Abuse in Canadian sports will face new committee scrutiny after unanimous vote

Click to play video: 'New data shows Canadians view on hockey culture'
New data shows Canadians view on hockey culture
New polling suggests 60 per cent of Canadians believe the recent Hockey Canada revelations reflect a broader problem of sexual violence. Sean Simpson of IPSOS Canada joins Antony Robart to discuss – Oct 25, 2022

A House of Commons committee is set to undertake a new study into the “physical and emotional health and safety” of women and girls in sports, following a series of high-profile allegations from women who said they faced abuse as they participated in a number of different sports.

On Monday, the House of Commons status of women committee voted unanimously in favour of starting the study.

The motion, tabled by Bloc Quebecois MP Andréanne Larouche, calls on the committee to “immediately undertake a study on sport and the status of women, including the physical and emotional health and safety of women and girls in sport.”

Read more: Hockey Canada signs up with sport integrity commissioner amid abuse scandals

The committee will dedicate four meetings to the issue and will invite Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge to testify on the issue — as well as any other witnesses the committee “deems appropriate to invite.”

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Once they wrap up their work, the committee will report its observations and recommendations to the House of Commons. They’ll also ask the government to table a comprehensive response to their report.

This is the latest study on the issue, after a high-profile series of Canadian Heritage committee meetings in July. However, that probe was limited in its scope — it focused only on Hockey Canada, while this new study will have a broader mandate to look at the treatment of women and girls in a variety of sports.

Arguing in favour of her motion on Monday, Larouche said the mistreatment of women and girls in sport goes beyond recent headlines about Hockey Canada.

“There are women in different sports — water polo, gymnastics and I could name many — that are talking about similar issues,” she said, speaking in French.

Click to play video: 'Hockey Canada’s entire senior leadership exits over sexual abuse controversy'
Hockey Canada’s entire senior leadership exits over sexual abuse controversy

Hockey Canada has faced a mass exodus of sponsors and resignations from its upper ranks in recent months after it emerged that the organization had used player registration fees for a fund used to settle sexual assault cases.

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News also emerged in the last week of a lawsuit filed against Water Polo Canada. Four former players filed the $5.5-million claim, alleging breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, breach of contract and vicarious liability for physical, psychological and emotional abuse, sexual harassment and mental suffering.

The government also froze funding for Gymnastics Canada in July amid a flurry of abuse allegations and growing calls by athletes to investigate the complaints.

“This is now a status-of-women issue. There needs to be an in-depth study on the causes as to why there are still so many issues in changing the culture in sports,” Larouche said.

“There is physical abuse, but also psychological and emotional abuse.”

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