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Statement regarding recent safe sport commitments by the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Government of Canada

COC AC, AthletesCAN and CPC AC partnership

MONTREAL – On June 11 and 12, athlete representatives, Multisport Organization leaders, National Sport Organization leaders, Sport Canada, the Coaching Association of Canada, and the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner came together to discuss the critical state of sport in Canada. Although these were difficult conversations, it provided an opportunity to have open and honest dialogue on the the gaps and deficiencies that exist in the  sporting system, and to develop an actionable path moving forward. However, as stressed over the course of the weekend, while discussions and conversations are important, action must now follow.  There is an urgent need to build trust among partners, and to ensure collaboration towards a sport system that prioritizes well-being and requires high standards of leadership and governance. It is also necessary that adequate resources (human and financial capital)  are allocated to  match the monumental task at hand.

Following the recent Sport Community conversations, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) Athletes’ Commission, Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) Athletes’ Council, and  AthletesCAN would like to applaud the COC’s investment of  $10 million towards Safe Sport initiatives to help build a healthy, safe, and barrier-free sport system in Canada. We would also like to acknowledge the commitment by Minister Pascale St-Onge and Sport Canada to create an Athlete Advocacy Council that will ensure the ongoing engagement of athletes. We commend the Minister’s commitment to changing the contribution agreements with sport organizations for 2023 ensuring stronger measures of responsibility, accountability, and governance.

We were encouraged by the sense of collaboration at the discussion table, and by the commitment and support of the COC, CPC, the Minister and other members of the Sporting community to have open dialogue and active engagement of the athlete community throughout the process. We are hopeful that the engagement of athletes as equal partners will become the norm across the sport system at all stages rather than in reaction to a crisis. 

Despite the progress seen to date, athletes need to see action and tangible change. Trust needs to be restored, and we need an environment where all sport stakeholders feel safe and heard. As athlete representatives, we are committed to ensuring that athletes are engaged as true partners throughout the entire Canadian sport system, and would encourage sporting administrators and other members of the sporting community to work with us in finding solutions to the challenges we face ahead. We are committed to supporting athletes through this process and  to working to ensure a better sport system for all. 

I'd like to thank the Minister for her concern and attention to this pressing issue. It's clear that trust in the system has been breached, and it must be restored. We need to listen to athletes and keep their health and well-being at the centre of the sport system. And we need to work together to address these issues and build a safe system for everyone.

Rosie MacLennan, Chair, COC Athletes' Commission

We applaud the work of Minister St-Onge in swiftly taking action to enact new safe sport initiatives and engage the entire sport community towards positive change. Safe sport is a critical issue that must be solved within our sport system, and the athlete voice is one of the most important when it comes to finding solutions. The work is not done yet, and together athletes will do the work and demand accountability to ensure a safe sport system for each and every participant.

Tony Walby, Chair, Canadian Paralympic Athletes' Council

We continue to be encouraged by the positive steps the Minister, the Sport Integrity Commissioner, and sport partners are taking to address the safe sport crisis. Including athletes in the process of change is an essential piece, so that they are no longer silenced and vulnerable. We know that more concrete actions are needed to ensure current and future athletes and all other participants can be in an environment that is safe, healthy, and places the human at the centre.

Erin Willson, President, AthletesCAN

About AthletesCAN

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 Canadian national team athletes, AthletesCAN ensures an athlete-centered sport system by developing athlete leaders who influence sport policy and, as role models, inspire a strong sport culture. Follow us on social @AthletesCAN and Join #TheCollective today.

About the COC Athletes' Commission

The COC Athletes’ Commission represents the voice of Canadian Olympic athletes to the Canadian Olympic Committee Board of Directors, to Sport Canada, to the International Olympic Committee, international sport federations and all other domestic sport organizations. It is instrumental in presenting Canadian athletes’ perspectives in areas ranging from athlete rights, safe sport policies, marketing & COC partnership agreements, Olympic team selection policies and much more.

About the CPC Athletes' Council

The CPC Athletes’ Council is an elected group of current and retired Paralympic athletes (within the past eight years) that serve as the collective voice, advocating the best interests of Canada’s Paralympic athletes and the Paralympic movement within Canada. The Athletes’ Council works to provide input and recommendations from an athlete perspective to the Canadian Paralympic Committee staff, committees and Board of a Directors with respect to decision making at all levels of the organization.

For more information, please contact:

Alan Hudes
Manager, Communications and Sport Partnerships
AthletesCAN
613-526-4025 Ext. 224
ahudes@athletescan.ca

COC Athletes’ Commision
athletescommission@olympic.ca
@TeamCanadaAC
bit.ly/3OEFMcT

CPC Athletes’ Council
athletescouncil@paralympic.ca 
@CDNParalympics
paralympic.ca/athletes-council