Sports minister freezes Hockey Canada’s government funding in wake of sex assault settlement

Hockey Canada’s federal funding is frozen following the national organization’s handling of an alleged sexual assault and an out-of-court settlement.

Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge said in a statement Wednesday that Hockey Canada would only get its funding after disclosing recommendations for improvement provided by a third-party law firm hired to investigate the alleged incident. Four years ago.

Hockey Canada must also become a signatory to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner, a new government body with the power to independently investigate complaints of abuse and sanction inappropriate behavior.

“Hockey Canada will not receive any further payments or new funding from Sport Canada until they comply with these terms,” ​​the St-Onge statement read.

The move comes after Hockey Canada President Scott Smith and outgoing CEO Tom Renney were questioned by MPs earlier this week during a Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage hearing on the organization’s response. to the alleged sexual assault involving eight players.

“Hockey Canada’s testimony did not provide us with enough information,” St-Onge said in his statement. “We haven’t learned much, and what we have learned is deeply troubling.”

WATCH | Hockey Canada denies public funds used to settle sexual assault allegations:

Hockey Canada denies using public funds to settle sexual assault allegation

Hockey Canada executives told a parliamentary committee they did not use public funds to pay a settlement following allegations of sexual assault against players.

Hockey Canada quietly settled the lawsuit last month after a woman claimed she was assaulted by members of the 2018 gold medal-winning World Junior Hockey team in June of that year at a Hockey reception. Canada to London, Ontario.

The woman, now 24, was seeking $3.55 million in damages from Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and Players Anonymous. Details of the settlement were not made public, but Smith said Monday that no government or insurance money was used.

St-Onge said she only learned of the allegations and the settlement two days before TSN ran the story late last month after receiving a phone call from Renney.

A Hockey Canada spokeswoman did not respond to an email request for comment Wednesday.

Criminal investigation closed in 2019

Hockey Canada has hired Toronto law firm Henein Hutchison LLP to conduct its investigation, but Smith and Renney told MPs players at the London event were not mandated to attend.

Renney initially said between four and six of the 19 players in question spoke to investigators before Smith later said the number was 12 or 13.

Hockey Canada has repeatedly said the woman has decided not to speak to police or their investigators. Smith and Renney reiterated on Monday that the woman also chose not to identify the players.

Smith said London police informed Hockey Canada that their criminal investigation was closed in February 2019. The independent investigation concluded in September 2020, but Renney said the report was incomplete and should not be released.

“We don’t have much more to offer in terms of information along those lines,” he said on Monday.

‘Unacceptable’

“Hockey Canada said it would not share with the committee the advice it received from the independent firm…or how it intends to respond to it,” St-Onge said Wednesday. “We have also heard that the independent investigation has not been completed and John Doe’s eight players have not been identified.

“This is unacceptable.”

The NHL, which also only recently learned of the allegations, is conducting its own investigation as some of the players in question are now in the league.

Hockey Canada received $14 million from Ottawa in 2020 and 2021, including $3.4 million in COVID-19 grants, according to government records obtained by CBC and TSN.

Smith said Hockey Canada has reported three sexual assault complaints in recent years, including the London incident, but would not discuss the other two before the committee.

“I can’t comment on the level of investigation of the other two,” Smith said, adding that there have been one to two complaints of sexual misconduct each for the past five or six years.

Not good enough, according to St-Onge.

“I cannot accept this standard as if nothing has happened in our national sports organizations,” she said. “And neither should Canadians.”

Federal money represents six per cent of Hockey Canada’s funding, according to organizational figures, business development and partnerships (43 per cent), funding bodies (14 per cent), insurance premiums (13 percent) and interest income (10 percent). hundred).

Leave a Comment