Quebec creates new system to help athletes report abuse, harassment in sports

Sports (soccer) (Flickr)

Not wanting to relive scandals like that of ski coach Bertrand Charest or the one involving the national artistic swimming team, the Quebec government has decided to come up with a plan to help athletes report abuse.

Isabelle Charest, the province’s junior education minister and minister responsible for the status of women, announced a new policy on Friday that includes an independent and streamlined system.

An officer will be hired to deal with complaints from all Quebec sports federations, regardless of the level of the athletes involved.

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“This is a huge step forward,” said Charest who said that until now, complaints fell to the various federations and were handled in various ways.

Of note, the officer will be able to inform youth protection services if an abuse case involves a minor athlete, and can take the matter to court if necessary.

Victims of abuse or harassment can file a complaint by filling out a form that will be available online, on each of the Quebec sports federations websites, or verbally through the organization Sport'aide.

This policy will officially come into effect as of Feb. 1, 2021.

Yvan Dallaire, Hockey Quebec's director of rules and regulations said his organization is pleased with the announcement.

“Here at the hockey federation, we welcome that, because of the fact that it’s going to take a lot of pressure off our volunteers’ shoulders and our organization’s shoulders knowing that it’s going to be an independent body that will receive those complaints,” he said.

“The fact that it’s going to be an independent body, it’s going to encourage the victims to denounce and to complain about situations that we don’t want to see in sports in Quebec.”

Charest also announced an investment of $1.4 million to promote safety in sports and recreation.

She also reiterated her message of hope for the revival of organized sports, saying that she continues to discuss the matter with public health officials – though for now, there is no change to the status quo.

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