Following the investigation into Hockey Canada and the sexual assault of a young woman in 2018 by members of the world junior team, it has now been revealed that approximately $6.9 million has been paid out over 21 settlements by Hockey Canada since 1989.
Hockey Canada was grilled by members of Parliament as they looked into whether or not the organization had used Canadian funds to pay off the survivors of the assaults. Hockey Canada admitted to using money from the National Equity Fund to settle nine lawsuits.
Much criticism has been directed toward the organization, especially chief executive Scott Smith for signing off on using those funds. The National Equity Fund is generated by membership fees and investments.
While Hockey Canada has now promised to not use funds in settlements, many are calling for Smith’s resignation considering the culture that seems to be present within the organization and his assistance in the cover-ups.
Hockey Canada’s Chief Financial Officer Brian Cairo also testified during the trial and admitted to the use of the funds. “The insurance companies were not going to insure us for those types of instances,” Cairo said.
“We haven’t used money to protect our image,” claimed Smith. “We’ve used money to respond [to] and support victims… so we’ve used money to support families.”
While Cairo and Smith have attempted to defend their actions and have stated a new action plan will be put in place, the concern is this culture seems to have been present for the last 30-plus years. If it has been allowed by the organization’s top officials, how will that culture change moving forward with those same individuals at the helm of Hockey Canada?
The action plan the governing body is referring to states that a six-pillar plan will include a channel for reporting, a tracking system to monitor maltreatment, abuse or harassment and a policy that would force players, coaches and members of the organization to participate in any investigation. The final part of the plan comes after Hockey Canada did not require their athletes to take part in the investigation of the 2018 assault.
With Hockey Canada now under the watchful eyes of the Canadian government, the hope is that the morals and values of the program can be improved upon, but only time will tell if Smith and Cairo are fully committed to the changes they claim they are now supporting.