Tim Hortons informed Hockey Canada this week it has pulled its sponsorship of all men’s hockey programs for the 2022-23 season, the company says in a statement obtained by Sportsnet.
Among those programs is the upcoming world junior hockey championship taking place in Halifax and Moncton.
Tim Hortons, which says it will continue funding women’s, para and youth hockey programs, first suspended its men’s hockey sponsorship in June.
“We’ve communicated to Hockey Canada on many occasions that the organization needs to take strong and definitive action before it can regain the faith and trust of Canadians,” the statement reads. “We’re deeply disappointed in the lack of progress that Hockey Canada has made to date. We officially informed Hockey Canada this week that we have pulled out of all men’s hockey programming for the 2022-23 season including the men’s world junior championships.
“We continue to fund Canada’s women’s and para hockey teams, as well as youth hockey.”
Scotiabank, which also paused its funding in June, also says it will continue to do so throughout the entire 2022-23 season, including the world juniors.
“In our open letter in June, we publicly called on Hockey Canada to hold the game to a higher standard and we are disappointed with the lack of progress to date,” reads Scotiabank’s statement to Sportsnet. “From Hockey Canada, we expect a tangible commitment to transparency with Canadians, strong leadership, accountability with their stakeholders and the hockey community, and improved safety both on and off the ice.
“Ultimately our position hasn’t wavered: the time for change is long overdue.”
The decisions come in the wake of Hockey Canada receiving increased scrutiny for its handling of an alleged group sexual assault in London, Ont., in June 2018 involving members of that year’s world junior hockey team.
Along with Tim Hortons and Scotiabank, several other Hockey Canada sponsors — including TELUS, Canadian Tire and Imperial Oil — previously withdrew their support for the 2022 men’s world junior tournament in August amid demands for systemic change.
Earlier Wednesday, news broke that both Hockey Quebec and the Ontario Hockey Federation have asked Hockey Canada not to collect fees normally handed over to the national organization, which amounts to $3 per sign-up.
Sportsnet emailed the 12 member associations other than Quebec on Wednesday and got four replies within 10 hours of the requests — from Ontario, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
Hockey Nova Scotia says its board of governors is 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 The Canadian Press and Sportsnet’s Mike Koreen