Hockey Canada posts new job to overhaul handling of maltreatment, harassment and abuse

·3 min read
Lawyer Andrew Winton sits alongside witnesses Scott Smith, Hockey Canada president and chief operating officer and Hockey Canada chief financial officer Brian Cairo, as they appear last month at heritage committee probing the organization's handling of sexual assault allegations. (The Canadian Press - image credit)
Lawyer Andrew Winton sits alongside witnesses Scott Smith, Hockey Canada president and chief operating officer and Hockey Canada chief financial officer Brian Cairo, as they appear last month at heritage committee probing the organization's handling of sexual assault allegations. (The Canadian Press - image credit)

Warning: This story contains graphic details that may be disturbing to some readers

Hockey Canada is hiring a new "director of maltreatment, harassment and abuse" to improve safety within the organization following intense public scrutiny over its handling of sexual assault allegations.

The sport's national governing body posted the new job on Thursday and said it would include overseeing the introduction of an "independent and confidential complaint mechanism," according to the posting.

"Hockey Canada's goal is to create a sport culture and environment that is free from all forms of maltreatment and harm," the job posting said.

Hockey Canada says it's looking for someone to lead the development of a "multi-year" mistreatment strategy and lead the creation of a new reporting and tracking system to capture allegations of wrongdoing at all levels of hockey from grassroots to the national level.

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The director will also be tasked with the creation of a new screening program to assess a player's character for high-performance programs, according to the job posting.

The job posting is the latest effort by the organization to try and restore its credibility and the public's trust more than two months into its sexual assault allegations scandal.

Regional hockey associations have threatened to stop paying Hockey Canada dues over concerns, MPs are continuing to call on the hockey organization's leadership to resign and Canada's minister of sport wants a major overhaul of the board of directors.

WATCH | Hockey organizations threaten to withhold funding from Hockey Canada: 

The creation of a new job to handle mistreatment complaints is part of a commitment Hockey Canada made in July while announcing a plan to combat the organization's "toxic behaviour" both on and off the ice.

Hockey Canada released that plan before its executives appeared at a parliamentary committee, where they were grilled by MPs over how the organization reached financial settlements with complainants and used non-disclosure agreements in some cases to restrict complainants from speaking publicly.

The Hockey Canada controversy started after a woman filed a lawsuit in April alleging she was sexually assaulted in 2018 by eight unnamed Canadian Hockey League players including members of the World Junior team.

The hockey players allegedly brought golf clubs to the room to intimidate her, told her to shower after the sexual assault, and directed her to say she was sober while they filmed a consent video, according to a statement of claim that has not been proven in court.

The lawsuit accuses Hockey Canada of failing to address systemic abuse in its organization and condoning a "culture and environment that glorified the degradation and sexual exploitation of young women."

During the parliamentary committee last month, Hockey Canada revealed it has reached settlements and paid out $8.9 million to 21 other complainants of sexual abuse allegations since 1989 (not including the 2018 group sexual assault allegations).

In nine of those cases, a fund made up in part by registration fees was used to pay complainants. Hockey Canada's sexual misconduct insurance policy was used to cover the rest, the organization told the committee.

WATCH | World junior hockey tournament to go ahead amidst hockey Canada controversy:

Police in Halifax have also opened an investigation into an allegation of a separate group sexual assault in 2003.

TSN reports that a source contacted Conservative MP John Nater and described a video showing about six players who were with Canada's world junior team at the time having sex with a woman who was non-responsive and lying face up on a pool table.

The chair of the parliamentary committee probing Hockey Canada's handling of sexual misconduct said there are outstanding witnesses they want to hear from. A date for the next meeting has not been scheduled yet.

Have a story or news tip about the Hockey Canada scandal? Confidentially email ashley.burke@cbc.ca