Consensus and progress at the National Safe Sport Summit

May 17, 2019

The National Sport Organization Safe Sport Working Group announced seven core components and related consensus statements to support the development of a universal code of conduct in Canada. The announcement follows two days of focused discussion with representatives from across the sport system in Canada at the National Safe Sport Summit in Ottawa.

“The Safe Sport Summit was a landmark moment in changing the culture surrounding athletes and coaches,” said Lorraine Lafrenière, Chief Executive Officer of the Coaching Association of Canada, and Co-chair of the National Sport Organization Safe Sport Working Group. “The diverse constituents of the sport system in Canada have spoken with a clear voice. The time for change is now and we are moving forward to combat athlete maltreatment in all its forms.”

Once drafted, the Safe Sport Code of Conduct will be shared with Provincial and Territorial ministers and other stakeholders to consider and build on the systemic culture change the Government of Canada is making in sport.
The consensus statements are as follows:

  •  Federal / Provincial / Jurisdiction: To collaborate with Federal, Provincial, and Territorial governments to create a harmonized approach to a universal Code of Conduct.
  •  Education and Awareness: To build on and develop robust, approved education and training programs to be deployed at all levels and roles in sport. And to develop awareness among Canadians that change is happening.
  •  Financial Resources: For new funding to be identified and dedicated to the implementation of safe sport initiatives in all jurisdictions.
  •  Harmonized Code: To develop a single, harmonized code governing safe sport in Canada, to include updated definitions of all forms of maltreatment.
  •  Independent Body: To identify an independent body with responsibility for implementing the harmonized and universal code.
  •  Prohibited Conduct: To prohibit sexual relations between National Team coaches and National Team athletes, with the ability to expand the scope to positions of authority. The immediate intent is to protect athletes now.
  •  Implementation Plan: To conduct an audit of the existing sport landscape and stakeholders; to establish a critical path; and to initiate a process to educate the sport community.

The consensus statements will be provided to the Federal Government for deliberation with their Provincial and Territorial counterparts within the context of the Red Deer Declaration, which was endorsed by Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Ministers at the 2019 Canada Winter Games. National Sport Organizations will work towards implementing the prohibited conduct within their Code of conduct if this is not within their existing codes.

“To create the cultural shift needed in sport, organizations need to be brave, courageous, and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Our athletes and participants deserve it,” said Ahmed el-Awadi, Chief Executive Officer of Swimming Canada, and Co-chair of the National Sport Organization Safe Sport Working Group. “We applaud the dedication of the sport community in Canada in pursuing this critical initiative and its passion for protecting its athletes from harassment and abuse.”

The unprecedented two-day National Safe Sport Summit drew more than 180 representatives from throughout the sport system in Canada. The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, addressed attendees on the first day of the Summit, which included delegates from Sport Canada, AthletesCAN, Provincial / Territorial and Indigenous sport organizations, national sports organizations, and national multi-sport service organizations.
The summit was hosted by the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) and marked the conclusion of a series of Safe Sport Summits held in every province and territory. The summits were carried out with financial support from Sport Canada and conducted in partnership with Provincial / Territorial Coaching Representatives and the Canadian Sport Institutes. An online survey complemented the summits.

The Summit also marked an important next step in the Responsible Coaching Movement, a multi-phase, system-wide movement, coordinated by the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES), which began in 2015. Since that time, nearly 400 sport organizations in Canada have taken the Responsible Coaching Movement pledge. In doing so, these organizations have committed to implementing supportive policies and process that adhere to three key focus areas: Rule of Two, Background Screening, and Respect and Ethics Training.