Safe Sport Announcement


Speaking Notes

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport


Ottawa, ON - Feb 21, 2019


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Thank you, Kate, my Parliamentary Secretary, for those kind words.

I want to acknowledge that we gather on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishnabeg people.

I’m honoured to share the podium with Lorraine Lafrenière, Chief Executive Officer of the Coaching Association of Canada—she is a tireless advocate for safe sport.

We are here to talk about the work we are doing, together, to make our sport system more dynamic and safer for all Canadians.

Since being appointed Minister of Sport one year ago, I have worked hard to put athletes and children in sport at the centre of everything we do, from the playground to the podium.

This includes, first and foremost, keeping them safe from abuse, discrimination and harassment.

Nothing is more important to me.

No athlete or child in sport should ever experience abuse, and my heart breaks for those who have suffered.

I am referring here to recent media reports and other reports of serious instances, including allegations and criminal convictions of sexual abuse in sport in Canada.

This is a systemic problem in sport that requires a culture shift, and everyone has a role to play to make this happen.

Today, we are taking two more steps to collectively make changes we want to see in Canadian sport.

First, our government is providing funding to the Coaching Association of Canada to support the development of a model Code of Conduct for sport in Canada.

Our initial investment of more than $200,000 will help the Association carry out a series of regional summits culminating in a national Safe Sport Summit this spring.

These summits will include athletes, coaches, child advocates, researchers, sports organizations and governments from across the country.

Lorraine will speak in more detail about the process in a minute.

A model nationwide Code of Conduct is another step toward ensuring harmonized action to prevent abuse in all sports, at all levels.

This model Code of Conduct will be available to any sport organization in the country to make their sport safer.

It will also serve as a basis for training programs, the management of abuse, discrimination, and harassment cases, and a model for common sanctioning for those who breach the Code.

The second step we are taking today is that our government is creating a Gender Equity Secretariat at Sport Canada.

By developing, implementing and monitoring gender equity initiatives and ensuring positive outcomes across the Canadian sport system, this new Secretariat will help us meet our target of achieving gender equity in sport at every level by 2035—although my goal is to get this done much sooner.

Funding for these two initiatives will flow from our government’s Budget 2018 investment of $30 million to support the participation and retention of women and girls in all aspects of the Canadian sport system.

When we make sport safer and more inclusive, we make sport better for everyone.

As you know, my priority from week one has been ending abuse in sport.

Last April, I announced a Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport to share experiences, perspectives and insights on gender-based violence and promote safe sport.

The group did amazing work, and I want to thank the blue-ribbon panel for informing the important steps we will continue to take in the coming months.

Then, in June, I announced new measures for federally funded sport organizations. I made clear I would withhold funding unless they:

  • Strengthen their mandatory anti-harassment, abuse and discrimination policies;
  • Immediately disclose any incident of harassment, abuse or discrimination;
  • Put in place an independent third party to address these cases; and,
  • Provide mandatory training to their members by April 2020.

It’s also important to remember this problem spans jurisdictions. That’s why I engaged the provinces and territories and personally spoke to each of my Ministerial counterparts throughout the summer and fall about the need for collective action to end abuse, discrimination and harassment.

And, last week, we all met in Red Deer, on the eve of the 2019 Canada Winter Games, where we endorsed the Red Deer Declaration for the Prevention of Abuse, Discrimination and Harassment in Sport.

I am grateful to my provincial and territorial colleagues for their dedication, collaboration and tireless work in this regard.

With this declaration, we made some clear commitments.

In Red Deer, we agreed:

  • That all Canadians have the right to participate in sport—in an environment that is safe, welcoming, inclusive, ethical and respectful. An environment that protects the dignity, rights and health of all participants.
  • That there must be zero tolerance for gender-based violence and abuse in sport.
  • And that we will work together to implement a collaborative, intergovernmental approach to address harassment, abuse and discrimination in sport—in the areas of awareness, policy, prevention, reporting, management and monitoring.

Targeted investments, strong partnerships and a collective determination to make change happen—these are the ingredients for success as we focus on protecting our athletes and children in sport.

The message is clear: the days of silence and looking the other way are over.

We must—and we will—do everything in our power to make our sport system safer, healthier and more inclusive for all Canadians.

Working together, we will make sport safer for Canadians.

Thank you.

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