Federal government freezing Hockey Canada's funding

Steve Russell / Toronto Star / Getty

The federal government is freezing Hockey Canada's funding until the organization signs up with a federal agency that can independently investigate abuse complaints and issue sanctions, Minster of Sport Pascale St-Onge told TSN's Rick Westhead.

"This is about changing a deeply entrenched culture, it's not about simple Band-Aid solutions," St-Onge said Wednesday.

The federal agency is the new Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner, which began receiving and addressing complaints regarding Canada's national sports teams on Monday.

In a settled lawsuit filed in April, a woman said eight unnamed CHL players, including members of Canada's 2018 world junior team, sexually assaulted her in June of that same year in a London, Ontario, hotel following a Hockey Canada event.

The lawsuit wasn't heard in court and the amount awarded for the settlement is unknown, but the plaintiff asked the judge to award $3.55 million.

Canada's House of Commons has unanimously approved a motion from Bloc Quebecois MP Sebastien Lemire to pursue an independent investigation of how Hockey Canada managed the allegations back in 2018, per Westhead.

St-Onge added that, in order to get more funding, Hockey Canada must also detail its plans to implement change in the organization and publicly disclose the recommendations made by the Henein Hutchison law firm it hired to investigate the allegations.

Hockey Canada received $14 million from the federal government in 2020 and 2021 and recently applied for $2.2 million to help recover from COVID-19. St-Onge said it won't receive the money until the outlined conditions are met.

Hockey Canada president Scott Smith and outgoing CEO Tom Renney testified Monday regarding the settlement. Smith said the organization has dealt with one or two allegations of sexual assault per year over the past five or six years and is currently investigating two other sexual assault complaints. Renney said Hockey Canada never received a complete report from Henein Hutchison.

St-Onge ordered an audit of Hockey Canada's financial activity to determine whether it used public funds in the settlement. Hockey Canada insisted it didn't draw from taxpayer money.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the investigation of Hockey Canada's settled lawsuit on Tuesday.

"As a government, we have continually stood up to push back against sexual misconduct and harassment in organizations and workplaces across the country," he said, per TSN. "Hockey Canada is no different."

Trudeau added, "This behavior is unacceptable."

St-Onge added that Hockey Canada must become a signatory to the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport to receive public funding again. That would give the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner control over abuse investigations.

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Federal government freezing Hockey Canada's funding
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