Hockey Canada accepts Cromwell report and pledges to ‘regain the trust of Canadians’
Hockey Canada says it accepts a former Supreme Court justice’s report calling on the organization to address lack of transparency and oversight related to a controversial contingency fund used to quietly settle uninsured liabilities, including claims of sexual assault.
The hockey organization’s response comes a day after CBC News reported that the new report, commissioned by Hockey Canada, concluded its reserve fund is needed.
But the report, written by retired Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell, also found serious shortcomings in the management of the fund. Cromwell concluded that there were no protocols or procedures in place to manage the fund, that detailed records of withdrawals were kept off the books, and that Hockey Canada breached disclosure rules by failing to report. inform members of important payments.
« Hockey Canada is reviewing Mr. Cromwell’s recommendations, with the goal of implementing them as soon as possible, » Hockey Canada said in a statement Thursday.
The organization has made public a full copy of the interim report.
The organization hired Cromwell in August to overhaul its governance structure as politicians and sponsors called on Hockey Canada’s management team to step down. Parents of hockey players have been outraged to learn that the National Equity Fund – supported in part by player registration fees – was used to pay for the settlement of a $3.5million lawsuit .
The plaintiff in this lawsuit alleged that eight hockey players – including some members of the 2018 World Junior Hockey Team – sexually assaulted her.
It was later revealed in testimony before a parliamentary committee that an additional $7.6 million had been withdrawn from the fund since 1989 for other alleged sexual abuse settlements.
LOOK/ Hockey Canada’s use of funds to pay sexual assault claims wrong: report
Hockey Canada said Thursday there are « systemic issues » plaguing hockey in Canada. He urges the provincial hockey federations that will vote on the report’s recommendations to « consider accepting them in their entirety. » Federations must approve any changes to Hockey Canada rules.
« Hockey Canada has heard from many Canadians, including members, players, parents and corporate partners, that changes are needed to make hockey a safer environment for all participants, » Hockey Canada said in the Press release.
« We remain fully committed to making these changes necessary to regain the trust of Canadians and address systemic issues in and around the Canadian game. »
Cromwell’s interim report found Hockey Canada broke the rules by failing to disclose to its members six instances since 1999 of settlements exceeding $500,000.
The hockey organization also failed to post on its website or notify parents that $13.65 of each member’s annual insurance fee at Hockey Canada ended up in the National Equity Fund. This fund was created to pay uninsured or underinsured debts.
Cromwell concluded that the fund itself is necessary and that not having one would be « a serious oversight ». He said Hockey Canada needs to have settlement amount protocols in place to determine who signs payments and how members are notified.
LOOK/ Hockey Canada CEO and entire board resign under political and corporate pressure
Hockey Canada also said it is asking provincial federations to pass changes to the organization’s bylaws governing the nomination process for the new board.
After months of mounting pressure, the entire board announced on Tuesday that it would step down. Scott Smith, president and CEO of Hockey Canada, has also resigned.
The resignations came after each of Hockey Canada’s major sponsors, including Nike, Tim Hortons and Scotiabank, cut ties with the organization entirely or walked away from men’s hockey.
The turning point was the controversial testimony before a Commons committee by then-board chair Andrea Skinner, who said toxic behavior was a societal problem and that it was counterproductive to use Hockey Canada as a scapegoat.
Provincial hockey federations are meeting in Toronto on Saturday to vote on a series of recommendations that involve changing regulations ahead of an election to select the new board on Dec. 17.
Cromwell recommended that all nominations be submitted to a nominating committee. He also called for better gender parity on the board and increasing the number of board members from nine to 13.
Provincial federations are also expected to vote on a recommendation to extend the terms of the board and its president.