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e-4302 (Justice)

Initiated by Victoria Paraschak from Windsor, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled

  • Children and youth have the right to participate in any sport in Canada free of maltreatment, abuse, and harm;
  • Athletes’ human rights are being violated with the current sport system approach, which lacks a transparent mechanism completely independent of sport to address maltreatment complaints; and
  • A precedent of such an inquiry has been set with the Dubin Inquiry of 1989.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to call a judicial inquiry into the sport system in Canada.

Response by the Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Pascale St-Onge

The Government of Canada would like to thank the petitioners for their call for a judicial inquiry into the Canadian sport system.

The Government recognizes that this is a challenging time within the Canadian sport system and changes are needed.? Reports of maltreatment, including harassment, abuse, and discrimination, have come to light recently and there have been consistent calls for greater protections, liability and accountability within the sport system. We take this issue seriously and we are committed to ensuring that all sport participants, including children and youth, experience a safe and inclusive sport environment.

While driving change in the sport system involves many stakeholders, including Federal, Provincial, and Territorial (FPT) governments, National Sport Organizations (NSOs), National Multisport Service organizations (MSOs), Canadian Sport Centres and Institutes, and the private sector, the Government of Canada has made strong, concerted efforts to promote safe sport, especially in recent years. We have worked to ensure safe, welcoming, and inclusive environments for all sport participants, bolstered by investments in Budgets 2019, 2022, and 2023.

With support from Sport Canada, the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS) was developed by and for the sport community. It sets harmonized rules and common principles to be adopted by sport organizations that receive funding from the Government of Canada to advance a respectful sport culture that delivers quality, inclusive, accessible, welcoming, and safe sport experiences. This code provides the Canadian sport community with a foundational and significant tool for preventing and effectively responding to maltreatment in sport.

In July 2021, following a call for proposals to identify the most appropriate and qualified organization to accomplish this work, the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) was selected to administer the UCCMS and establish an independent safe sport mechanism. In June 2022, the SDRCC launched the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC).

As Canada’s new independent third-party mechanism, the OSIC receives and manages allegations of maltreatment in sport. It receives reports about violations of the UCCMS, initiates scoping for Sport Environment Assessments, and offers education, prevention tools and resources, including mental health and legal aid referrals. All NSOs are now required to become Program Signatories to the Abuse-Free Sport program, including OSIC services, to access funding from Sport Canada. The OSIC is an important step to challenge the culture of silence and to provide an independent channel for all sport participants to report maltreatment, be heard, and receive support.

In June 2022, the Government of Canada announced the creation of the Sport Canada Athlete Advisory Committee (SCAAC) to increase the representation of athletes in the sport system. The SCAAC aims to provide advice and guidance to Sport Canada that reflect Canadian athletes’ realities. This dialogue, which demonstrates the Government’s commitment to amplifying athletes’ voices, will inform Sport Canada’s policies and programs moving forward.

Announced in March 2023, Budget 2023 provides $13.8 million over three years to the Department of Canadian Heritage to enhance accountability and support efforts to build a safe and accountable sport system. The Government recognizes that ensuring accountability is critical to building a sport system that promotes the safety and well-being of athletes across Canada.

Ensuring a safe and inclusive sport environment is a joint responsibility. In February 2019, FPT Ministers Responsible for Sport, Physical Activity, and Recreation endorsed the Red Deer Declaration for the Prevention of Harassment, Abuse and Discrimination in Sport. Ministers committed to developing a collaborative approach to address harassment, abuse and discrimination in sport in the areas of awareness, policy, prevention, reporting, management, and monitoring.

In February 2023, FPT Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to work together to have every athlete and participant in Canada protected by an independent third-party mechanism, such as the OSIC, by the end of 2023. To that end, some provinces are currently in discussions with the OSIC.

Amidst all these efforts, FPT governments also continue to work together on the renewal of the Canadian Sport Policy (CSP). The CSP, which sets priorities and provides guidance in advancing sport, will include a focus on safe sport experiences for all participants.

The Government of Canada recognizes that much work remains to be done. We greatly anticipate the forthcoming reports from the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and Standing Committee on the Status of Women’s studies on safe sport and women and girls in sport (respectively). The Government commits to carefully reviewing each recommendation and exploring opportunities for further action. We thank each committee for its work and attention on this important matter.

Furthermore, the Government thanks the petitioners for their continued efforts to create a safer and more inclusive sport system in Canada. We will continue to work with the sport community, especially athletes, to address these serious issues and to ensure that everyone in Canada has the opportunity to participate and flourish in sport regardless of age, ability, background, gender or sexual orientation in an environment free from maltreatment.

Open for signature
February 10, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
March 12, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Brian Masse (Windsor West)
March 31, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01255)
Government response tabled
May 15, 2023
Photo - Brian Masse
Windsor West
New Democratic Party Caucus