Statement by Minister Duncan on Abuse in Amateur Sport

From: Canadian Heritage


OTTAWA, February 11, 2019

Keeping children and athletes safe from abuse, discrimination and harassment in sport has been my top priority since being appointed Minister of Sport last year. Nothing is more important to me.

The CBC report on abuse in amateur sport broke my heart. No athlete should ever have to live through sexual abuse or harassment. This is tragic and completely unacceptable.

I would like to recognize the power of the media for this excellent piece of investigative journalism. This has helped shine a spotlight on the seriousness of abuse, discrimination and harassment in sport, and that in turn can drive change. As a former athlete and coach, I know there are problems across the system. We must not condone a sport culture that promotes winning at all costs. This has to change.

Sport provides children with an ideal outlet to be active while having fun and learning valuable life skills. Parents must be confident that their children are protected and safe when they enrol them in sports.

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

In June, I announced new measures for federally-funded national sport organizations. I made clear I would withdraw 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.

Many of our national sport organizations have signed renewed funding agreements with the federal government based on these new requirements. The rest will be required to do so when their funding agreements are renewed.

The Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport has recently reported back and we will be acting on its recommendations in the coming weeks.

This problem spans jurisdictions, so I have engaged the provinces and territories and personally spoken to each of my counterparts throughout the summer and fall. In the fall, I convened a Federal/Provincial/Territorial teleconference on abuse, discrimination and harassment in sport. This week, we will be meeting in Red Deer, Alberta, for our Federal/Provincial/Territorial conference ahead of the Canada Winter Games 2019. Our top priority is ending abuse, discrimination and harassment in our sport system. My goal is to come out of that meeting with strong commitments from all partners to move forward with a comprehensive plan that protects our children and athletes.

It is incumbent on all national sports organizations to step forward and speak out. There is absolutely no room for denial or delay. We need to be transparent and work together on this. Canada’s young people depend on us, and they deserve better.

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