AthletesCAN Statement in Recognition of the Canadian Heritage Independent Safe Sport Mechanism Announcement

July 6, 2021 –Today the Honorable Minister Guilbeault and Parlimentary Secretary Adam van Koeverden, announced that the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada will be the lead organization responsible for establishing the Independent Safe Sport Mechanism (“ISSM”). The ISSM will serve to administer the implementation of the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport ("UCCMS") and provide independent services to ensure the fair, transparent, and effective management of reported allegations of maltreatment.

The announcement is the result of the November 23, 2020 Canadian Heritage request for proposal ("RFP") for an Independent Safe Sport Mechanism. The requirements, structure, key responsibilities, and services of the ISSM included in the RFP were informed by the January 2021, McLaren Global Sport Solutions Inc. recommendation report and input from the national sport community.

“Over the last few years, safe sport has rapidly become the number one issue raised by Canadian athletes when they are asked what needs to change in the Canadian sport system," said Pierre-Luc Laliberté, AthletesCAN President. "As such, it has become a large part of AthletesCAN's mandate and we are encouraged by Minister Guilbeault, Parliamentary Secretary van Koeverden, and the Department of Canadian Heritage's investments in the future of safe sport in Canada. We would like to congratulate the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada for being recognized as the organization responsible for establishing the ISSM and look forward to working together to ensure the athlete voice is a central part of the mechanism.”

Today’s announcement is a successful milestone in the three-year long journey to creating a safe, inclusive, and respectful sport environment. In marking this important advancement in Canadian sport, we would like to acknowledge the courageous athlete leaders, both active and retired, who demanded the sport sector address the pervasive unsafe sport environment in Canada. Athletes have been vocal on the necessary elements of the future of safe sport through the 2019 AthletesCAN Safe Sport Summit consensus statements and recommendations, in addition to past and present athlete led initiatives.

While recognizing this is an important step in protecting athletes and sport stakeholders from all forms of maltreatment, we acknowledge the work that remains to creating a truly safe sport environment. It can be stressed that the ongoing commitment of sport sector stakeholders and mandatory adoption will be integral to the success of the ISSM and improving the sport environment for the next generation.

“As an AthletesCAN board member and member of the Safe Sport Working Group, I have been a part of this process since the beginning,” said Olympian (Alpine Ski) and Safe Sport advocate Allison Forsyth. “There will always be more to do to keep our athletes safe and this is a strong step in the direction we need to go. Athletes having a safe place to report is critical for this process to work.” 

"The announcement today is very exciting and provides a first step forward for both para and able-bodied athletes in establishing an independent mechanism to provide athletes a safe and inclusive environment to address safety concerns they have in sport,” said Paralympian (Para Athletics) and Safe Sport Working Group member Jenn Brown. “Congratulations to the SDRCC and look forward to continued work together to dig in and develop a system that athletes connect with to meet our common goal of a safe sport environment for all.”

“While there is still much work to be done, this is an important step forward to hearing the athletes voice and helping in creating Safe Sport for current and future generations of athletes” said 3x Olympian (Bobsleigh) and Safe Sport Workng Group member Neville Wright.

"Athletes have been asking for an independent mechanism to feel safer in their sport environment, and it is exciting to see this mechanism being implemented today," said AthletesCAN Board member and Safe Sport Working Group Chair, Erin Willson (Artistic Swimming). "It is a massive achievement for Canadian sport, and encouraging to see the partnerships between athletes and sport organizations to actualize change." 

Read more:
Athletescan Urges Collective Pursuit Of Safe Sport In Canada, Commends Federal Government On Tangible Action
Athletescan And University Of Toronto Researchers Work Towards Evidence Based Recommendations To Address Abuse In Sport
More Than 1000 Top Canadian Athletes Inform Prevalence Study Of Maltreatment In Sport
Athlete Leaders Unite To Influence Safe Sport Policy In Canada
Respect Group Provides Athletescan Members With Respect In Sport Training
Click here to access additional context and background documents on the UCCMS.



About AthletesCAN
AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, is the only fully independent and most inclusive athlete organization in the country and the first organization of its kind in the world.  As the voice of Canadian national team athletes, AthletesCAN ensures an athlete centered sport system by developing athlete leaders who influence sport policy and, as role models, inspire a strong sport culture.

For more information please contact:
Georgina Truman
Manager, Athlete Relations & Operations
[email protected]

Filed in: