Ex-Supreme Court justice says Hockey Canada’s handling of fund used to pay sexual assault claims was flawed


A brand new report commissioned by Hockey Canada says {that a} controversial reserve fund it used to settle a multi-million-dollar lawsuit alleging a 2018 group sexual assault involving World Junior gamers was vital, however there have been critical issues with how that fund was administered, CBC News has realized.

CBC News has considered and verified elements of a 100-page-plus preliminary report written by retired Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell that recommends sweeping modifications.

The report discovered Hockey Canada did not have insurance policies and procedures in place to govern use of its reserve funds, did not totally disclose its funds in monetary information, and broke the foundations by failing to notify members of massive payouts.

Hockey Canada employed Cromwell in August as calls mounted for its leaders to resign after information broke that it had used its National Equity Fund — established to cowl uninsured or underinsured claims — to settle sexual misconduct claims.

Hockey Canada commissioned retired Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell to evaluation its governance construction. (Philippe Landreville/Supreme Court of Canada Collection)

The hockey group has been below intense public scrutiny since May, after a lady filed a $3.5-million lawsuit alleging eight hockey gamers — some of them members of the 2018 World Junior hockey group — sexually assaulted her.

Hockey dad and mom had been outraged to be taught that Hockey Canada used the National Equity Fund — made up partly of their registration charges — to pay for a settlement in that case and others.

It was later disclosed in parliamentary testimony that one other $7.6 million had been withdrawn from the fund since 1989 for different alleged sexual abuse settlements.

‘Protecting predators’

Cromwell reviewed Hockey Canada’s governance construction and located that whereas some provincial federations knew the National Equity Fund responded to historic claims, these members stated they “didn’t suppose its use would come with ‘defending predators’ going ahead.”

Hockey Canada is required to report to its members when new settlements, claims or judgments might value greater than $500,000, however Cromwell discovered the hockey group has at instances failed to notify members. 

Cromwell recognized six instances since 1999 involving settlements exceeding half 1,000,000 {dollars} that ought to have been disclosed. That did not occur, the report stated.

“Our evaluation of members’ conferences summaries over that interval signifies that members didn’t obtain formal discover of these issues,” Cromwell’s report stated.

“However, Hockey Canada has suggested that each one of these discussions would happen in-camera and that they didn’t preserve minutes of these in-camera parts of the assembly.”

WATCH: Hockey Canada CEO, board of administrators steps down

Hockey Canada CEO, board of administrators step down

Hockey Canada has introduced its total board of administrators and CEO Scott Smith have left because the group confronts widespread criticism over the way it dealt with an alleged group sexual assault involving members of the 2018 males’s nationwide junior group.

Cromwell concluded that having the National Equity Fund to “tackle uninsured and underinsured liabilities will not be solely sound … the failure to accomplish that could be a critical oversight.”

“It is suitable to use [National Equity Fund] funds to tackle potential uninsured and underinsured liabilities for Hockey Canada and/or any participant for whose profit the reserve is maintained,” the report stated.

Cromwell nonetheless made a sequence of suggestions.

More than half of gamers’ charges go to National Equity Fund

Cromwell reported that Hockey Canada’s web site and data given instantly to dad and mom did not reveal how a lot cash from gamers’ annual registration charges is being put aside to fund uninsured claims.

Cromwell discovered that out of the $20.80 insurance coverage charge gamers are anticipated to pay yearly, greater than half ($13.65) goes towards the National Equity Fund. He stated contributors want to know that.

“Hockey Canada has in a roundabout way suggested contributors concerning the $13.65 deposited into the National Equity Fund yearly to pay premiums, deductibles and to cowl uninsured losses,” Cromwell wrote.

The report discovered there have been no insurance policies and procedures in place to information the use of Hockey Canada’s reserve funds. He really useful arising with steerage about who can entry the funds, who indicators off on funds and the way such funds are reported to the board of administrators, provincial federations and gamers.

The “Legacy Trust Fund,” which Hockey Canada established to cowl uninsured claims for its members between 1986 and 1995, additionally “had no formal coverage,” Cromwell wrote. The Globe and Mail first reported on the fund, which Hockey Canada stated has not been used but.

Elizabeth Watson, a world governance knowledgeable, stated the report exhibits this case is an “instance of what can go flawed.”

She is the founder of Watson Advisors, which has labored with lots of of organizations on good governance instruments. She stated the report suggests a “tradition of defending the athlete” — one thing she stated she’s seen earlier than in instances the place the foundations weren’t adopted as a result of of the “excessive reverence for elite efficiency athletes.”

“In this case, there have been actually no guidelines and it was a manner to be sure that athletes had been protected and with out regard for the general sense of values that the group ought to stand for,” stated Watson.

Elizabeth Watson, a world governance knowledgeable, says the report exhibits “substandard performance.” (Andrew Lee/CBC News )

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather stated the report sounded “very a lot” like what a parliamentary committee wanting into the Hockey Canada scandal “identified.”

“I believe it’s very tremendous to have a fund like this to cowl uninsured claims, offered that you simply’re clear about it,” stated Housefather, who hasn’t but seen the report. “And offered that these paying into the fund know what the fund is for and what they’re paying for. That was lacking right here.”

Hockey Canada’s executives testified at a parliamentary committee reviewing the matter in July and stated they used the National Equity Fund to assist the complainant.

Hockey Canada’s CFO Brian Cairo advised MPs the group settled the lawsuit as a result of “we did not know all the small print of the night time, however we did imagine hurt was induced.”

Scott Smith, who stepped down as Hockey Canada’s president and CEO this week, additionally testified this summer time that there have been “some questions” about Hockey Canada’s sexual misconduct insurance coverage coverage and “we had been involved it may take months and possibly years to make clear that.”

“We made the choice to settle in one of the best pursuits of the younger lady,” Smith testified on June 20. “We did not need to litigate this. We did not need to undergo the process … and problem her by placing her via that circumstance.”

MEDIA/Hockey Canada official grilled over payouts to alleged abuse victims

Hockey Canada official grilled over payouts to alleged abuse victims

Hockey Canada’s interim board chair defended the group’s management when confronted with pointed questions from MPs about multimillion-dollar payouts to settle sexual abuse claims. Her feedback have prompted new requires Hockey Canada officers to resign.

Julie Macfarlane of the University of Windsor’s school of legislation referred to as Hockey Canada’s reasoning a “utterly disingenuous argument.”

“It was by no means vital to run the sufferer via the court docket course of,” stated Macfarlane, who can also be the co-founder of a marketing campaign to finish non-disclosure agreements referred to as Can’t Buy My Silence.

“If they settle for legal responsibility, there would have been settlement negotiations and no probability of a court docket trial. They additionally didn’t want to bind the sufferer to secrecy and silence in an non-disclosure settlement. That was fully to cowl their very own backs.”

Report recommends bigger board of administrators

Provincial hockey federations met nearly on Wednesday after Smith resigned and the board of administrators stated it could step down. 

The provincial federations mentioned the Cromwell report and are anticipated to meet in-person in Toronto on Saturday to vote on a sequence of suggestions within the report associated to the voting course of.

Cromwell’s report additionally recommends making certain higher gender parity on the board, boosting the quantity of members from 9 to 13 and increasing the phrases for administrators.

The board of administrators election was delayed by a month so this report may come out first, CBC News has reported.

The election is scheduled for Dec. 17.

When requested when Hockey Canada would launch the complete report publicly, the group stated “updates in relation to the continued governance evaluation will likely be made sooner or later.”


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