Hockey Canada outlines plan to combat ‘toxic’ culture

Hockey Canada released a plan on Monday to combat “toxic” culture in its sport. It precedes a second round of parliamentary hearings into the organization’s handling of sexual assault complaints.

The plan includes having a centralized abuse complaint tracking and reporting system in place by the end of September, the results of which will be published annually to “hold Hockey Canada accountable.”

The organization will also publish an annual social responsibility report containing information on complaints received at both national team and sub-national level and a dashboard based on “key performance indicators”. Hockey Canada said it is in the process of identifying metrics to include in the scorecard.

Hockey Canada did not say what complaint data will be made public in the report, but historical sexual assault allegations will not be included.

Hockey Canada also says it will implement enhanced screening for high-level players – “taking into account their behavior and background outside of their time with Hockey Canada and off the ice.” Violating the organization’s code of conduct or refusing to participate in a survey may result in a lifetime ban.

These measures are in addition to those announced by Hockey Canada in a July 14 open letter, which has come under intense criticism for the organization’s handling of a sexual assault allegation involving eight players and the settlement of a lawsuit that followed following a 2018 gala in London, Ontario. A second allegation of sexual assault involving the Canadian team participating in the 2003 junior championship in Halifax, Nova Scotia surfaced on Friday.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The National Women’s Hockey Team released a statement to Hockey Canada on Monday, saying the allegations are “extremely disturbing and completely unacceptable” and that the team “intends to be part of the fight for the truth.” “.

“All facts related to this terrible situation must – and will be – revealed,” the letter states. “After all, the only way to deal with a hurt is to fully acknowledge it.”

The team also said the governing body’s plan is encouraging, but that “much more work and action” is needed to “fully address the underlying issues”, as does having ” women at the table as this process evolves”.

Hockey Canada had its federal funding frozen and several corporate partners suspended sponsorships after former CEO Tom Renney and current President and CEO Scott Smith testified about their handling of the 2018 allegation. during a parliamentary hearing on June 20. Smith and Renney said the 19 players at the Ontario event were “strongly encouraged” to speak to third-party investigators, but were not instructed to do so.

Hockey Canada plans an independent review of its governance and a commitment to become a full signatory to the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner, a new government body with the power to independently investigate complaints of abuse and to impose penalties. Hockey Canada has also previously said it will create an independent mechanism to deal with complaints at the regional, provincial and local levels, which are not covered by the OSIC.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage will hear testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Smith and Renney were subpoenaed to testify on Wednesday, along with the leaders of the Canadian Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League , as well as Glen McCurdie, former vice-president of insurance and risk management for Hockey Canada. .

The Canadian Press reported on July 18 that Hockey Canada maintains a fund that draws from minor hockey membership fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims. This fund will no longer be used to settle sexual assault claims.

The action plan released Monday also includes mandatory chaperones for underage athletes at Hockey Canada events to enforce curfews and ensure no alcohol is consumed, as well as more events of “open bar”.


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