Ontario Hockey Federation, Hockey Quebec withholding funds from Hockey Canada

Hockey Canada's logo pictured on a jersey. (Graham Hughes/CP)

The Ontario Hockey Federation says it has asked Hockey Canada not to collect the $3 participant assessment fee for its players in the 2022-23 season, a similar move to one announced by its Quebec counterpart on Wednesday.

In a statement sent to Sportsnet, OHF executive director Phillip McKee said his organization made the request to former Hockey Canada board chair Michael Brind’Amour to not collect the fee on July 29.

“It is our understanding now that this request was never directed to the Board before his departure,” McKee said. “Based on this information, the OHF has once again, reaffirmed our formal requested of Hockey Canada to not collect the $3.00 Participant Assessment Fee for the 2022-2023 season.

“The OHF is monitoring the situation at Hockey Canada, as we strive to create effective and meaningful change.  We are unwavering in our commitment to ensure that the game of hockey is available to all in safe, fun and inclusive environment.”

According to its website, the OHF is the largest member of Hockey Canada operating alongside Hockey Eastern Ontario (HEO) and Hockey Northwestern Ontario (HNO) as governing bodies for amateur hockey in Ontario.

Andrea Skinner is the interim chair of the Hockey Canada board.

The statement from the OHF, one of 13 member associations of Hockey Canada, came after Hockey Quebec said it has lost confidence in Hockey Canada and will not transfer funds to the national organization.

Its board of directors adopted a motion Tuesday night saying it does not believe Hockey Canada’s current structure can change hockey culture. 

Hockey Quebec has also decided to keep the portion of registration fees normally handed over to the national organization — $3 per participant.

Sportsnet emailed the 12 member associations other than Quebec on Wednesday and received four replies within 10 hours of the requests — from Ontario, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

Hockey Nova Scotia says its board of governors are meeting next week to review next steps. It said it is closely monitoring the Quebec situation.

“We acknowledge there are very serious issues in the game and much work is needed to improve the culture of hockey. Since 2019, improving that culture has been the main objective of Hockey Nova Scotia. As hockey leaders, we have a responsibility to bring about change,” Hockey Nova Scotia said.

Hockey Saskatchewan general manager Kelly McClintock said his organization had no comment on the Quebec situation or the federal government hearing involving Hockey Canada on Tuesday.

BC Hockey said it is continuing to “participate in the review process, including the Governance Review underway and led by Thomas Cromwell.”

The governing body also says it is closely monitoring the “input and decisions” of fellow Hockey Canada members, including Hockey Quebec.

“BC Hockey is committed to playing a role in accountability for positive change in hockey for our participant members,” a statement obtained by Sportsnet wrote.

Hockey Canada continues to vigorously defend its leadership amid criticism over the handling of alleged sexual assaults and the way money was paid out in lawsuits.

The revelations include an admission by Hockey Canada that it drew on minor-hockey registration fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it “boggles the mind that Hockey Canada is continuing to dig in its heels” as more Canadians lose faith in the national sports body.

“It’s no surprise that provincial organizations are questioning whether or not they want to continue supporting an organization that doesn’t understand how serious a situation it has contributed to causing,” Trudeau said Wednesday, when asked about Hockey Quebec’s decision.

Hockey Quebec’s move also received support from Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge, who has called for a leadership change at Hockey Canada.

“It also sends the message to the leaders at the organization that are holding on to their jobs that Hockey Canada doesn’t belong to them. It also belongs to their members, and they want change. They want a change of culture and they want to fight against sexual violence,” St-Onge told reporters in Ottawa.

“Since the leaders of Hockey Canada are holding on to their jobs, the voting members need to clean the house.”

— With files from CP

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