Athletics Ontario Further Strengthens its Sport Safety Net

New Appeal Policy To Incorporate the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada’s (SRDCC) Safeguarding Tribunal

TORONTO – June 10, 2021 – During the last two years, Athletics Ontario (AO) has been strengthening the safe sport environment for Athletics in Ontario. At the core of this safety net is a robust new safe sport policy framework and funding mechanism. AO wants all athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers to feel and be safe – and for parents of all AO athletes to have full trust in the Athletics Ontario sport system, confident that their children are safe and protected.

 “AO has been laser-focused on strengthening the sport safety net”, said Dean Hustwick, President and Chair of Athletics Ontario.  “Our new Safe Sport Policy Manual and Safe Sport Levy combine to establish a formidable safety net for all participants, and positions Athletics Ontario as a national sport leader in helping to establish a safe sport environment.”

Many of the policies have been in place for some time, while others have been updated to reflect today’s sports environment.  The new comprehensive, easy-to-read manual covers everything from an updated code of conduct to new policies regarding children and vulnerable adults and whistle blowers to support a safe sport environment.

“These policies, as well as the obligations outlined in the AO Membership Policy, represent an integrated, concerted and proactive effort to prevent problems before they occur,” explained Hustwick. “AO is committed to preventative measures – and penalties which may include a lifetime membership ban – for those who choose to breach the policies and codes of conduct.”

“In an effort to continue to strengthen our safe sport environment, to mitigate the reliance on volunteers, Board Members and other individuals and to ensure equity and fairness, Athletics Ontario has entered into an agreement with the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC), to make the services of its Safeguarding Tribunal available to handle appeals from decisions made pursuant to AO’s Complaints, Dispute Resolution and Discipline Policy,” explained Paul Osland, Chief Executive Officer of Athletics Ontario. 

The SDRCC is Canada’s premier source for tools and information to help prevent and resolve disputes at the highest levels of the Canadian sport system. It provides professional dispute resolution services to the sport community as well as expertise and assistance regarding alternative dispute resolution.

“We are very pleased to have Athletics Ontario become the first sport organization to designate our new Safeguarding Tribunal as the final ruling authority for its safe sport complaints,” declared Marie-Claude Asselin, Chief Executive Officer of the SDRCC. “We also commend Athletics Ontario for its recent efforts in modernizing its policy suite to foster a safer sport environment for all its members.”

This agreement with the SDRCC and AO’s new Appeal Policy will provide participants with a fair and expedient process for challenging decisions. This new appeal process, combined with AO’s proposed use of independent, professional investigators, case managers and discipline panel members when complaints are first considered, will enhance the dispute resolution process by providing an accessible and professional complaints, dispute resolution and discipline process.

This agreement is yet another component of AO’s comprehensive and ongoing efforts to foster and maintain a safe sport environment for all and is a critical component of promoting, fostering and maintaining a safe sport environment for all our participants. Other critical aspects include the training of coaches and members of club management. Safe sport requires everyone in positions of authority – including coaches and members of club management who receive safe sport training – to help to create a culture of mutual respect, inclusion and safety, and where there is no fear of retribution for speaking up or speaking out. 

To learn more about how safe we’re making athletics in Ontario for our members and other participants, we encourage parents, coaches, officials, volunteers and athletes to view the new Athletics Ontario Safe Sport Policy Manual HERE, or on the Policies and Governance page of the website. Learn more about the SRDCC HERE. 

All questions can be directed to Paul Osland, Athletics Ontario Chief Executive Officer, at [email protected]

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