OTTAWA – Swimming Canada has taken another important step towards ensuring the sport maintains a safe environment that is free of abuse, harassment or discrimination.
The organization is adding participation in Abuse-Free Sport to its existing robust Safe Sport system. Swimming Canada has entered into a Signatory Agreement with the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada to access the services of the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner.
“This is a positive day not only for swimming but sport in general,” said CEO Ahmed El-Awadi. “The independence of the OSIC office will eventually give all participants in all national sports a place to come forward in a safe environment during the most difficult of situations. This is a key building block for the sports community to continue strengthening the safety of all participants.”
Effective immediately, the OSIC will administer any complaints about admissible allegations of abuse, harassment or discrimination against Swimming Canada designated national level participants. This includes staff, board of directors, High Performance Centre athletes and staff, carded athletes and coaches, identified national officials, master coach developers and a variety of contractors who work with athletes.
Swimming Canada has already adopted the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS), and pledged last spring to join the full OSIC program. In the ensuing months the organization has been updating and approving policies including the Code of Conduct and Discipline and Complaint Policy to align with the new process. The process also required identifying participants in the UCCMS, providing information sessions, and receiving consent forms from those participants to be covered by the new process for national level complaints.
“Swimming Canada is committed to ensuring a healthy and positive environment for all its members,” said President Mary C. Lyne. “Our relationship with the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner provides a clear and independent approach for management of complaints among our membership. This is another step towards ensuring we uphold the principles of the UCCMS and Government of Canada to maintain a safe and inclusive culture for all.”
Abuse-Free Sport is an independent program that is part of a growing national movement to rid Canadian sport of all forms of harassment, discrimination, and abuse. The Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (the Office) serves as the central hub. Where there are admissible allegations of abuse, harassment or discrimination, the Office conducts independent investigations and recommends sanctions against individuals who violate the UCCMS. The Office will also maintain a national sanctions registry, which prevents individuals from evading sanctions by moving to different sports or to different jurisdictions.
The program also includes access to a wide range of resources, including victim services and referrals to specialized mental health professionals and experienced lawyers – all of it available in English and French. Those resources are available at: https://abuse-free-sport.ca/
Swimming Canada is committed to a sport environment free from abuse that is safe for all participants. At whatever level or position they participate, athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers have the right to a safe and inclusive training and competitive environment that is free of abuse, harassment or discrimination.
Swimming Canada’s participation in the Abuse-Free Sport program will be in addition to the independent Safe Sport mechanism the organization already has in place. That program will remain in place for any complaints not covered by the UCCMS, or against a non-designated participant. Those complaints can continue to be directed to the Swimming Canada Independent Third Party by email at [email protected] for national level complaints, or the appropriate Provincial Section for provincial and club related complaints.
Swimming Canada also has multiple education, prevention and response tools available on the Safe Sport section of its website HERE
Swimming Canada has zero tolerance for any type of abuse. Individuals are required to report abuse or suspected abuse. Anyone who has been the victim of abuse, harassment, or discrimination, or has witnessed such an incident, is encouraged to contact the Canadian Sport Helpline by phone or text at 1-888-83SPORT (77678), or by email to [email protected]
An overview of the full updated complaint process, including the new national level complaint process, is available HERE