Canada’s Minister of Sport announces new measures to protect athletes from mistreatment and abuse

Federal Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge, seen earlier this month, outlined a number of efforts to put in place a framework that will make the sport safer for all participants in Canada during an announcement at Montreal Sunday. (The Canadian Press – image credit)

In an effort to combat what Canada’s Minister of Sports has called a safe sport crisis in the country, Federal Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge announced a number of new measures on Sunday morning aimed at holding sports organizations accountable across the country. the country, with the ultimate goal of protecting athletes from mistreatment and abuse.

During the announcement in Montreal, St-Onge outlined a number of efforts to put in place a framework that will make the sport safer for all participants in Canada.

Beginning in April 2023, Sport Canada will amend contribution agreements with sport organizations that meet the new eligibility requirements of Sport Canada’s funding framework.

There will be improved checks and balances and increased accountability in place that will have a direct impact on sport organizations and their funding – sport organizations receiving federal funding will be required to meet specific governance, accountability and safe sport standards.

The new requirements and standards will be developed by Sport Canada over the coming months.

“We can’t change everything in a few weeks, but I wanted to give a public follow-up to our discussions and some ongoing work,” St-Onge said.

“It’s important to keep that dialogue going and to be able to tell athletes, families, organizations and their staff that the community is actively working to find solutions. From the discussions I’ve had, it’s clear that there is a shared desire to improve.”

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A new committee will be created to advise the Minister on matters relating to safety in sport in Canada. St-Onge says athletes will have a strong voice at the table, which reinforces his commitment to having athletes step into leadership roles. Athlete-centred coaching resources will also be created to ensure athletes are aware of their rights, including the services and supports available to them.

St-Onge also says she will continue to work with provincial and territorial sport ministers to better align safe sport frameworks at all levels across the country.

This all follows emergency roundtables held by the minister in late March to discuss needed changes to the sport framework in Canada. Over the past few months, gymnastics, boxing, bobsleigh and skeleton athletes have written letters to Sport Canada, asking for independent investigations into their organizations.

St-Onge says a number of observations have “clearly” emerged from their consultation over the past two months, including improved accountability of sports organizations, better governance practices within organizations and the increased representation of athletes in the sport system.

“Today’s measures are only part of the solution and they build on the work already done. We want a sport system where the well-being of athletes is just as important as their performance,” said declared St-Onge.

“We want a system that works for and with the athletes. We want everyone to regain confidence in the system and the joy that sport brings to our lives.”

As part of the new measures announced, St-Onge said Canada’s Sport Integrity Commissioner, Sarah-Eve Pelletier, will launch Phase 1 of her work beginning June 20. A budget of $16 million over three years has been proposed, with the intention of providing a safe and independent venue for victims and witnesses of abuse to report incidents.

St-Onge says the creation of the Office of the Sports Integrity Commissioner (OSIC) is an important step in challenging the “culture of silence” and providing athletes with a reliable way to report abuse and mistreatment.

COC makes $10 million investment

Meanwhile, a day earlier, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced a $10 million investment in safe sport initiatives.

COC CEO David Shoemaker said in a statement that athletes and sports leaders believe the current situation is untenable.

“We all want a safe and accessible system that also produces results on the global stage. To achieve this, we must work collaboratively to find and implement solutions,” Shoemaker said.

The COC says it will continue to work with athlete representatives, national sport organization leaders, Sport Canada, the Coaching Association of Canada, the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner and others to identify areas of investment, which may include prevention, education and governance. .

COC officials say the funding will also continue the work they have already done in areas such as increased mental health support for athletes and staff, support for governance changes and increased representation. athletes, and finding ways to make a difference at the local level.

The announcement was made during a three-day annual session held by the COC, bringing together its officers, board of directors and leaders of national sports organizations. Throughout the session, a series of safe sport conversations took place.

“This is an important announcement from the COC and an encouraging step in the right direction for the entire Canadian sport system,” said Rosie MacLennan, two-time Olympic champion and chair of the COC’s Athletes’ Commission.

“For athletes to perform at their best, we need a system that is safe, fair and that puts the mental and physical health of athletes at the centre. This new funding and commitment to working with the athlete community will help make that a priority.”

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