Canada’s sports minister expects a wave of complaints when the new Office of the Sports Integrity Commissioner begins its term later this month.
The country’s first Sports Integrity Commissioner, Sarah-Eve Pelletier, will begin receiving and processing complaints on June 20.
The US Center for SafeSport, established in 2017, said it received 5,000 reports and sanctioned more than 600 people in its first three years of operation.
In Pascale St-Onge’s first five months as Canada’s sports minister, allegations of mistreatment, sexual abuse, or embezzlement have been filed against at least eight national sports organizations in what she called a “crisis.”
St-Onge established the Office of the Commissioner for Sports Integrity (BCIS) as an independent entity to investigate reports of abuse.
“We also anticipate a retroactive effect,” St-Onge told The Canadian Press. I know there will be a lot of phone calls just because of the stories we’ve heard over the last few weeks and months.
“I am truly shocked by the stories we have heard. »
“I am happy because we are going to have an independent mechanism. I know that the first few years are going to be difficult, but what I hope is that we can have a future where athletes, as soon as situations arise, know (who) they can turn to so that we can intervene as quickly as possible. possible. »
This year’s federal budget provided C$16 million to fund OSIC’s operations during its first three years.
Sport Canada already pays more than $1 million a year to the Sports Dispute Resolution Center of Canada (SDRCC), which offers arbitration and mediation services to resolve disputes.
By comparison, the Center for SafeSport’s funding envelope in the United States in 2020 was $18.2 million, with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee contributing $11.5 million.
“We will closely monitor how things go if the resources are sufficient,” St-Onge promised. We have already funded the SDRCC. That extra $16 million over the next three years, we’ll see how it goes.
“This new mechanism is an absolute priority for me, that it be effective. »
All national sports organizations will be bound by a universal code of conduct. St-Onge says that he met with the National Sport Organization (NSO) about safe sport.
“Everyone knows that this is a big problem, that I am not going to continue to tolerate the situations and the stories that we have heard,” the minister continued.
“Everyone knows that we are working on a culture change, that they have to be part of it. We are going to raise the bar of what we expect from them, and how they should prevent these situations from happening. »
Canada basketball campaign
St-Onge supports Basketball Canada’s Learn About The Signs Safe Sport campaign announced Thursday in Ottawa at a Canadian Elite Basketball League game between the BlackJacks and Scarborough Shooting Stars. The Minister attended the match.
The campaign, funded by Sport Canada, includes an ad that dramatizes toxic behavior.
“We can’t be in every gym in this country, but we can hold every gym accountable,” said Basketball Canada CEO Michael Bartlett.
“Our job should be to use our megaphone, our platform, our marketing power, our resources, to collectively bring to the attention of the basketball community what is acceptable and what is not, so that they have the power to speak out against the unacceptable behavior. and have the tools and resources at your fingertips to know what to do in these situations. »
“We do this because it is our job to take the initiative to share and promote what is right and what is wrong. »
Bartlett is ready for the ad campaign which is intended to potentially inspire people to report cases of child abuse and abuse in the sport of basketball.
“It’s a good sign that an organization as big as Basketball Canada is going to do something about this issue,” St-Onge acknowledged. In light of the latest stories we’ve heard, one of the problems with the sports system is the culture of silence.
“People have remained silent in these situations. Talking about it is a very important first step. »
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