By Steve Keating
BRAMPTON, Ontario - The Canada government will restore funding to Hockey Canada after the body met three conditions to make the sport safer, said Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge on Sunday, ahead of the women's ice hockey world championship gold medal game between the United States and Canada.
Hockey Canada had its funding frozen last year when the national governing body came under scrutiny over its handling of sexual assault allegations.
The organisation, which has lost a many corporate sponsors amid the scandal, has been under fire since news broke in last May of an alleged group sexual assault involving members of Canada's 2018 world junior team and subsequent out-of-court settlement paid for out of player registration fees.
The allegations against the unnamed players have not been proven in court.
"Today marks an important milestone for Hockey Canada in our journey to earn and maintain the trust of Canadians," said Hugh Fraser, chair of the Hockey Canada Board of Directors.
"While I would like to thank Minister St-Onge and the government for their vote of confidence and for their ongoing efforts to prioritize safe sport in Canada, I also wish to stress that we still have work to do to change the culture of our sport."
The three conditions needed to restore funding included becoming a full signatory to Abuse-Free Sport and a commitment to more frequently update the government on work to change a toxic culture. Hockey Canada must also review and implement the recommendations from the independent governance review led by Thomas Cromwell.
CBC reported that Hockey Canada received $7.7 million from Sport Canada in the 2022 fiscal year.
"While federal financing is only a fraction of Hockey Canada's revenues, I wish to reiterate that our funding is not a blank cheque," said St-Onge in a letter to Fraser.
"Hockey Canada also must tackle issues regarding safe sport, such as the toxic behaviours, the trivialization of sexual violence, and the culture of silence, which has too often made the headlines.
"There is no reason why such situations should continue to plague hockey or any other sport."
Fraser, a retired judge, was elected as Hockey Canada's new board chair in December along with eight new directors.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Brampton; Editing by Sandra Maler)