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Age of Consent to Sexual Activity, Dating a Minor and other Frequently Asked Questions


What does the "age of consent" or "age of protection" mean?

The age of consent, also known as the "age of protection", refers to the age at which a young person can legally consent to sexual activity. All sexual activity without consent, regardless of age, is a criminal offence.

To what kind of sexual activity does this apply?

The age of consent laws apply to all forms of sexual activity, ranging from sexual touching (e.g., kissing) to sexual intercourse.

What is Canada's age of consent?

The age of consent for sexual activity is 16 years. It was raised from 14 years on May 1, 2008 by the Tackling Violent Crime Act.

However, the age of consent is 18 years where the sexual activity "exploits" the young person -- when it involves prostitution, pornography or occurs in a relationship of authority, trust or dependency (e.g., with a teacher, coach or babysitter). Sexual activity can also be considered exploitative based on the nature and circumstances of the relationship, e.g., the young person's age, the age difference between the young person and their partner, how the relationship developed (quickly, secretly, or over the Internet) and how the partner may have controlled or influenced the young person.

Are 16 and 17 year olds also protected against sexual exploitation?

The Criminal Code protects 16 and 17 year olds against sexual exploitation, where the sexual activity occurs within a relationship of trust, authority, dependency or where there is other exploitation. Whether a relationship is considered to be exploiting the 16 or 17 year old will depend upon the nature and circumstances of the relationship, e.g., the age of the young person, the age difference between the young person and their partner, how the relationship developed and how the partner may have controlled or influenced the young person. As well, 16 and 17 year olds cannot consent to sexual activity that involves prostitution or pornography.