Hockey Canada says it will not collect a participant assessment fee for the upcoming season.
Several provincial organizations had already withheld those fees — typically $3 per participant, including players, coaches, team volunteers and officials — from Hockey Canada in the wake of an ongoing scandal that has embroiled the national sports body for months.
Hockey Canada drew widespread criticism when it was revealed in May it had paid an undisclosed settlement to a woman in London, Ont., after she alleged she was sexually assaulted by eight men, including members of the 2018 men’s world junior team.
Media and government investigations found that Hockey Canada had established three funds to pay for, among other things, sexual assault settlements. Those funds were financed by the $3 participant fees.
Although the federal government and most of Hockey Canada’s largest corporate sponsors have cut funding to the national sports organization in the wake of those revelations, provincial bodies will still pay dues to the umbrella association.
Ontario, for example, pays $25.46 per participant to Hockey Canada, but $2.97 of that money goes to the National Equity Fund, which had been used to pay sexual misconduct settlements, including the payout related to the 2018 allegations.
Because initial invoices were already sent out, Hockey New Brunswick said it will provide a refund of $3 per participant to its minor hockey associations as well as its junior and senior teams in mid-February.
Apart from ongoing investigations related to the London incident, another police probe is underway in Halifax over an alleged group sexual assault involving members of the 2003 men’s world junior team.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Hockey Canada executives have had to testify before parliament’s Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage several times, as that department oversees federal funding for national sports organizations.
Scott Smith was ousted as Hockey Canada’s president and CEO on Oct. 11, while its entire board of directors resigned the same day, after a particularly ugly parliamentary hearing the week before.
The board will remain in place until a new interim board is elected at Hockey Canada’s annual general meeting on Dec. 17.
Justice Thomas Cromwell has been tasked with a full governance review of Hockey Canada after its mishandling of the 2018 group sexual assault allegations. Hockey Canada said Oct. 15 it is already implementing two recommendations from Cromwell’s interim report.
Those recommendations include a commitment to have an independent nominating committee review and vet all applications for Hockey Canada’s board of directors positions, including the chair. No names will be added to the voting ballot without the committee’s approval.
The new board of directors will also serve a one-year term as a transition board rather than the standard two years.