Pascale St-Onge made the comments Tuesday, saying negotiations to sign up with the office were underway despite only a few national sporting bodies having agreed to work with the office so far.
“It’s still a work in progress,” she told reporters as she made her way to a cabinet meeting on Parliament Hill.
“The office just started on June 20, so we’re working with them to make sure that they have everything they hope to be efficient and productive,” St-Onge said.
St.-Onge has said earlier in the day that registration with the office would be mandatory by May 2023, but a spokesperson for the minister later clarified that the deadline would be April 2023.
A Canadian first, the Office of The Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC) was launched in June.
Commissioner Sarah-Eve Pelletier has been tasked with receiving complaints about alleged maltreatment in sports and where necessary, launching independent investigations.
Since June 20, athletes have filed 24 complaints but 16 of those are in limbo because only two national sporting bodies – weightlifting and volleyball – and three other organizations have signed up to use the service.
A spokesperson for the office told Global News in July, “dozens” of other sports organizations are currently negotiating their contracts.
St-Onge has given all sports until April next year to sign on to the integrity commissioner’s system or risk losing their federal funding.
Pelletier was appointed the country’s first sport integrity commissioner in April as the federal government moved to address what St-Onge has called a “crisis.”
Pelletier told The Canadian Press this week she is encouraged by the efforts she is seeing from sporting organizations to join the new process.
But she cannot investigate most of the complaints filed so far because few national sporting bodies have agreed to work with her office. She is hoping that will soon start to change.
“By the end of the year, there is going to be a greater number of organizations on board,” she said.
Hundreds of athletes have come forward this year alone to publicly report issues of physical, sexual and psychological abuse from coaches, trainers and others in authority across multiple sports.
Hockey Canada has been at the centre of national attention for its handling of sexual abuse allegations.
On Tuesday, a new Ipsos poll done exclusively for Global News showed that 60 per cent of Canadians say the recent revelations reflect a broader problem of sexual harassment, assault and violence within hockey culture in Canada.
The problem is not limited to hockey, but prevalent in other sports too, the poll showed.
“People see it as a problem with organized sports in general, not just with Hockey Canada, particularly if you ask women,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos public affairs.
— with files from The Canadian Press