New Brunswick

Kids holiday hockey camp in Dieppe violated COVID rules, records reveal

Inspections of a Dieppe hockey event with hundreds of children carried out in late December while tournaments were banned found multiple violations of COVID-19 rules, documents released to CBC News show.

Inspector found arena stands 'very much a social gathering' at time gatherings discouraged

The Dieppe UNIplex hosted the East Coast Ice hockey camp in late December. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

An inspection of a hockey camp held in Dieppe in late December found various violations of provincial COVID-19 rules, records released to CBC News show. 

The nine pages of emails from the provincial Health Department include a list of issues noted during an inspection of the event organized by East Coast Ice from Dec. 27 to Dec. 30 at the UNIplex in Dieppe.

The emails indicate the event drew about 240 children, with parents observing in the arena stands at a time when hockey tournaments were banned and gatherings were discouraged. 

An inspection by the Department of Public Safety over three to four hours on Dec. 27 resulted in a list of issues sent to the City of Dieppe. Those issues included: 

  • Unmasked coaches on benches.
  • About 60 spectators in the stands, most wearing masks, but no social distancing. Described as "very much a social gathering, no policing."
  • No mask use in dressing rooms by players.
  • Some players arriving not dressed despite that being required.
  • Dressing rooms only cleaned twice a day and uncertainty about cleaning of benches.
  • Following the municipally-approved COVID plan, but the inspector was uncertain if compliant with Public Health.

"In my opinion, not enough staff on site to ensure full compliance," the notes from the unidentified inspector say.

The inspector indicated that instructions were given to fix the problems identified.

A promotional poster for East Coast Ice's Holiday Game Sense Skills Development Camp says it would feature two days of "game situation skills" and 60 to 80 minutes of "game situations."

The inspector's notes say they observed 30-minute drills, followed by 30-minute scrimmage with coaching on the ice. 

At least one person who described themselves as a hockey parent in Dieppe emailed the Health Department's communications director on Dec. 27 about the event. Their name was blacked out in the records released.

"I am sad to report that it was basically a full-on tournament today," the person wrote, saying they were concerned any future cases would lead to hockey being completely shut down.

Julie Albert, a spokesperson for the city, said in an email to CBC recently that the issues identified by the province were immediately sent to event organizers, who were reminded of the public health rules.

"The corrections were implemented quickly after the inspection," Albert said. She said she wasn't aware of any fines being issued. 

"There were no cancellations or changes to on-ice operations either. Public Health visited during the entire tournament and we didn't receive any other corrective measures."

Calls and emails requesting comment from East Coast Ice went unanswered. 

Recent requests for comment for this story over more than a week went unanswered by Public Health. Those questions included whether there were any cases of COVID-19 linked to the event. 

Education preferred over enforcement

It took the health department three months to provide the nine pages of emails through the province's right to information system. The request was filed after the province wouldn't say what the inspection found.

A similar records request with the Department of Justice and Public Safety was refused in mid-January, citing an ongoing investigation. 

It's unclear what that investigation entailed. A spokesperson for the department suggested in a recent statement to CBC that no fines were issued.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, government has preferred to achieve compliance with public health orders by education and correction rather than formal enforcement actions, except where such efforts fail," Coreen Enos said in the statement.

"This has included thousands of inspections of work sites, from hockey tournaments to restaurants and food processing operations, that ended with organizers adjusting their practices without need of a formal order or a fine."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shane Magee

Reporter

Shane Magee is a Moncton-based reporter for CBC. He can be reached at shane.magee@cbc.ca

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