Hockey Canada said in a statement Wednesday its National Equity Fund will “no longer be used to settle sexual assault claims,” effective immediately.
On Monday, The Canadian Press reported the existence of Hockey Canada’s fund, used to cover “uninsured liabilities include potential claims for historical sexual abuse.” An investigation published by The Globe and Mail on Tuesday revealed the fund was built using revenue from minor hockey registration fees.
The news ignited further frustrations toward the organization, which has faced intense scrutiny for its handling of 2018 sexual assault allegations.
Later on Tuesday, a Hockey Canada spokesperson confirmed to Sportsnet the existence of the fund, which it said “covers a broad range of expenses related to safety, wellness and equity initiatives across our organization” and includes claims “not otherwise covered by insurance policies, including those related to physical injury, harassment, and sexual misconduct.”
In its follow-up statement Wednesday, Hockey Canada said it “recognizes we have significant work to do to rebuild trust with Canadians” and reiterated its opening of a full governance review by an independent third party.
The statement goes on to read as follows:
“Effective immediately, the National Equity Fund will no longer be used to settle sexual assault claims. Instead, it will be exclusively dedicated towards safety, wellness and equity initiatives, as well as insurance across our organization – activities which comprised 98 per cent of its resources between 2014 and 2021. This includes counselling and treatment for players, concussion research grants to the Canadian Hockey League, criminal record checks of Hockey Canada staff, donations to Kids Help Phone, as well as a range of safety initiatives including insurance for players and additional support for players who sustain physical injuries. Hockey Canada also commits that, going forward, all National Equity Fund proceeds from registration fees will be dedicated to these safety, wellness and equity initiatives, as well as insurance.
“Following the governance review, we will take any additional steps that are recommended. Should the review determine that a fund to support victims of sexual assault is required, as is common in other sporting organizations, we will ensure all claims are subject to the approval of an independent third-party.
“Canadians have been loud and clear: you expect our national sport and those representing it to work hard to earn your trust each day. We have heard you and are committed to making the changes necessary to allow us to be the organization you expect us to be, and to restore your confidence and trust in us.”