Hockey Canada responds to federal funding freeze, says it must 'do more'

Hockey Canada logo. (Frank Gunn/CP)

Hockey Canada released a statement on Thursday in response to the government's decision to freeze all funding directed at the organization until certain conditions can be met.

"Hockey Canada is aware that the Minister has set conditions relating to the funds the organization receives from the federal government," reads the statement, provided to Sportsnet.

"Hockey Canada is deeply committed and actively working to foster a culture in our sport where everyone involved feels safe, and of which all Canadians can feel proud. We recognize that as leaders we need to do more – and we are committed to doing just that. In the days and months ahead Canadians can expect to hear more about our work in this area."

On Wednesday, Pascale St-Onge, minister for sport in Canada, laid out the following criteria to be met by Hockey Canada in order to receive any further federal funding: "They must disclose the recommendations of improvement provided by Henein and Hutchison and concrete details of their plan to implement change," and; "They must become signatories to the office of the sports integrity commissioner."

Hockey Canada relies on government funding for six per cent of its annual budget, which amounts to about $7.8 million. The organization has been under the microscope since late last month when news of a settled sexual assault lawsuit emerged dating from allegations in June 2018.

In a lawsuit filed in Ontario Superior Court on April 20, a woman said she was sexually assaulted by eight Canadian Hockey League players in a London hotel room in June 2018. She did not name the players -- they are referred to as John Does 1-8 in the official statement of claim -- and wishes to keep her own identity private. Terms of the lawsuit, which was settled in May, were not disclosed.

On Monday, two high-ranking members of Hockey Canada, outgoing CEO Tom Renney and president Scott Smith, appeared in parliament to be questioned about the organization's roles in the handling of these and other allegations as well as whether public funds were used in the settlement.

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