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Canadian government to study harassment, abuse in sports

The Canadian government appears to be serious about efforts to make participation in sports safer for all Canadians

OFSAA Cross-Country

Last month, the Conference of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers Responsible for Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation published the Red Deer Declaration, a document subtitled “For the Prevention of Harassment, Abuse and Discrimination in Sport.” Building on the intent of the declaration, Canadian Heritage announced today that it will fund a baseline prevalence study “to measure all forms of mistreatment, including sexual, emotional and physical abuse, neglect, harassment, bullying, exploitation and discrimination” in Canadian sports. 

RELATED: Coaching report details history of harassment and abuse

The Canadian women's 4x100m relay team celebrates their bronze medal.

According to a recent report by CBC Sports on abuse in amateur sport in Canada, hockey had the highest number of coaches who had been charged or convicted of sexual offences against minors over the last 20 years. However it also found eight track and field coaches who met this description, five of whom had been convicted.

Researchers from the University of Toronto and athletes from AthletesCAN will collaborate with the government on the study, which is intended to help with the creation of policies to make sport safer for Canadians, as well as to help achieve equal participation by males and females in sport by the year 2035. Specifically, it will look for ways to help athletes feel more comfortable about reporting abuse.

World Mountain Running Championships
Photo: Pascal Gray

In June 2018 Minister of Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan made federal funding of sports organizations dependent on their having strong anti-bullying and abuse policies, the timely reporting of incidents, independent assessment of complaints, and require members to receive training on the subject by April of next year.

This follows another recent announcement by Minister Duncan on the development of a Code of Conduct and training program that may be used by all levels of sports organizations.