Backgrounder: Minister St-Onge announces new measures to improve accountability and foster a safe and sustainable culture change in sport
To drive change and ensure that athletes, coaches and other participants are holistically supported and have access to safe, healthy and inclusive sport experiences, Minister St-Onge announced the following actions:
- To receive federal funding, all National Sport Organizations (NSOs) will be required to adopt the Canadian Sport Governance Code and make the corresponding changes to their governance structures by April 2025.
- These changes include:
- At least 40% of board members will need to be independent, and no staff member of the organization can sit on the board.
- To favor equity, diversity and perspective, no more than 60% of board members can be of the same gender, and sport organizations should develop a policy for diversity at the board level.
- Athlete representation on Boards will be mandatory. Sport Canada will work with the sport community to achieve this objective.
- All new board members will need to receive a proper orientation regarding their roles and responsibilities as directors, including instruction on good governance practices and governance policies.
- Each board member shall be subject to a term limit (9 years maximum, comprised of multiple terms).
- NSOs’ annual financial statements in their entirety will need to be audited and posted on the organization’s website within six months of year end.
- NSOs’ minutes of member meetings will need to be published on their website. Publishing timelines will be provided.
- NSOs will be required to publish their terms of reference for all committees.
- NSOs will be required to publish online an annual report on diversity at the board level. The report should include the approach and initiatives taken to attract directors with the required skills and diversity (including with respect to gender representation), whether it considers its initiatives successful and any additional steps the board will be making towards this objective.
Sport Canada’s Compliance and Accountability Unit
- Budget 2023 proposes to provide $13.8 million over three years, starting in 2022-23, to the Department of Canadian Heritage to enhance accountability and support efforts to build a safe and accountable sport system through the establishment of new expectations, and enhanced monitoring and compliance with contribution agreements.
- Sport Canada will have a compliance unit with new expertise in governance, equity, diversity and inclusion and dedicated resources.
- This compliance unit will work with experts to define the right markers and indicators to monitor NSO performance in various areas, such as governance (including transparency), safe sport, athlete representation, etc. The performance of NSOs in these areas will be tracked through the development of action plans with NSOs, and the objectives will be tied to part of their funding. Failing to achieve improvements will have escalating repercussions, such as financial consequences for NSOs.
- These plans will need to be in place by April 2024 to access Government of Canada funding.
Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
- AthletesCAN’s revised Athlete Agreement makes it clear that the rights of athletes under the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS) cannot be restricted. The language in the Athlete Agreement will be a requirement for all NSOs to integrate.
- Sport Canada, through funding agreements with NSOs, will prohibit any NSO contracts, policies, procedures or actions from restricting participants’ rights under the UCCMS, in line with national efforts to that regard.
Athletes at the heart of decision-making structures
- AthletesCAN will receive Sport Canada funding to enhance the voices of athletes within the sport system through the following two themes:
- $200,000 will be allocated towards collaboration on governance training opportunities for athletes, to help the organization strengthen its capacity and collaboration within the sport system to continue representing the collective voice of national team athletes.
- $100,000 will be allocated toward collaboration with existing athletes committees and commissions to strengthen and unify the voices of athletes across the sport system.
- The Sport Canada Athlete Advisory Committee has been put in place to increase the representation of athletes in the sport system, and to allow Sport Canada to obtain advice and guidance that reflects the realities of athletes in Canada. The membership of the committee will be announced shortly.
- Sport Canada will be offering the opportunity for two national team athletes per year to participate in paid internships at Sport Canada. This is an opportunity to support athletes in their professional development.
Maltreatment education and prevention
- Sport Canada will work with partners in the sport system and dedicate $1 million in funding through the Sport Support Program to develop robust, consistent and system-wide promotion of the tools and resources regarding harassment, abuse and discrimination, such as the UCCMS. The Canadian Olympic Committee has committed to match the funding.
Standards and certifications for coaches
- Sport Canada is providing funding of $250,000 to the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) for international coach training and orientation, and for a consistent approach to screening and designation of coaches.
- The funding Sport Canada is providing to the CAC for this program will help, among other things, to off-set the costs coaches incur to obtain the Registered Coach or ChPC designation. Supporting coaches in completing the background screenings, the professional coach application and assisting with associated fees will remove two significant barriers for coaches and sports. It will also build trust across the sport system and define an industry standard.
- The CAC will work with all partners to ensure all Development and National team coaches attending international events have the Enhanced CAC Chartered Professional Coaching designation. This will mean that athletes and their parents can expect consistent and thorough screening of coaches.
- After a year of running this program, the CAC will provide Sport Canada with recommendations about implementing the program in a sustainable way more broadly across the sport system, while ensuring that minimum standards for education, experience and ethics for coaches are met.
Public registry of sanctions
- The Minister highlighted that the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada’s Abuse-Free Sport program is working on establishing, within a year, a public registry of individuals who have been sanctioned under the UCCMS and whose eligibility to participate in sport has in some way been restricted.
- The registry will apply to sport organizations who are program signatories with Abuse-Free Sport, including the services of the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner. To access federal funding, all NSOs had to sign with Abuse-Free Sport by April 1, 2023.
- The name of the sanctioned person and the cause of the sanction will be public for the period of the sanction. After that, the sanction will still be visible to organizations, but not publicly available.
Board of Directors nomination process for the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada
- The mission of the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) is to provide dispute resolution services for sport disputes, and expertise and assistance regarding alternative dispute resolution. It is also the organization mandated by the Government of Canada to establish the Abuse-Free Sport program, including the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC).
- While OSIC operates as an independent division of the SDRCC, there has been public criticism recently about the perceived independence of the SDRCC and OSIC from the Government of Canada as a funder.
- To address those concerns, the Minister will review the current merit-based process and implement greater transparency for nominating and appointing members to the SDRCC’s Board of Directors. This will include the Government of Canada issuing the call for nominations rather than the current process, where the call for nominations is issued by the SDRCC.
Abuse-Free Sport program
- As of April 1, 2023, all National Sport Organizations must be a Program Signatory to the Abuse-Free Sport program, including the services of the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner, to receive funding from the Government of Canada.
For more information (media only), please contact:
Office of the Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
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