Hockey Canada’s funding frozen for handling of sexual assault claim
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Hockey Canada’s federal funding is being frozen in the wake of the national organization’s handling of an alleged sexual assault and out-of-court settlement.
Hockey Canada will only have funding restored once it discloses the recommendations it received from an independent law firm hired to investigate the alleged incident four years ago, Minster for Sport Pascale St-Onge said in a statement Wednesday.
Hockey Canada must also become signatories to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner, a new government agency with the power to independently investigate abuse complaints and sanction inappropriate behavior.
The move comes after Hockey Canada president Scott Smith and outgoing CEO Tom Renney were questioned by lawmakers this week during a hearing into the organization’s response to the alleged sexual assault involving eight players.
Hockey Canada quietly settled the lawsuit last month after a woman claimed she was assaulted by members of the country’s 2018 gold-medal winning world junior hockey team at an organization function.
The woman, now 24, sought $3.55 million in damages from Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and the unnamed players. Details of the settlement have not been made public, but Smith said Monday that no government or insurance money was used.
A spokeswoman for Hockey Canada did not reply to an email request for comment Wednesday.
Twelve of the 19 players at the event spoke with the investigators from the law firm hired by the organization. Hockey Canada has said repeatedly the woman decided against speaking with police or its investigators. Smith and Renney reiterated Monday the woman also chose not to identify the players.
Smith said London police informed Hockey Canada its criminal investigation was closed as of February 2019. The independent investigation ended in September 2020, but Renney said the report is incomplete and shouldn’t be released.
The NHL, which also only recently learned of the allegations, is conducting its own investigation because some of the players in question are now in the league.
Hockey Canada received $14 million from the government in 2020 and 2021, including $3.4 million in COVID-19 subsidies, according to government records.
Federal money makes up 6% of Hockey Canada’s funding.