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Hockey Canada to hire director of sport safety to address abuse, harassment

Hockey Canada says it will hire a sport safety director to help develop a "maltreatment, harassment and abuse" plan for the organization.
Hockey Canada President Scott Smith appears as a witness at the standing committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 27, 2022, looking into how Hockey Canada handled allegations of sexual assault and a subsequent lawsuit. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Hockey Canada says it will hire a sport safety director to help develop a "maltreatment, harassment and abuse" plan for the organization.

The posting was made Thursday as the sport's national governing body continues its attempt to restore its public credibility following immense scrutiny over its handling of past sexual assault allegations.

The organization said it is looking for someone who will lead the development, implementation and evaluation of an "all-encompassing multi-year maltreatment, harassment and abuse strategy."

Hockey Canada said the individual will oversee an "independent and confidential complaint mechanism." 

The job posting says the aim is to "create a sport culture and environment that is free from all forms of maltreatment or harm."

The federal government froze Hockey Canada's funding in June after it was revealed the organization had quietly settled a lawsuit with a woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted by members of the 2018 men's junior team at a Hockey Canada gala in London, Ont., that year.

London Police reopened its investigation into the case in late July.

On July 22, Hockey Canada revealed members of its 2003 men's world junior hockey championship team are being investigated for a group sexual assault. Hockey Canada said it had contacted Halifax Regional Police about the allegations because Halifax was the co-host city of the 2003 world junior tournament.

Days prior to that, Hockey Canada confirmed the existence of its National Equity Fund and that it had been used to settle sexual assault claims. The organization said it will no longer use the fund to settle such claims.

Brian Cairo, Hockey Canada's chief financial officer, said the organization used the fund to pay out $7.6 million in nine settlements related to sexual assault and sexual abuse claims since 1989. It said $6.8 million of that was related to serial abuser Graham James. 

The figure, which was announced on July 27, did not include the undisclosed amount of the 2018 settlement.

Tim Hortons, Imperial Oil, under its Esso brand, Scotiabank, Canadian Tire and TELUS have pulled or paused sponsorship money either towards Hockey Canada as a whole or for the world junior hockey championship since the news became public. 

On Tuesday, Toronto lawyer Andrea Skinner was appointed as interim chair of Hockey Canada's board of directors following Michael Brind'Amour's resignation.

Last week, the country's 13 provincial and territorial hockey federations said payment of dues to Hockey Canada will be contingent on getting answers, along with a request for an "extraordinary meeting" with the embattled national body.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 11, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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