The final report of a government-ordered forensic audit into Hockey Canada’s finances and governance is due in December, Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge’s office confirmed to Global News.
A spokesperson said in a statement Friday that the review was being finalized this week, with preliminary findings to be submitted in September, followed by a draft report later this fall.
The findings of the final report will be made public, the statement said.
St-Onge ordered the review June 2 after TSN reported in late May that Hockey Canada had quietly settled a lawsuit with a woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by eight players, including members of the World Junior Team, in a hotel room following a Hockey Canada Gala in London, Ont., in June 2018.
The review was ordered to ensure that no public funds were used in connection with the settlement.
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The revelation quickly turned into a national scandal over Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual assault allegations against its players. There are now new police investigations into the 2018 incident in London, as well as a separate allegation against members of the 2003 World Junior Team stemming from an event in Halifax.
Hockey Canada executives, meanwhile, have faced multiple toasting sessions from a parliamentary committee over the regulations and its decision not to require players from the 2018 team to cooperate with investigators. The existence of a national equity fund that dips into minor hockey membership fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including settlements to sexual abuse claimants, has also come to light.
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The fund, which Hockey Canada says will no longer be used for sexual assault claims, has paid out nine settlements totaling $7.6 million since 1989, officials revealed to the Canadian Heritage committee last month.
Meanwhile, government funding was frozen and a number of high-profile sponsors withdrew their support for Hockey Canada, including Tim Hortons, Scotiabank and Canadian Tire.
Beyond the forensic audit, former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell is leading a governance review of the organization due to take place in November.
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Hockey Canada President and CEO Scott Smith told a parliamentary hearing last month that he believed he was the right person to continue to lead the organization, but if the governance review in decides otherwise, he is “ready to accept it”.
The NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation are also among the growing number of official bodies investigating Hockey Canada for its handling of sexual assault allegations. A number of players from the 2018 World Junior Team are now playing in the NHL, many of whom have issued public statements denying any involvement in the alleged assault.
The scandal cast a cloud over last week’s world junior championship in Edmonton, which saw low ticket sales despite Team Canada sweeping the tournament and winning gold.
Despite multiple surveys and promises to improve the culture within Hockey Canada, a recent Angus Reid Institute poll found that nearly 60% of Canadians are not convinced that change will occur.
—With files from Amanda Connolly and The Canadian Press
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