This week, Canadian newspapers were reporting about another shocking abuse scandal in sports. The multiplication of accusations that have been emerging in Canadian sports demonstrate both the urgency of preventing maltreatment and gender-based violence in sports, but also what may be the start of a culture shift in the field.
In July 2021, the federal government announced the establishment of a new Independent Safe Sport Mechanism to oversee the implementation of the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport. This long-awaited announcement was made in response to numerous calls for action by multiple stakeholders of the sports community.
While this announcement is an important step in protecting the psychological and physical well-being of athletes, the new Mechanism will not be mandatory for provinces and territories. Consequently, it fails to address once of the main concerns raised by the sports community. As long as there are different systems, implementations and standards between provinces, territories and sports, there will be gaps and inconsistencies resulting in maltreatment situations that fall through the cracks.
It’s more than time to listen to our Canadian athletes and create real change. The new Safe Sport Mechanism needs to be mandatory for provincial and territorial sports organizations to ensure consistency and reduce the variances in athlete experiences across the country.