Increase your understanding of consent. Share the information with your friends and family – talk about consent!

Consent is the difference between sex and a crime.[Criminal Code of Canada.]  It means that you and your partner freely agree to whatever sexual activity is happening, like kissing, touching and intercourse. And, you can change your mind any time. You have to give consent each and every time. You can’t give consent if you are sleeping or unconscious.

Sexual assault is the only violent crime in Canada that is not declining. Since 1999, rates of sexual assault have remained relatively unchanged.

Canadian Women’s Foundation

Age of Consent:

  • You have to be at least 16 years old to give consent.
  • If you are 14-16 years of age, you can consent to sexual activity as long as your partner is less than five years older and there is no relationship of trust, authority or dependency or any kind of exploitation.
  • If you are 12-13 you can consent to sexual activity as long as your partner is less than 2 years older and there is no relationship of trust, authority or dependency or any other exploitation. This means that if the partner is 2 years or older any sexual activity is a criminal offence.

It is not consent if:

  • If you say ‘no’ at any time
  • You say ‘yes’ because you are scared, tricked, bullied or pressured until you agree (that’s sexual coercion)
  • You are drunk or high
  • The other person assumes you are inviting something more, because you are wearing certain clothes, flirting, or kissing
  • The other person is a family member – such as a father, aunt, grandfather or cousin
  • The other person is in a position of authority over you, such as a caregiver or babysitter
  • The other person is a professional that you see in their job, such as a teacher, doctor, or coach. Even if you agree to it – it’s against the law for them. The crime is called sexual exploitation

96% of Canadians believe sexual activity between partners should be consensual, 67% do not understand what consent means.

Canadian Women’s Foundation

We don’t talk enough about consent. [RAINN: What does consent look like?] Some people worry that talking about consent will be awkward or that it will ruin the mood, which is not true. If anything, the mood is much more positive when both partners are happy and can openly communicate what they want.

Consent can look and sound like this:

  • Communicating when you change the type or degree of sexual activity with phrases like “Is this OK?”
  • Explicitly agreeing to certain activities, either by saying “yes” or another affirmative statement, like “I’m open to trying.”
  • Using physical cues to let the other person know you’re comfortable taking things to the next level. Communication is important because some people may not be comfortable with physical cues alone.

Consent is a topic we all need to better understand. Talk about it with people you trust. Your local sexual assault centre will have information as well as staff and volunteers who are able to talk with you about consent confidentially.

This video describes how making tea for a friend is like consent.


  • Emmaline May: Consent, not actually that complicated. Canadian Women’s Foundation (CWF)
  • Diane Hill: Two Reasons Canadians are confused about Sexual Consent. CWF


Further Reading & Resources