Hockey Canada published an action plan on Monday in a bid to address “systemic issues in hockey,” including the introduction of a “system to track and report all complaints of mistreatment, abuse and harassment.”
As part of this plan, Hockey Canada will also increase training for players, coaches, staff and volunteers to teach them about consent, masculinity and toxic behaviors.
A “full” review will also take place for training programs, and high-level players will go through “enhanced character selection”. A breach of its code of conduct or failure to participate in an investigation could result in a lifetime ban from Hockey Canada programs, the organization said.
Hockey Canada also previously announced a third-party review to “fully examine our organization and make recommendations to ensure that our governance is suited to the demands of a national organization of our size and influence.”
The organization has recently come under heavy criticism for its handling of 2018 sexual assault allegations involving players in its world junior programme.
Then on Friday, new allegations dating back almost two decades surfaced. Halifax police have announced they are opening a new investigation into an alleged sexual assault in 2003 involving members of the 2003 Canadian junior team. Hockey Canada, the London Police Department and the NHL are each investigating the assault 2018 separate alleged sexual assault involving members of the 2017-18 World Junior Team following a Hockey Canada event.
Hockey Canada said it learned of the 2003 allegations through TSN reporter Rick Westhead, who told the organization he had spoken to several witnesses to the alleged assault. Hockey Canada said it contacted Halifax Regional Police after receiving the email.
“Hockey Canada is committed to ending the culture of silence in hockey,” said a Hockey Canada Statement said. “That’s why we are publicly calling on anyone with knowledge of this incident to come forward to the police, and we are being transparent about how we learned of this alleged assault and the steps we are taking to address it.”
The organization was also named in a lawsuit that alleged eight players sexually assaulted a young woman in 2018. The lawsuit, which was resolved by a settlement agreement between Hockey Canada and the woman who made the allegations, was filed in April and became public in May. .
Since then, sponsors including Tim Hortons, Scotiabank, Canadian Tire and Telus have said they will withdraw their sponsorship and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the organization’s handling of the allegations “unacceptable”. In the wake of the scandal, a committee of members of Canadian Parliament investigates Hockey Canada.
Additionally, the Globe and Mail reported last week that Hockey Canada used a multimillion-dollar fund, funded by youth player registration fees, to pay for alleged sexual assault cases. Hockey Canada has since announced that it will no longer use the fund to settle sexual assault cases.
The players of the Canadian women’s team said in a report On Monday, they “join all Canadians in demanding a thorough and transparent investigation into the incidents in question as well as the structure, governance and environment that exist within the organization.”
“We are encouraged by the action plan you announced earlier, but it is only one step, as you acknowledge in your statement, towards addressing toxic behaviors. There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that a new Hockey Canada emerges from the crisis,” added the team.
(Top photo: Jérôme Miron / USA Today)