The funding of Canadian sports federations will be reviewed as of April 2023 in order to make them more accountable, Minister Pascale St-Onge announced yesterday, in the wake of numerous revelations of abuse, mistreatment and mismanagement made recently by hundreds of athletes.
This decision is one of the measures that Canada’s Minister of Sport wishes to put in place to protect Canadian athletes in the context of a “safe sport crisis”, as she herself has called it.
In recent months, athletes from several Canadian federations – boxing, gymnastics, skeleton and bobsleigh, in particular – have published open letters to denounce the various abuses of which they claim to be victims.
Tags to define
Some gymnasts, for example, say they were beaten by coaches or forced to train until they were exhausted. Others recounted being pressured for years to lose weight.
“My link with the system is mainly through funding,” said Ms. St-Onge.
The beacons have not yet been established, pointed out the minister. “We can’t change everything in a few weeks, but I wanted to follow up publicly on the discussions we had [depuis les tables rondes de mars] and the work we have done,” she added.
Thus, M.me St-Onge announced that sports organizations that receive federal funding will have to meet specific standards with respect to management, accountability and security.
- Listen to the interview of the Honorable Pascale St-Onge with Geneviève Pettersen on QUB radio:
These new standard prerequisites will be developed by Sport Canada in the coming months. But national sports federations can expect to see their actions come under greater scrutiny.
“This review is essential,” said the minister. It will allow us to strengthen our ability to carry out follow-ups and verifications, in order to ensure that the standards are met by the organizations.”
One of these new requirements, she also said, will be to gradually make membership in the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner mandatory.
This independent committee dubbed the BCIS, which had already been announced at the end of March, will launch its operations on June 20. It will be led by former artistic swimmer Sarah-Eve Pelletier, who worked as a lawyer after her sports career ended and for the Canadian Olympic Committee.
In the most recent federal budget, $16 million was allocated over three years to support the BCIS, which will be responsible for receiving complaints.
“It gives athletes a clear path to report cases of abuse and mistreatment,” said Ms.me St-Onge. This is a major step forward in our sport system.”
Yesterday, the Minister also announced the establishment of a committee made up of athletes, so that they can make their voices heard in the discussions.
“Our goal is to achieve a balance between the performance and the well-being of athletes, in a sport system that works for them and with them, she underlined. We want everyone to rediscover the confidence in the system and the joy that represents sport in our lives.”
Badly received by gymnasts
Yesterday’s announcements did not cheer Gymnasts4Change, the group behind the open letter exposing abuses at Gymnastics Canada.
“We still don’t have an abuse prevention strategy,” they wrote to the Log. What was discussed [hier] means that the abuse will have already happened and the burden remains on the shoulders of the athletes, who will have to go through a difficult process.
“There are over 1,000 Canadian athletes, in multiple sports, waiting for a solution to the problems that already exist. These cannot be settled by a process that only looks forward. If we don’t examine the past, there will be no opportunity to make amendments, to help athletes in their healing.”