Minister St-Onge provides update and announces action on safe sport
MONTRÉAL, June 12, 2022 /CNW Telbec/ – The Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, accompanied by sport leaders and athlete representatives, provided an update on and announced measures for safe sport.
First, the Minister followed up on the roundtables launched on March 31, when an initial emergency meeting with various leaders of the sport system was convened to start a dialogue to identify collective solutions.
She noted that several observations clearly emerged from this period of consultation, including the need to improve organizations’ accountability, the need to promote better governance practices within organizations, and the need to increase the representation and voice of athletes in our system.
Second, the Minister took the opportunity to announce new measures that fall within her jurisdiction and will be led by Sport Canada.
Responsibility, Accountability and Governance: Effective April 1, 2023, Sport Canada will make changes to contribution agreements with organizations that will meet the new eligibility requirements of the Sport Funding and Accountability Framework. The goal is to ensure that sport organizations receiving federal funding meet specific governance, accountability and safe sport standards. Over the next few months, Sport Canada will work to develop new requirements and standards to achieve this objective.
Sport Canada Athlete Advisory Committee: This committee will be created to increase the representation of athletes in the sport system and to allow Sport Canada to obtain advice and guidance that reflect the realities of athletes in Canada.
The Minister also stressed the importance of the creation of the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC), which will become operational on June 20. She noted that this independent mechanism will gradually become mandatory for all national sport organizations. She described the establishment of the OSIC as an important step to challenge the culture of silence and to provide a clear and reliable way for all participants in sport to report abuse and mistreatment and to be heard and supported. Budget 2022 proposed an investment of $16 million over three years to support the OSIC.
Finally, Minister St-Onge committed to continuing the work, noting that these new measures are only part of the solution, which is that responsibility must be shared by all leaders in the field. She concluded by noting the importance of the consultations for the renewal of the Canadian Sport Policy in the current context and expressed her support for a constructive dialogue with provincial and territorial partners, which is essential to achieve a change in sport culture.
The Government and its sport partners will continue to work together to ensure that we collectively create a safe and inclusive sport environment for all Canadians.
“We can’t change everything in a few weeks, but I wanted to follow up publicly on our discussions and some of the work that is underway. It’s important to keep this 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. 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. We want a system that works for and with athletes. We want everyone to regain confidence in the system and the joy that sport brings to our lives.”
—The Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
“I want to commend Minister St-Onge for her focus, care and commitment to making sport safer in Canada. We all agree that the status quo is untenable. By working together and listening to athletes, sport leaders and other stakeholders, we can achieve the safe and barrier-free sport system we all want.”
—David Shoemaker, CEO and Secretary General, Canadian Olympic Committee
“These are significant steps that have been taken to help create a sport system that is free of maltreatment, and a system that is safe, welcoming, and inclusive for athletes at all levels of sport. This is incredibly important work for the entire sport community, and we will continue to do this work with Minister St-Onge and all of our sport partners to reimagine a better sport system in Canada.”
—Karen O’Neill, CEO, Canadian Paralympic Committee
“I’d like to thank the Minister for her concern and attention to this pressing issue. It’s clear that trust in the system has been breached, and it must be restored. We need to listen to athletes and keep their health and well-being at the centre of the sport system. And we need to work together to address these issues and build a safe system for everyone.”
—Rosie MacLennan, Chair, COC Athletes’ Commission
“We applaud the work of Minister St-Onge in swiftly taking action to enact new safe sport initiatives and engage the entire sport community towards positive change. Safe sport is a critical issue that must be solved within our sport system, and the athlete voice is one of the most important when it comes to finding solutions. The work is not done yet, and together athletes will do the work and demand accountability to ensure a safe sport system for each and every participant.”
—Tony Walby, Chair, Canadian Paralympic Athletes’ Council
On April 5, 2022, the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada announced the appointment of Sarah–Ève Pelletier as Canada’s first Sport Integrity Commissioner, to oversee Canada’s new safe sport program. Ms. Pelletier is a former national team athlete in the sport of artistic swimming who has years of experience as a strategic, business and legal professional in the global sport industry.
The Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner of Canada is an independent body that will receive complaints about alleged violations of the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS).
The Code of Conduct sets out the harmonized rules to be adopted by sport organizations funded by the Government of Canada. These rules aim to promote a respectful sport culture that offers quality, inclusive, accessible, welcoming and safe sport experiences.
Details of new measures to be led by Sport Canada
The following actions are underway:
Accountability, Reporting and Governance
- Effective April 1, 2023, Sport Canada will make changes to contribution agreements with organizations that meet the new eligibility requirements of the Sport Funding and Accountability Framework. The objective is to ensure that sport organizations receiving federal funding meet specific governance, accountability and safe sport standards. Over the next few months, Sport Canada will be working to develop new requirements and standards to achieve this objective.
Sport Canada Athlete Advisory Committee
- This committee will be created to increase athlete representation in the sport system and to allow Sport Canada to obtain advice and guidance consistent with the lived experience of athletes in Canada.
Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner
- The Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC) was created to provide the sport system and athletes with a safe and reliable channel for complaints.
- OSIC is mandated to receive, investigate and adjudicate complaints from members of national sport organizations under the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS), a formula that ensures OSIC’s independence and instills confidence in all those who use its services.
- Budget 2022 proposed an investment of $16 million over three years to support the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner.
Canadian Sport Policy
- Work is underway to renew the Canadian Sport Policy to reflect the diverse perspectives of the Canadian public.
- A consultation will be conducted specifically on the issue of safety in sport to ensure that the new version of the policy contributes to a change in sport culture.
- The Canadian Sport Policy will serve as a roadmap to guide progress over the next 10 years (2023–2033) towards the desired state of Canadian sport. It is based on current data and consultations with interested stakeholders around various themes (including diversity, equity and inclusion). Canadians are invited to take the survey and share their views on how we can shape the future of sport in Canada.
Working with the Provinces and Territories
- At this summer’s federal-provincial-territorial sport ministers’ conference in Niagara, Ontario, the Minister will continue to work with her provincial and territorial counterparts in sport to promote pan-Canadian cohesion on safe sport.
All of these new measures build on the Government of Canada’s significant actions and investments over the past few years to create a safer, more welcoming and more inclusive sport environment.
SOURCE Canadian Heritage