side.”
If passed, the bill would grant the ability to sue retroactively, allowing people like Halpin to revisit their case if they so desired. She is unsure if she would pursue civil action.
“It’s a really big decision to make,” said Halpin. “It opens up a chapter of your life you thought was done and dusted and recovered from. At the end of the day, money can’t fix what happened to me.”
Ganley said the NDP hope to have the bill passed by the end of the spring sitting of the legislature.