Sports Minister Freezes Government Funding for Canadian Hockey Following Sexual Violence Agreement

Hockey Canada’s federal funding has been frozen as a result of the national organization’s handling of alleged sexual violence and out-of-court settlement.

Sports Minister Pascal St. Ong said in a statement Wednesday that Hockey Canada would recover funding only after revealing recommendations for improvement provided by a third-party law firm hired to investigate the alleged incident four years ago.

Hockey Canada must also sign the Office of the Commissioner of Integrity, a new government agency with the power to independently investigate allegations of abuse and sanction misconduct.

“Hockey Canada will not receive more payments or new funding from Sport Canada until these conditions are met,” the St-Onge said in a statement.

The move comes after Hockey Canada President Scott Smith and outgoing CEO Tom Renee were outraged by lawmakers earlier this week during a hearing on the Canadian Heritage Standing Committee on the organization’s response to the alleged eight-player sexual violence .

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

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

Hockey Canada denies public funds used to settle allegations of sexual violence

Hockey Canada executives told a parliamentary committee that it had not used public funding to pay for an agreement following allegations of sexual violence against players.

Hockey Canada quietly settled the lawsuit last month after a woman said she was attacked by members of the country’s 2018 gold medalist by the World Youth Hockey Team in June of that year at a Hockey Canada event in London, Ont.

The 24-year-old woman has demanded $ 3.55 million in damages from Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and unnamed players. Details of the agreement have not been made public, but Smith said Monday that no government or insurance money has been used.

St-Onge said she learned of the allegations and the deal just two days before TSN revealed the story late last month after receiving a phone call from Renee.

A Hockey Canada spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

The criminal investigation was completed in 2019

Hockey Canada hired a law firm in Toronto, Henein Hutchison LLP, to conduct the investigation, but Smith and Renee told lawmakers attending the London event were not allowed to attend.

Renee initially said that 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 that the woman decided not to talk to the police or her investigators. Smith and Renee reiterated Monday that the woman also chose not to identify the players.

Smith said London police had informed Hockey Canada that his criminal investigation had been completed since February 2019. The independent investigation ended in September 2020, but Renee said the report was incomplete and should not be published.

“There is not much more we can offer in terms of information in this regard,” he testified on Monday.

“Unacceptable”

“Hockey Canada has said it will not share with the commission the advice it has received from the independent company … or how they plan to respond,” St. Ong said Wednesday. “We also heard that the independent investigation has not been completed, nor have the eight John Doe players been identified.

“That’s unacceptable.”

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

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

Smith testified that Hockey Canada had reported three complaints of sexual assault in recent years, including the London incident, but declined to discuss the other two with 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 over the past five or six years.

Not good enough, according to St-Onge.

“I cannot accept this standard as usual in our national sports organizations,” she said. “And Canadians don’t have to either.”

Federal money accounts for six percent of Hockey Canada’s funding, according to the organization, which lags behind business development and partnerships (43 percent), funding agencies (14 percent), insurance premiums (13 percent) and interest income (10 percent). cent).

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