Ontario Government Unanimously Supports Day of Action to Stop Cyberbullying in Ontario

Published on December 05, 2019

Member of Provincial Parliament for Mississauga East-Cooksville, Kaleed Rasheed’s Bill 154 passes second reading.

MISSISSAUGA – Kaleed Rasheed, Member of Provincial Parliament for Mississauga East-Cooksville. Tabled a motion to proclaim Stop Cyberbullying Day in Ontario Act, 2019. The new legislation proclaims the third Friday in June of each year as Stop Cyberbullying in Ontario Day. The internationally recognized date to Stop Cyberbullying is currently not recognized in the province of Ontario, MPP Rasheed would like to change that. Today the bill passed its second reading and has been referred to the Committee on Social Policy.

“I am proud of my colleagues and team members who helped make this bill a reality and I appreciate the support I have received across party lines,” said MPP Rasheed. “We all recognize that awareness alone is not enough, this is just one step closer to our end goal, to stop cyberbullying. Through this legislation, we will partner with a wide range of organizations to promote and extend existing programming and training that will help stop cyberbullying at the grassroots level.”

The province of Ontario has seen a rise in cases of cyberbullying. Stop Cyberbullying in Ontario Day will increase awareness and prevention while contributing to the elimination of cyberbullying in Ontario. This day will encourage discussion in schools and workplaces which will provide children and adults the tools they need to protect themselves from cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying can have significant and lifelong physical and mental health effects on children and adults, as well as many other personal and social consequences for both victims and perpetrators. In extreme circumstances, the effects of cyberbullying can cost a life.

Many members of the community addressed their support for Bill 154, including organizations like Hope 24/7. Laura Zilney, the CEO of Hope 24/7 said, “Hope 24/7 enthusiastically supports private member Kaleed Rasheed’s Bill, Stop Cyberbullying in Ontario Day Act, 2019. Women and girls continue to experience the physical and psychological impacts central to the non-consensual creation, distribution and consumption of intimate images. We are happy to support the province in taking the first step in eliminating this form of violence against women.”

“Cyberbullying is so common that it often isn't recognized, leaving the victim to suffer silently. Awareness is a step towards prevention in starting the conversation on how we want to treat each other online.” Said Carol Reist, Executive Director of The Dam.

The Police Association of Ontario (PAO) also spoke out in support of the bill. “Our front-line officers and civilian staff far too often see and hear firsthand, the impacts that cyberbullying can have on the public, and notably, on our children and the long term effects it has on their wellbeing.   With technology – especially social media – playing a larger role in society, the rates of cyberbullying unfortunately only continue to increase. At it's extreme, cyberbullying can be responsible for someone taking their own life. This is appalling and intolerable, and real change needs to occur to put an end to it. The known statistics may not accurately reflect the number of children and adults that are cyberbullied. Many are afraid to tell their parents, friends or a person in a position of authority such as a teacher or police officer. The PAO is, therefore, very supportive of the Ontario Government’s announcement that the third Thursday in June will now be recognized as Stop Cyberbullying Day in Ontario. It is our hope that this new awareness day will contribute to the development of much-needed action to create cyberbullying awareness and prevention tools, and will serve as a positive step forward in decreasing and altogether eliminating cyberbullying in Ontario.”

Cabinet Ministers were also very supportive of the legislation and spoke on the great efforts of MPP Rasheed in putting forward.

The Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce commended MPP Rasheed on his legislation and said, “we are working together to strengthen oversight, enforcement, training, and education to ensure our students remain safe from the classroom to the family room.”

“We know that in Ontario, about 14 percent of high school students reported having seriously contemplated suicide in the past year and about 4 percent reported having attempted suicide,” said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Cyberbullying and suicide continue to affect many people and families across Ontario each and every year – including far too many young people and students in communities throughout the province. That is why we will continue to invest $3.8 billion over 10 years to build an integrated mental health and addictions system that works for all Ontarians. Our overriding priority is to ensure that our children, youth, and students feel safe, and are able to access the services they require, where and when they need them.”

Several members from the legislature stood in the house to lend their support on the legislation during today’s debate. Among them, newly appointed MPP Christina Mitas, who was a former teacher, will overlook the bullying portfolio within the Ministry of Education. MPP Mitas will advise the Minister on education matters with a focus on bullying prevention.

The Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones also thanked MPP Rasheed for his leadership in raising awareness about cyberbullying, which affects young people and their families across Ontario. She said, “all of us play a part in ensuring that young people remain safe in our increasingly digital world.”

“Cyberbullying can occur suddenly, cause endless suffering and leave victims feeling hopeless and powerless. Our government is determined to stand up against cyberbullying at every opportunity and to support victims of this senseless behaviour.” Attorney General, Doug Downey.

Once Bill 154 is passed through committee and into third reading, the act will help Stop Cyberbullying in Ontario. The day will help create more awareness on the issue of cyberbullying, and will ultimately help lead to its prevention. Bill 154 once passed its third reading will give children and adults the tools they need to protect themselves from cyberbullying by encouraging discussion in schools and in workplaces.

Quick Facts

  • Cyberbullying consists of electronic communication that, directly or indirectly, causes or is likely to cause harm to another individual’s physical and mental health or wellbeing.
  • It can include intimidation, threats and harassment and can have significant and lifelong negative effects on children and adults.
  • Ontario has seen an increase in cases of cyberbullying. Stop Cyberbullying Day in Ontario will create awareness of the problem of cyberbullying and help lead to its prevention. It will help bring awareness to children and adults of the tools they need to protect themselves from cyberbullying by encouraging discussion in schools and in workplaces.
  • Overall, approximately one out of every five teenagers in the province have been the target of cyberbullying, and one out of every six has been a cyberbully at some point in their lifetimes.
  • In their recent and comprehensive synthesis of research on cyberbullying found that victimization rates ranged from 2.3% to 72%, with the average being 21% in Canada.

 

About Kaleed Rasheed, MPP

Kaleed Rasheed is the Member of Provincial Parliament for Mississauga East-Cooksville. He is currently the Deputy Government Whip and the Chair of the Legislative Assembly committee. MPP Rasheed has lived in Mississauga East-Cooksville for over 15 years.

MPP Rasheed is a long-time community advocate, passionate about his involvement with local organizations and causes. He is keen on bringing his technological background into his work as an MPP, to help create policies that will protect Ontarians online.

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MEDIA CONTACTS                                                                                             

 

Naila Mahmood

Legislative Advisor for Kaleed Rasheed, MPP

Kaleed.rasheed@pc.ola.org

BACKGROUNDER

Bill 154: Stop Cyberbullying Day in Ontario Act, 2019

  • Cyberbullying consists of electronic communication that, directly or indirectly, causes or is likely to cause harm to another individual’s physical and mental health or wellbeing.
  • It can include intimidation, threats and harassment and can have significant and lifelong negative effects on children and adults.
  • Ontario has seen an increase in cases of cyberbullying. Stop Cyberbullying Day in Ontario will create awareness of the problem of cyberbullying and help lead to its prevention. It will help bring awareness to children and adults of the tools they need to protect themselves from cyberbullying by encouraging discussion in schools and in workplaces.
  • Cyberbullying can have significant and lifelong physical and mental health effects upon children and adults, as well as many other personal and social consequences for both victims and perpetrators. In extreme circumstances, the effects of cyberbullying can cost a life.
  • Our world today heavily relies on the internet and social media, so the number of cyber-bullying cases have been on the rise. Many times these cases are unreported.
  • We recognize that awareness alone is not enough. This is why our office and the Ministry of Education recognize the importance of partnering with a wide range of organizations to promote existing programming that will help stop cyberbullying.
  • This bill will help bring awareness to children and adults about the tools they need to protect themselves from cyberbullying by ensuring it is being discussed in our schools through awareness campaigns, as well as in workplaces.
  • Ontarians agree that cyberbullying is a serious issue.
  • This bill will help bring awareness of cyberbullying to help lead to its prevention.