The Future of Sport in Canada Commission: Terms of Reference

Sport is part of the national identity and culture of Canada. Canadians recognize the power of sport to make positive change, strengthen our communities and build resilience. But with insufficient safeguards and accountability, sport can also do harm. Recent events have brought to light systemic maltreatment that occurs at all levels and contexts of sport. Athlete victims, survivors, and advocates have courageously shared their experiences of maltreatment, including abuse, harassment, and discrimination. Maltreatment within the Canadian sport system has been the subject of two Parliamentary Standing Committee studies. There have been calls for broad reform of the Canadian sport system, with an emphasis on reform that better protects children and holds sport leaders and organizations to account. In short, there is a collective desire – and identified need – to change the culture of sport in Canada.

Composition

The Future of Sport in Canada Commission (the Commission) shall consist of an independent Commissioner and two Special Advisors appointed by Order in Council on a part-time basis (as and when required) for the period of 18 months from the effective date of the Order in Council. One Special Advisor will be an expert with lived experience and/or expertise in victims’ rights and trauma-informed processes. The other Special Advisor will be an expert within the Canadian sport system.

The Commissioner assumes overall responsibility of the Commission and will preside over activities. The Commission is not to act as a public inquiry or to conduct a formal legal process.

Principles

In fulfilling its mandate and conducting Commission activities, the Commission shall be guided by the following principles:

Mandate

Given that safe sport permeates every aspect of the Canadian sport ecosystem, the Commission will review the Canadian sport system and make recommendations on concrete and effective actions with respect to:

  1. improving safe sport in Canada, including trauma-informed approaches to support sport participants in the disclosure of and healing from maltreatment; and
  2. improving the sport system in Canada, including but not limited to policy, funding structures, governance, reporting, accountability, conflicts of interest, systems alignment, culture, and legal considerations.

In fulfilling this mandate, the Commission will produce two reports and hold a National Summit for participants to deliberate preliminary findings and recommendations.

The Commission will function independently and impartially in a non-partisan and transparent manner to achieve the objectives of its mandate; perform its duties without undue influence; and abide by Treasury Board policies on conflict of interest.

Activities

Commission activities will include regional and subject-specific roundtables, a public online survey, and a public online submission portal. The Commission may also conduct in-camera sessions, meetings, interviews, focus groups, or other activities it considers appropriate to fulfill its mandate. The Commission will offer participants a variety of engagement options, as well as the opportunity to provide impact statements.

In conducting these activities, the Commission will:

  1. Engage victims and survivors of maltreatment in sport, as well as subject-matter experts, academics, and advocates to bring to light the experiences, causes, and impacts of inappropriate behaviour and maltreatment; support healing; and seek input to inform recommendations.
  2. Engage a broad group of experts, academics, stakeholders, and sport participants on how to improve the sport system in Canada, including but not limited to issues related to policy, funding structures, governance, reporting, accountability, conflicts of interest, systems alignment, culture, and legal considerations. The Commission may also draw on existing literature and reports to guide its work.

The Commission is expected to engage and seek input from provinces and territories at the early stages of the Commission. This approach would help advance collaboration and constructive engagement from the outset.

Participants

The Commission will ensure that Canadians have the opportunity to provide input through an online survey and online submission portal.

The Commission may invite individuals and organizations that it considers appropriate to the fulfillment of its mandate to voluntarily participate in specific Commission activities.

The Commission will specifically ensure the meaningful participation of athletes, victims, and survivors in its activities.

The Commission will determine which individuals and groups will be permitted to formally participate in its activities, including the National Summit, in a manner that promotes inclusiveness and independence and respects the prescribed timing. The Commission will take into consideration diversity, intersectionality, regional representation, and linguistic duality.

The Commission will determine the number of engagement sessions and appropriate format to be used.

National Summit on the Future of Sport

The Commission’s activities will culminate in a National Summit on the Future of Sport (the National Summit) no later than the fourteenth month of the Commission’s mandate. The National Summit will provide an opportunity for participants in the engagement process and other interested parties to deliberate on the findings and recommendations in the Preliminary Report.

Reports

The Commission will deliver two reports to the Minister of Sport and Physical Activity:

  1. A Preliminary Report in advance of the National Summit.
  2. A Final Report will be submitted in the final month of the mandate. The Final Report will build on the Preliminary Report and reflects insights and deliberations garnered from the National Summit.

Both reports will:

While the Preliminary and Final Reports will contain recommendations for the Government of Canada, they may be of assistance to all governments and sport participants to use in both joint and independent efforts to improve sport systems in Canada.

Procedures and Duties

The Commission may adopt procedures or methods it deems appropriate for the conduct of Commission activities and the fulfillment of its mandate.

Trauma-Informed Approach

The work of the Commission will be victim- and survivor-centred and trauma- and violence-informed. The Commission will make every effort to protect participants from re-traumatization; be responsive to victims’ and survivors’ needs; and make appropriate accommodations and adjustments to its processes.

The Commission will make participants aware of the process, timing, limitations, goals, possible or anticipated outcomes, and risks associated with the process.

The Commission will ensure that trauma-informed professionals, such as mental health, youth, legal, and gender-based violence counselors and support workers, will be present on-site and through alternate methods of engagement to support participants.

Confidentiality and Disclosure

The Commission will ensure participants are aware of the use and the purpose of the information sought from them and seek explicit permission from participants or parents or legal guardians for their information to be used.

The Commission will inform participants that its reports will be released publicly, and that information will be handled in accordance with the requirements of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

The Commission will not make any findings or conclusions regarding the misconduct, criminal or civil liability of any individual, unless such findings or information has already been established through legal proceedings, by admission, or by public disclosure by the individual.

The Commission will not name names or make use of personal information without the express consent of the individual, unless such findings or information has already been established through legal proceedings, by admission, or by public disclosure by the individual. Other information that could be used to identify an individual will be anonymized to the extent possible.

The Commission will not, except as required by law, provide to any other proceedings or for any other use, any personal information or statement made by an individual without that individual’s express consent.

The Commission will ensure that its conduct and activities do not jeopardize any legal proceedings.

Conflict of Interest

The Commission is expected to abide by Treasury Board policies on Apparent Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Interest and to declare any real or perceived conflict of interest. Commission members must recuse themselves from discussions and/or decisions on those issues from which the real or perceived conflict arises.

Staff Support / Workspace

Personnel and external service provider(s) may be hired, contracted, and funded to support the work of the Commission.

A small administrative hub may be created within Canadian Heritage to support the Commission with functions including but not limited to, contracting and compliance with any legislative requirements (such as access to information and privacy).

The Commission may be provided a work location by the Government of Canada.

Communications

The Commission, with the support of their staff, are responsible for their own communications. All communication and media inquiries will be sent directly to the office of the Commission.

Government of Canada Outcomes

These efforts will support better informed policy and programming development as Government of Canada receives recommendations on how to improve the sport system in Canada, including but not limited to issues related to safe sport, policy, funding structures, governance, reporting, accountability, conflicts of interest, systems alignment, culture, and legal considerations.

Following receipt of the Final Report, the Minister may collaborate with partners to develop an action plan following the recommendations. Existing forums and networks, such as the Federal-Provincial/Territorial Sport, Physical Activity & Recreation Council and the Athlete Advisory Committee to the Minister of Sport and Physical Activity, could be leveraged to undertake this work.

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