It is an understatement to say that the last few years have been challenging for the sport industry in Canada. First, there was COVID, which jeopardized more than just our sport, but also our day to day lives. Then, there was news of maltreatment in sport. Remember the scandals at Hockey Canada and Gymnastics Canada? Those were the ones that made the most noise, but there were many other scandals in many other sports, including bobsleigh, rowing, waterpolo, and soccer, to name a few.
As a result of the scandals, Sport Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), following the leadership of Minister St-Onge, demanded more accountability from National Sport Organizations (NSOs). The COC created the Canadian Sport Governance Code, a set of guidelines for good governance in the sport industry. National Sport Organizations are now required to be compliant with the Code by April 2025.
What was CEC’s response to all this?
We were humbly reminded of our values, and admitted that we can do better. So we took action.
Summer of 2023: Governance Review – Let’s start with our foundations
Over the summer, we completed a full review of our Governance Policies.
First – we tackled our By-Laws. In order to align with the Code, we had to make some changes: adding term limits for directors; requiring gender balanced-representation and independence of directors (free of conflicts of interest); and the most important one, increasing the athletes’ voice on the Board.
The Code defines an athlete as: “a person currently on a national team or competing at the international level or a person who is retired and was a member of a national team or competed at the international level, not more than eight years previously.”
To conduct the review of our By-Laws, we met with our members (Provincial and Territorial Sport Organizations) and with the athlete leaders of CEC. We had open and fruitful conversations. These conversations led to revised By-Laws that will be up for adoption by the members of CEC at the 2023 Annual General Meeting (AGM), on September 26.
In my opinion, the most significant change to this document is the addition of 2 athlete directors, who will be elected by the athletes of CEC. Being an athlete-centred organization, CEC went above and beyond the requirements of the Code. The Code only suggests that one athlete be allowed to join the Board, the new CEC By-Laws require the Board to have two athletes. The two athletes (as defined by the Code) will be elected through electronic ballot this fall. They will be the co-chairs of the CEC Athletes’ Commission, and will sit on the Board of CEC, with the same roles and responsibilities as the other directors.
CEC went even further with this requirement: we revamped the Athletes’ Commission to include the following Representatives:
- two co-chair athletes elected and appointed to the board of directors;
- one bouldering representative;
- one lead representative;
- one speed representative;
- one para-climbing representative;
- two domestic competitor representatives; and
- no more than three members-at-large nominated by the Commission
Athletes’ Commission Graphic
I truly hope you grasp the importance of this change. For an organization that values “athlete-centeredness,” it is about time that we put athletes front and centre in our Governance! I am extremely proud of this important improvement to our foundations.
Fall of 2023: High Performance Program – let’s build up our pillars
We have more work on our plate. It promises to be a very busy fall season. Now that we have set the framework under which CEC will govern itself, we will conduct a COMPLETE AND INDEPENDENT REVIEW of our Safe Sport Policies (including the Complaints Policy and the Appeals Policy), as well as a HOLISTIC REVIEW of our High Performance Program (HPP), looking into everything from the structure of the HPP, the CNR, team selection, HP Policies, HPP personnel, and more.
With the support of Sport Canada, Own the Podium, and the Canadian Olympic Committee, the CEC High Performance Committee and the Board of Directors issued a Request for Proposals. After reviewing multiple applications, the Board has selected an External Consultant to guide us through this very important review.
Julie Steggall is a seasoned, high performance sports professional. Julie is a former Olympic athlete (1994 Lillehammer Winter Games in mogul skiing). She has a diploma from the National Coaching Institute Program from the University of Calgary. She was the National Team Coach with Canada’s Freestyle Ski Team before moving on to the roles Director of Domestic High Performance Athlete Development and then High Performance Director. She has a successful track record of working with Sport Canada and Own The Podium on High Performance Programs.
Julie understands what we are aiming to achieve: she understands the need for a trusted High Performance Program. She has lived it as an athlete, as a coach, and as an executive.
Julie can be reached at email@example.com
The review of our High Performance Program will include multiple consultations with athletes, coaches, leaders in high performance, and any other interested stakeholders. We want to know: how would you make this program better? Let’s think outside of the box: what do our athletes NEED and how can we better SUPPORT them?
Implementation of the review and launch of the new program – Timeline:
Our community should expect updates throughout the review, and a revised program should be in place for early 2024.
This is not the end – it’s only the beginning. As a not-for-profit, community-based organization, we must do better. We must listen to our stakeholders, and we must implement positive change. All of this must happen throughout intelligent planning and transparent consultations.
The recent scandals in the sport industry, as well as the increased accountability requirements placed upon NSOs, are only reminders that we can, and we will, do better for you, the athletes.
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out for questions or comments. As well, athletes are encouraged to use the Athletes’ Commission Feedback Form if you prefer to remain anonymous.
YOUR Executive Director