Hockey Canada and its Members want to end the culture of silence that exists in parts of hockey.
To help ensure that we are a safe space for raising concerns, Hockey Canada has established a new, fully independent, and confidential reporting mechanism for all individuals regarding any incidents involving Hockey Canada sanctioned programming. This reporting mechanism is known as the Independent Third Party and is led by Brian Ward and Erin Durant.
Role of the ITP
The role of the independent third party is to:
- receive all hockey related maltreatment, sexual violence, harassment, abuse or discrimination complaints by someone affiliated with Hockey Canada
- analyze complaints in light of Hockey Canada and Member policies and determine how they are to be managed and the proper jurisdiction
- where applicable, ensure matters are properly reported to law enforcement or child protection services
- retain investigators and dispute resolution panels who are also independent of Hockey Canada
- work with Canada’s Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner and the Member associations to ensure no gaps in complaint coverage and that all complaints are handled in accordance with applicable policies and that decisions are documented in writing
What Type of Incidents can get Reported to the ITP?
Incidents of maltreatment and violations of Hockey Canada’s Code of Conduct that occur on or off-ice may be reported to the ITP. They can be reported by an individual who has witnessed the behavior - anyone from a player, parent, coach, official, volunteer, or spectator. It is understood that communicating directly with those involved in the incident, or even to the coach, manager, liaison, or league may be uncomfortable. Although open communication is always encouraged, individuals can report incidents directly to the ITP. Similarly, coaches, managers, risk and safety officers, and/or any league volunteer can report an incident to the ITP.
What are Possible Outcomes of an ITP Complaint?
The outcomes of the investigation conducted by the independent third party dependent on many factors. Similar to reporting of maltreatment allegations today, outcomes can include education sessions, written warnings, suspensions, or other sanctions. Some complaints will be discarded, if the information is unsubstantiated/can’t be proven, or if noone is willing to speak to the issue.
For a full description of the ITP process, read Hockey Canada’s Discipline and Complaints Policy. Note that this policy and process is new for the 2022-23 season. HEO fully supports the policy and ITP process, and is working closely with Hockey Canada, as well as with local district chairs and leagues to ensure the process is understood and is followed. It is a learning curve for everyone, with the goal of making hockey better and more accepting for all.
Hockey Canada recently presented on the ITP process at HEO’s Risk & Safety forum. For a recording of the session, please email Jeff Baker at email@example.com.
A key feature of the Independent Third Party structure is its independence from Hockey Canada. The Independent Third Party has sole jurisdiction to handle complaints and keeps the identity of complainants confidential from Hockey Canada and Member associations. The Independent Third Party will not be unduly influenced by anyone at Hockey Canada regarding the complaint administration process. Although the Independent Third Party mechanism is staffed by some lawyers, those lawyers do not provide any legal advice to Hockey Canada.
Hockey Canada will receive anonymized reports from the Independent Third Party from time to time documenting the number of complaints received, categorizing complaints and reporting on other metrics such as response times and the time required to close complaints. This reporting protects the identity of all those involved with a complaint process while also ensuring proper oversight of the performance of the Independent Third Party.
Reporting Abuse or Harassment is often a difficult process. The Independent Third Party is committed to operating in a trauma informed manner. For example:
- All reports will be kept entirely confidential, in line with the wishes of the person making the complaint. This includes confidentiality from Hockey Canada and Member association staff
- All Complaints will be followed up in a timely manner
- The Independent Third Party has developed resources to share with survivors of abuse and can direct survivors to additional supports
- The Independent Third Party answers questions about the complaint process
- Complaints are taken seriously and rigorously examined
- The Independent Third Party is staffed by a number of diverse professionals reflecting both gender and racial diversity. Service is available in both French and English
Additional resources will be developed as the Independent Third Party continues its work and analyzes the ongoing needs to ensure a safe and trauma informed complaint mechanism.