The Ontario government recently announced that is allowing regulatory colleges to publicly disclose educators who have been involved in sexual abuse or other serious criminal proceedings, “to further protect students and children.” Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, joined by Jane McKenna, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, announced this change “to ensure that parents are aware of information related to the safety and security of their children and to deliver greater transparency for families.”

The government announced a series of actions to strengthen safety, including:

  • Lifetime bans on any educator who has engaged in physical sexual relations with a student or is involved in any way with child pornography;
  • The lifetime ban imposed on educators for engaging in physical sexual abuse of students and children also applies retroactively for previous similar acts by teachers and early childhood educators whose memberships were reinstated or were not revoked in the first place;
  • A requirement that both the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) and the College of Early Childhood Educators (CECE) provide funding for therapy and counselling to students and children who are victims of sexual abuse, a prohibited act involving pornography or prescribed sexual acts prohibited under the Criminal Code (Canada); and
  • A requirement to make publicly available information about disciplinary decisions made by the Colleges’ Discipline Committees, including for less serious acts leading to reprimands and admonishments, on the OCT and CECE registers and websites on a permanent basis.

The Government also announced that as of January 1st, the OCT has put in place a sexual abuse prevention program that all certified OCT members in good standing are required to complete by September 15, 2022. New and returning OCT applicants from January 1, 2022, are required to complete the sexual abuse prevention program (along with all other certification requirements) to receive their certifications. For the CECE, completion of the sexual abuse prevention program will form a component of all members’ continuous professional learning, beginning in July 2022. Ontario is currently the only jurisdiction in Canada to have such a program.

It is the government’s hope that by promoting these initiatives, sexual abuse will be stopped before it begins.

Child Pornography Under the Criminal Code

Offences relating to child pornography are found in Part V of the Criminal Code relating to “Sexual Offences, Public Morals and Disorderly Conduct”.


Child Pornography Defined

Child pornography is defined in the Criminal Code at section 163.1.

163.1(1) In this section child pornography means,

(a) a photographic, film, video or other visual representation, whether or not it was made by electronic or mechanical means,

(i) that shows a person who is or is depicted as being under the age of eighteen years and is engaged in or is depicted as engaged in explicit sexual activity, or

(ii) the dominant characteristic of which is the depiction, for a sexual purpose, of a sexual organ or the anal region of a person under the age of eighteen years

(b) any written material, visual representation or audio recording that advocates or counsels sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act;

(c) any written material whose dominant characteristic is the description, for a sexual purpose, of sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act; or

(d) any audio recording that has as its dominant characteristic the description, presentation or representation, for a sexual purpose, of sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act.

Offences Relating to Child Pornography

The Criminal Code specifies four different kinds of child pornography offences:

  • Making child pornography;
  • Distributing child pornography;
  • Accessing child pornography;
  • Possessing child pornography.

Making Child Pornography

This offence entails making, printing, publishing, or possessing child pornography for the purpose of publication. This is an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 14 years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year.

Distribution of Child Pornography

This offence entails making available, distributing, selling, advertising, importing, exporting, or possessing child pornography for the purpose of doing any of these things.

It is an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 14 years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year.

Possession of Child Pornography

To be found guilty of possessing child pornography, the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual had knowledge and control of any child pornography material. This means an individual may be found guilty of possessing child pornography if they have it directly in their personal possession, or if they knowingly placed it in the possession of another person or place for the use or benefit of themselves or of another person.

Every person who possesses any child pornography is guilty of:

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years less a day and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months.

Accessing child pornography

The offence of accessing child pornography involves knowingly causing child pornography to be viewed by an individual or transmitted to them. A person, therefore, need not only be in possession of child pornography to be guilty but can be guilty of an offence under the Criminal Code by viewing such material on the Internet.

(4.1) Every person who accesses any child pornography is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years less a day and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months.

Contact Hicks Adams in Toronto for Child Pornography Defence Consultation

At Hicks Adams LLP, are an experienced team of criminal defence lawyers who understand the personal and professional damage that comes with being charged with a sex crime such as child pornography. Our practiced team is ready to defend you against child pornography and other sex crime charges. To discuss your case, call us at 416-975-1700 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation.