Ministers responsible for sport, physical activity and recreation will build a safe and welcoming sport environment
Niagara, Ontario, August 6, 2022 – Sport, physical activity and recreation in Canada have to be safe, welcoming and inclusive say federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) ministers of sport, physical activity and recreation after a two-day conference.
The co-chairs opened the FPT meeting by recognizing the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe people, as well as the neighbouring communities of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the long history of First Nation peoples and Métis in Ontario.
Ministers recognized the necessity in ensuring that Canadians can participate in sport free from harassment, abuse, sexual violence and discrimination. A safe sport environment is a collective responsibility. Ministers are demanding a culture change in sport and issued a call to action to leaders across all levels of the sport sector, urging them to address systemic issues and to demonstrate accountability by providing an environment that is free from maltreatment and abuse. Ministers understand the importance of sport for mental and physical wellbeing of our youth and are committed to ensure access to safe sport. The conference was an opportunity for the ministers to assess the progress made to make sport safer since the 2019 Red Deer Declaration, and to discuss next steps towards eliminating abuse, harassment, sexual violence and discrimination.
Ministers recognized the importance of providing sport participants with an independent third-party mechanism to report incidents of maltreatment, including sexual violence and abuse, without fear of reprisal. Ministers agreed to work towards establishing an independent* third-party mechanism in their jurisdiction, including processes for the reporting and resolution of maltreatment allegations for sport organizations funded by a federal, provincial or territorial government in 2023. Jurisdictions may choose to use the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner as their independent third party, or another entity.
Ministers also committed to collaborate with the sport sector and athletes to evaluate the possibility of implementing education and training on anti-harassment and anti-abuse specifically for athletes, including peer-to-peer relationships.
Also, in the context of safe sport, ministers reiterated that concussions remain a major concern. Building on the 2019 commitments—while taking into consideration the context of a progressive return to sport in light of the pandemic—ministers will continue the pan-Canadian efforts on concussion awareness, prevention, detection and management. Ministers will also be encouraging funded sport organizations to have a concussion policy and to explore opportunities for collaboration with the health and education departments in order to enhance awareness and prevention.**
Ministers recognized the importance of collaborating with stakeholders in order to update the most recent version of the Canadian Guideline on Concussion in Sport and other prevention or educational/awareness tools, as well as return-to-sport protocols.
Inclusion and physical activity
Reflecting on their commitment to gender equity in sports, ministers agreed to strengthen their 2019 commitment to increase the participation of women and girls in sport and ensure it remains a priority. It was noted that COVID-related challenges have limited the progress made in this area.
Prior to the conference, the ministers met with the Aboriginal Sport Circle of Canada to discuss priorities such as reconciliation through sport, physical activity and recreation, and initiatives to date, while also sharing stories about the impact of sport and physical activity in Indigenous communities.
Given that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the low levels of physical activity in Canada, ministers agreed to share best practices to increase physical activity as part of daily life.**
Canadian Sport Policy
Ministers received an update on progress towards the renewal of the Canadian Sport Policy. This policy will set the direction for governments, institutions and organizations which recognize the important link between sport, physical activity, and health as well as the positive impacts of sport on individuals, communities, and society. Ministers were informed of the preliminary results of a pan-Canadian consultation which will inform the priorities of the next policy. The Canadian Sport Policy is set to be endorsed by Ministers at the next Ministers’ meeting in February 2023 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
* Quebec has already put in place an independent third-party mechanism for the entire Quebec sport system. Government of Quebec intends to retain full control over its recognized roles and responsibilities in Canadian intergovernmental agreements, including the Canadian Sport Policy. Accordingly, the Universal Code of Conduct will not place restrictions on organizations and stakeholders subject to Quebec’s jurisdiction, including its municipalities and its schools. The Government of Quebec agreed to share information and best practices with other governments. In addition, New Brunswick has also put in place an independent third-party.
** Although Quebec shares many objectives with other governments on these subjects, it has its own programs, action plans, objectives and targets for these matters, all which are under Quebec’s jurisdiction. The Government of Quebec intends to remain solely responsible for defining awareness and prevention measures and tools that are used and disseminated on its territory. It also does not participate in federal, provincial and territorial initiatives in regards to the promotion of physical activity and healthy lifestyles, but agrees to exchange information and best practices with other governments.
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Government of Ontario
Issues Coordinator, Communications Branch, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport