The Government of Canada Is Making Sport Safer and More Inclusive for Our Athletes and Children in Sport

News release

VANCOUVER, March 15, 2019

Sport helps millions of Canadians across the country make new friends, stay physically and mentally fit, and express themselves. Our athletes and our children should always feel safe to play, coach, or be part of sport in any way they wish. That is why this week the Government of Canada took steps to ensure that sport is accessible and free from harassment, abuse and discrimination.

On Wednesday, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, announced funding to the Sport Dispute Resolution Center of Canada (SDRCC) to launch two services:

  • A third-party, independent investigation unit that national sport organizations, multisport service organizations and Canadian sport centres can call in to investigate alleged incidents of abuse, discrimination, and harassment. This new pilot service is key as it ensures that sport organizations are not investigating their own members.

  • A new national toll-free confidential helpline that provides a safe place for victims and witnesses of harassment, abuse and discrimination to speak in confidence to a neutral third party to get the help they need. It serves as a professional listening and referral service.

On Thursday, Minister Duncan announced funding to the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) to support its efforts to increase participation of women and girls in sport as athletes and leaders.

These concrete steps to help achieve the target of gender equity in sport at all levels by 2035 build on several initiatives recently put in place.

Last April, Minister Duncan convened a Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport to gather the experiences, perspectives and insights of 12 champions to make sport safer and more inclusive. The Working Group’s recommendations are now available on its website.

This was followed in June with news that Minister Duncan would withhold funding from federally funded national sport organizations if they do not institute specific measures to foster healthy and safe sport environments.

As well, the Minister recently announced the development of a Code of Conduct for sport at all levels, from national sports organizations to community teams. This code will serve as a basis for the management of harassment, abuse and discrimination cases and as a model for common sanctioning for those who breach the Code.

She also established a federal Gender Equity Secretariat to develop, implement and monitor a gender equity strategy for sport in Canada. The goal of this Secretariat is to bring about greater participation of women in leadership roles, coaching and officiating, which in turn contributes to greater safety in sport.

This all builds on the recent Red Deer Declaration agreed to by the Government of Canada and all provincial and territorial governments to move toward the elimination of abuse, discrimination and harassment in sport.

The Government of Canada also announced support for AthletesCAN in conducting a study to measure athlete experience with all forms of maltreatment, including sexual, emotional and physical abuse, neglect, harassment, bullying, exploitation and discrimination in Canada.


“We are putting our athletes and children in sport first from the playground to the podium by increasing access to sport for girls and women and creating a safe space for victims and witnesses of harassment, abuse and discrimination to get the help they need. This is part of the systemic culture change we are creating so everyone can experience the best sport has to offer.

—The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport

Quick facts

  • In the 2018 Federal Budget, the Government of Canada announced a target to achieve gender equality in sport at every level by 2035. This included an initial three-year commitment of $30 million to support data and research and innovative practices to promote the participation of women and girls in sport, and provide support to national sports organizations to promote the greater inclusion of women and girls in all facets of sport.

  • Recent research notes that:

    • 41 percent of girls aged 3 to 17 and 84 percent of women do not participate in sport;

    • 38 percent of senior staff of national multisport service organizations are women;

    • 29 percent of board members are women; and

      only 34.9 percent of certified coaches are women, and only 30 percent of officials are women.

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Daniele Medlej
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Science and Sport

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage

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