Hockey Canada governance review calls for more oversight and accountability

Hockey Canada is at a « crossroads » that requires revamped leadership coupled with more oversight and transparency, a third-party governance review found.

The 221-page document released Friday following an independent investigation by former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell comes at a crucial time for the scandal-ridden national sports organization, after a spring, summer and a disastrous autumn.

CBC News previously reported on a draft version of the document.

This preliminary report has revealed that a controversial contingency fund that Hockey Canada has publicly promised to stop using to settle sexual assault allegations is significantly depleted after the organization transferred millions of dollars over the past few years on another account.

Hockey Canada said last month it accepted a former Supreme Court justice’s report and was reviewing the recommendations « with a view to implementing them as soon as possible, » according to an Oct. 13 statement from the organization. .
The report also revealed serious problems in the way the reserve fund was administered, including that Hockey Canada did not have policies and procedures in place to govern the use of its reserve funds, did not fully disclosed his funds in financial records and had broken the rules by not notifying members of large payments.

Hockey Canada has been under intense pressure since May, when it was revealed the federation had quietly settled a lawsuit after a woman claimed she was sexually assaulted by eight players, including members of the country’s world junior team, following a gala in 2018 in London, Ontario.

The federal government and corporate sponsors quickly suspended their financial support, but the ugly headlines continued with the revelation of a secret national equity fund – partly funded by registration fees – used to pay liabilities. uninsured, including sexual assault and abuse claims.

“Trust takes time to build, but can be quickly lost,” Cromwell wrote in his introduction. “Hockey Canada’s recent experience is proof of that.

WATCH Hockey Canada aims to improve selection of new Board of Directors:

Hockey Canada to implement rule changes following scandal

Hockey Canada and its members have voted unanimously to make changes to the bylaws intended to improve how the organization selects a new board of directors as part of efforts to repair its shattered reputation.

A Hockey Canada official told parliamentarians in July that the organization had paid $7.6 million in nine settlements related to sexual assault and abuse complaints since 1989, not including this year’s payout.

London police later said the force would reopen the investigation into the 2018 incident. The NHL is also investigating as several players from the 2018 World Junior Team are now in the league.

Hockey Canada then announced that members of the 2003 World Junior Men’s roster were being investigated for gang sexual assault, as calls for change at the top mounted.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Hockey Canada President and CEO Scott Smith resisted calls for his resignation but left the organization on October 11, the same day the board resigned following a hearing parliamentary surprise – the third time that officials had been called to Ottawa since June – and the publication of the interim review of Cromwell’s governance.

Cromwell’s full report recommends new parameters for the board nomination process, increasing its size from nine to 13 and ensuring that no more than 60% of directors are of the same sex. A new election is scheduled for next month.

« The complexity of the organization’s leadership challenges have exceeded the responsiveness of current board recruitment and election processes, » Cromwell wrote. « The current Board appointment process has not provided Hockey Canada with the breadth, depth and diversity of experience, both professional and personal, that the Board collectively needs to govern this organization. complex and to lead significant cultural change. »

Cromwell, who recommended that minutes be taken of all Hockey Canada meetings in the future, added that the roles of senior management and the board « are not clearly defined or distinguished. »

« This, at times, leads the board to become too deeply involved in day-to-day operations, » the report read. « Furthermore, the reporting relationship, especially with regard to the transfer of key information, is informal and unstructured. »

Lack of transparency, proper oversight

Cromwell, who interviewed more than 80 people at more than 60 meetings for the report, said Hockey Canada was right to establish reserve funds, including the National Equity Fund (NEF).

« Creating reserve funds to deal with the risk of uninsured and underinsured claims is not only sound, but not doing so would be a serious oversight. »

However, there was no proper oversight or transparency

« Hockey Canada does not have a written policy governing the NEF. »

Cromwell’s recommends that Hockey Canada provide « timely disclosure of publicly available information to its members regarding pending and potential claims. »

« Once a settlement is reached, we recommend that Hockey Canada release all publicly available information…while respecting the restrictions of any applicable non-disclosure agreement, » the report said.

Hockey Canada says it has already taken steps to implement the recommendations set out in last month’s interim report.

Cromwell also painted a murky picture of how organizations, associations, leagues, teams and participants operate with different resources and different regions.

« The responsibility for developing the sport of hockey in accordance with the principles of good governance rests with many parties, » the report said.

« A lack of clarity around organizational structure and authority can lead to uncertainty. »

Although the scope of the review focused on governance, Cromwell noted a number of issues raised by stakeholders throughout the process, including hockey’s « toxic culture » and additional support for women’s hockey and para -hockey.

WATCH l Hockey Canada CEO and Entire Board Step Down:

Hockey Canada board and CEO resign amid widespread criticism

Hockey Canada has announced that its CEO and the entire board are stepping down after an increasingly violent backlash over his handling of sexual assault allegations.

Cromwell also said it was time for those same stakeholders to « reflect on their own roles and responsibilities. »

« Some who have been quick to announce their loss of confidence in Hockey Canada have been slow to acknowledge their own past contributions to its problems, » he wrote. “The underlying causes of the current crisis are not of recent origin. Members controlled who sits on the board. Sport Canada, as recently as June 2022, gave Hockey Canada top marks for certain aspects of governance.

« It’s not my role to point fingers or assign blame. I’ll just observe that a lot more could have been done to resolve the issues sooner. »

Cromwell concluded that he hoped the governance recommendations provided to Hockey Canada would bring about « urgently needed » changes.

“All stakeholders will need to work together to bring about these changes,” he wrote.

“Hockey Canada is at a crossroads.

cbc sp

Back to top button