TORONTO / OTTAWA – AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, and the Canadian Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission (COC AC), the elected representatives of Olympians across Canada, commend today’s announcement by Minister Qualtrough on the launch of the Future of Sport in Canada Commission and other sport system commitments as a meaningful step to address the history of systemic abuse in Canadian sport and its underlying causes.
As the representatives of over 6,000 current and recently retired national team athletes covering 68 sports, we support the Minister’s commitment to changing the culture of sport to ensure the safety and protection of athletes through a trauma-informed, independent, long-term initiative to investigate abuse in sport. We applaud Minister Qualtrough’s ongoing leadership and support on this critical issue.
Minister Qualtrough’s elevation of Sport Canada’s Athlete Advisory Committee to a Ministerial Athlete Advisory Committee and commitment to strengthening AthletesCAN’s capacity further demonstrate her dedication to bolstering the athlete voice and empowering athletes within the sport system. In addition, updates including the greater independence of the Abuse-Free Sport program and the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC), the modernization of the Sport Funding and Accountability Framework, the unification of the Sport Integrity Framework, and the creation of an International Working Group on Sport Integrity, are positive contributions to ensuring a safe and well-functioning sport system.These immediate-term measures, in combination with the announcement of the Future of Sport in Canada Commission, are just the latest examples of the Minister continuing to develop a national system that seeks to prioritize athletes’ well-being, both now and in the future.
Today’s announcement builds on the prior commitments of the 2023 Sport Governance Reforms, the stories shared by athletes in hearings held by the Standing Committees on Canadian Heritage and the Status of Women, and the knowledge gained from the first year and a half of operations of Abuse-Free Sport and OSIC.
We recognize that there are athletes calling for a public inquiry. However, we have confidence that the process outlined by the Minister – committed to being trauma-informed and human rights-based – will result in a comprehensive report, a set of actionable items, and athletes feeling seen, heard, and validated.
We, as elected athlete representatives, will continue to advocate for increased accountability measures and look forward to ensuring athletes are at the heart of decision-making. We will continue to work with Minister Qualtrough to ensure all athlete voices are prioritized and heard throughout this process, and to build together a stronger, healthier, and more welcoming sport environment for athletes across the country for years to come.
AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, is the only fully independent and most inclusive athlete organization in the country and the first organization of its kind in the world. As the voice of over 6,000 current and recently retired Canadian national team athletes, AthletesCAN membership spans 68 sports across the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan/Parapan American, and Commonwealth Games, and those currently funded by Sport Canada competing at Senior World Championships. AthletesCAN ensures an athlete-centered sport system by developing athlete leaders who influence sport policy and, as role models, inspire a strong sport culture, through educational resources, support, training and professional development.
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