Sports Minister expects a wave of complaints about the new commissioner

The Canadian Sports Minister anticipates a wave of complaints as the new office of the Sports Integrity Commissioner begins its mission later this month.

Sarah-Ève Pelletier, the country’s first Sports Integrity Commissioner, will begin receiving and handling complaints on June 20th.

Founded in 2017, the US Center for SafeSport said it received 5,000 reports and disciplined more than 600 people in the first three years.

During the first five months of Pascal Sto Onji as Canada’s Minister of Sports, allegations of abuse, sexual abuse and misappropriation were filed against at least eight national sporting organizations she called a “crisis.”

St-Onge has set up an office for the Sports Integrity Commissioner (BCIS) as an independent organization to investigate reports of abuse.

“We also expect a retroactive effect,” St-Onge told The Canadian Press. I know that I get a lot of calls just from what I’ve heard in the last few weeks or months.

“I’m really upset by what we’ve heard,” the minister said.

“I’m happy because we’re supposed to have an independent mechanism,” she added. I think the first few years will be difficult, but I hope that as soon as the situation arises, athletes will know who they can rely on and have a future where they can intervene as soon as possible. Possible. »»

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This year’s federal budget provided $ 16 million to fund the operation of OSIC in the first three years.

Sport Canada has already donated more than $ 1 million annually to Canada’s Sports Dispute Resolution Center (SDRCC), which provides arbitration and mediation services for dispute resolution.

By comparison, SafeSport’s funding in the United States in 2020 was US $ 18.2 million, with the US Olympic and Paralympic Commission contributing US $ 11.5 million.

“If we have enough resources, we will carefully monitor how the situation evolves,” St-Onge promised. We are already funding SDRCC. Let’s see what happens to that additional $ 16 million over the next three years.

“This new mechanism is an absolute priority and effective for me. »»

All national sport organizations are bound by a universal code of conduct. St-Onge says he met with the National Sports Organization (NSO) on safe sports.

“They all know that this is a really big problem. I’m not going to continue to tolerate the situations and stories I’ve heard,” the minister continued.

“They all know that we are working on cultural change and that they have to be part of it. We expect them to have these situations happen. We will raise the bar on how to prevent it »».

Basketball Canada Campaign

St-Onge supports the Basketball Canadian Learn About the SignsSafe Sport campaign announced Thursday in Ottawa at the Canadian Elite Basketball League match between Black Jacks and Scarborough Shooting Stars. The minister attended the match.

The campaign, funded by Sports Canada, contains ads that dramatically represent toxic behavior.

“We can’t be in every gym in this country, but we can take responsibility for every gym,” said Michael Bartlett, CEO of Basketball Canada.

“Our job is to use megaphones, platforms, marketing power and resources to bring the basketball community’s attention into what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, and to empower them to oppose unacceptable behaviour. And you have free access to the tools and resources to know what to do in these situations.

“We do this because it is our job to lead the sharing and facilitation of what is right and what is wrong. »»

Bartlett is set up for an advertising campaign aimed at potentially inspiring people to report cases of child abuse and abuse in basketball sports.

“It’s a good sign that a big organization like the Basketball Canada is trying to do something around this subject,” St-Onge said. In the light of the latest stories we have heard, one of the problems with the sports system is the culture of silence.

“People remain silent in the face of these situations. Talking about it is a really important first step. »»

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