Pressure on Quebec to do away with time limits for filing sex-assault complaints
Pressure is mounting on Quebec to do away with time limits on people being able to file complaints of sexual assault and conjugal violence in the province.
Under Quebec's Civil Code, victims currently have 30 years to do so.
Quebec and Prince Edward Island are believed to be the only provinces that still have a limit.
The push to have Quebec's 30-year deadline scrapped is aimed particularly at people who may have been sexually assaulted in their childhood decades ago by members of religious congregations.
"Shame and guilt prevent victims of sex crimes from acting right away, as most people do,'' Sebastien Richard, a spokesman for a coalition that is seeking the change, told a news conference Wednesday.
"Victims often take decades before finding the strength to act.''
Lawyer Alain Arsenault, who is involved in a class-action suit against a religious congregation, believes thousands of people would come forward to seek justice if the time limit were abolished and that each person would be entitled to between $100,000 and $150,000.
In 2011, the Ste-Croix Congregation agreed to pay $12 million to about 200 people who had been assaulted between 1950 and 2001 in many Quebec schools. Each victim received between $10,000 and $250,000.
Another lawyer, Marc Bellemare, said it is urgent to act immediately, especially as alleged victims and aggressors are often very old.
"Having a time limit for victims of sexual assault to prosecute is a disgrace to Quebec,'' said Bellemare, a former Quebec justice minister.
He and Arsenault said Quebec and Prince Edward Island are the only provinces that still have a limit.
The three opposition parties represented in the legislature, the Parti Quebecois, the Coalition Avenir Quebec and Quebec solidaire, are all in favour of doing away with the time limit.
But, a spokesperson for Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee said there would be no changes to the current system, adding that the 30 years is generous.