Safety in sport
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- Safe, welcoming, and inclusive sport environment
Canada is committed to ensuring that all Canadians can participate and compete on a safe and fair playing field that is free of doping, harassment, abuse and discrimination.
Safe, welcoming, and inclusive sport environment
The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that all sport participants in Canada - from playground to podium - have the opportunity to participate and flourish in sport environments free from harassment, abuse, discrimination, and other forms of maltreatment.
Through our financial support, National Sport Organizations (NSOs), National Multisport Service Organizations (MSOs), Canadian Sport Centres and other partners and stakeholders continue to prioritize our collective safe sport objectives.
Expectations and standards for funded sport organizations to ensure safe environments for all participants
The Government of Canada has taken a number of steps and has made significant investments to foster a safer, more welcoming and inclusive sport environment.
To be eligible for Sport Canada funding, all national-level sport organizations must adopt the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS) and become a Program Signatory to the Abuse-Free Sport program, including the services of the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC).
On May 11, 2023, the Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, announced new measures that the Government of Canada is taking to foster sustainable culture change in sport, improve governance and accountability of federally funded sport organizations, enhance safe sport practices, and amplify the role of athletes in decision making. This included a requirement that all Sport Canada funded national-level sport organizations to adopt the Canadian Sport Governance Code and make the corresponding changes to their governance structures by April 2025.
As announced in Budget 2023, to ensure it can better monitor and hold funded organizations accountable, Sport Canada will create a new compliance unit with dedicated resources. The compliance unit will work with NSOs and external experts on the development of concrete action plans with clear indicators on governance, safe sport, and athlete representation. These plans will need to be in place by April 2024 to access Sport Canada funding.
Athletes at the heart of decision-making structures
The voice of athletes and their capacity to engage in the national sport system must be prioritized and protected.
Sport Canada is dedicating $300,000 in funding for AthletesCAN to strengthen its capacity as a leader in the system, to collaborate across the sport system, and to support governance training opportunities so that athletes are fully prepared to take on governance roles.
As part of the work to adhere to the Canadian Sport Governance Code, all national-level sport organizations funded by Sport Canada will be required to have an athlete representative on their board of directors by April 2025.
New In June 2022, the creation of an Athlete Advisory Committee was announced. On December 11, 2023, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Physical Activity, announced that she would chair the Committee to directly engage with members. The Ministerial Athlete Advisory Committee (Committee) is an important initiative to ensure that athletes’ perspectives and advice inform Sport Canada’s activities. Since the Minister of Sport and Physical Activity will now chair the Committee, the call for at-large applications is reopening for high performance athletes at the national senior team level.
Read more about who can apply to become an at-large member of the Ministerial Athlete Advisory Committee.
Safe Sport Resources
The Government of Canada also supports the following initiatives to ensure a safe sport environment:
The UCCMS sets harmonized rules to be adopted by sport organizations that receive funding from Sport Canada to advance a respectful sport culture that delivers quality, inclusive, accessible, welcoming and safe sport experiences.
Abuse-Free Sport is an independent program that is part of a growing national movement to rid Canadian sport of all forms of harassment, discrimination, and abuse. It aims to prevent maltreatment at all levels of sport across Canada through education, training, and research.
Acting as the central pillar of the Abuse-Free Sport Program, the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner, which launched its services in June 2022, is responsible for administering the UCCMS.
The Abuse-Free Sport Helpline is a free, anonymous, confidential, and independent service, offered in both official languages. Those who experience or witness harassment, abuse and discrimination can get help through this helpline. It is also the first point of contact with the Abuse-Free Sport program.
The principles in the Governance Code include precise requirements for diversity on boards of directors, parameters around board independence and term limits, proper training for board members, and various requirements regarding transparency. The Code is evolutive and will be updated in the context of evolving best practices.
Federal, Provincial and Territorial Alignment
There is a need for a collective response across the sport system as instances of maltreatment continue to occur at all levels of sport. The Government of Canada, through Sport Canada, continues to work with provincial and territorial governments to prioritize safe sport given their authority over sport programming within their jurisdictions, including sport at the community level.
In February 2019, federal, provincial, and territorial governments all endorsed the Red Deer Declaration, thus committing to collaborative action to prevent harassment, abuse and discrimination in sport. In August 2022 and in February 2023, Federal-Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation met to assess the progress made to make sport safer since the Red Deer Declaration and to discuss next steps towards eliminating abuse, harassment, sexual violence and discrimination in sport.
Federal-Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation have also agreed to work together toward the establishment of independent third-party compliance mechanisms in their jurisdictions by the end of 2023.
Canada's domestic anti-doping policies and programs are well respected internationally and the Canadian Anti-Doping Program is fully compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. Canada continues to exercise leadership in the global anti-doping movement and is host of the World Anti-Doping Agency in Montréal.
The Sport Canada Strategy on Ethical Sport and the Sport Canada Anti-Doping Sanctions are in place to enhance ethical conduct in Canadian sport. Together, they address key ethical issues in sport, such as doping, abuse/ harassment, concussions and safety-related matters, violence in sport, and other identified ethical issues as they arise. The overall objective is to work collaboratively with our partners, clients, and stakeholders to help protect the integrity of sport.
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