Ottawa announcing process to review abuse in Canadian sports

Minister of Sport Carla Qualtrough is expected to announce Monday the process the government will use to review systemic abuse and human rights violations in sports.

Qualtrough told a forum in Geneva last week that she would reveal the details of a “formal, independent mechanism” that would be “trauma-informed.”

“[Qualtrough] … will announce new safe sport measures to continue to address the causes of and prevent maltreatment in Canada’s sport system on Monday,” the government said in a press release. 

The long-awaited announcement comes after the federal government was accused by elite athletes of failing to act in response to abuse in sports. Athletes and their advocates have called on Ottawa to launch a national public inquiry. 

A parliamentary committee also recommended the federal government move forward with a public inquiry into abuse and harassment in sport. That committee investigated the issue and concluded in its final report that there has been a “long-standing pattern of normalizing abuse and maltreatment” in Canada.

Qualtrough’s announcement also comes a day ahead of her appearance at the standing committee on Canadian heritage probing sports abuse where she is expected to face questions about why she hasn’t yet called a public inquiry.

WATCH/ Qualtrough says new safe sport mechanism is coming 

Qualtrough says new safe sport mechanism is coming

Federal Sport Minister Carla Qualtrough explains why the government will announce a new mechanism for safe sport next week.

Abuse in sports came into the national spotlight in Canada last year after Hockey Canada reached a settlement with a young woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted in London, Ont. in 2017 by eight hockey players, including members of the World Junior team that year. 

Hockey parents were outraged to learn that their registration fees were going into the National Equity Fund without their knowledge — and that the reserve fund was used to pay out millions of dollars in sexual abuse claims over the years. 

Two parliamentary committees launched investigations into abuse in sport. Elite athletes, including Olympic boxer Myriam Da Silva Rondeau, fencer Emily Mason, and soccer players Ciara McCormak and Andrea Neil, testified about the mental and physical abuse they faced from coaches and officials.

WATCH/ Elite athletes want government action against abuse in sport  

Elite athletes want government action against abuse in sport

Elite athletes from multiple sports testified about abuse and sexual misconduct at the hands of coaches before a parliamentary committee. They say Canada needs a national inquiry into abuse in sport to protect the next generation.

Former minister of sport Pascale-St-Onge repeated her commitment in May to respond to athlete’s requests for a public inquiry.

“I would like to reiterate my commitment and clear any doubts that may remain,” she said. “I will respond to the requests from athletes and survivors for a national inquiry. This is a legitimate request and I’m working to be able to announce this as soon as I can.”

The Bloc Québécois called on St-Onge last week to explain why a public inquiry had not yet been launched. St-Onge told the standing committee on Canadian Heritage in French that a national discussion on such a serious issue must be done the right way, and “unfortunately there was a re-shuffle and I wasn’t able to continue down that road.”

St-Onge told that committee the matter is no longer under her control and she supports whatever the government decides to do.

Qualtrough said last week she also will be announcing a “series of immediate actions” to address issues that abuse survivors have exposed.

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