Gymnastics

Trudeau says Gymnastics Canada needs to reassure parents the sport is safe

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Gymnastics Canada should be concerned about reassuring parents across the country that the sport is safe.

Federal government froze funding to Gymnastics Canada on Thursday

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, seen during a news conference on July 19, said he's had numerous conversations with the sport minister's office in recent weeks about the failure of sport federations to keep athletes safe. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Gymnastics Canada should be concerned about reassuring parents across the country that the sport is safe.

Trudeau was responding to questions about the federal government freezing the funding to Gymnastics Canada.

Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge told The Canadian Press on Thursday evening that she was suspending the national sport organization's funding until it signs on with the new Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner.

St-Onge froze Hockey Canada's funding recently in the wake of the national organization's handling of an alleged sexual assault and out-of-court settlement.

"I think it's not even about responsibilities to government, because yes, we're demanding that they sign onto the organization for integrity in sports as a condition to full funding," Trudeau said in Stratford, PEI. "They should be worried about satisfying parents across the country that they're keeping their kids safe, that they are an organization promoting the kinds of values, kind of safe environment that every parent has a right to expect for their kids, that we want kids to model."

Trudeau says he's had many conversations with the sport minister's office in recent weeks about several national sport organizations and their failure to fulfil their responsibility to "keep our kids, keep our athletes safe."

"That's why we've made clear requests of Gymnastics Canada and others for more transparency, to sign on to accountability measures, because yes, we need to continue supporting sports, and there's so many great volunteers across the country contributing to young people being able to stay healthy and in sports," he said.

"But we need to make sure we're doing it in a safe way, and we're going to continue making sure that as a government and working with other orders of government, we are pushing for changes that make sure that our kids are kept safe."

WATCH | Canadian gymnasts call for change:

Canadian gymnasts demand investigation into abusive practices, toxic culture

5 months ago
Duration 2:04
Dozens of Canadian gymnasts have signed an open letter calling for an independent investigation into an ongoing toxic culture and abusive practices at Gymnastics Canada. The way elite sports are funded based on performance is part of the problem, according to one expert who studies abuse in sports.

St-Onge is asking all the national sport organizations to sign on with the new Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC), which began receiving complaints about maltreatment in sport on June 20.

The minister has said Canada is facing a safe-sport "crisis," and that allegations of maltreatment, sexual abuse or misuse of funds were levelled against at least eight national sport organizations in her first five months on the job.

More than 500 current and former gymnasts have been calling on Sport Canada to conduct an independent investigation into their sport amid numerous claims of physical, psychological and sexual abuse.

"The number of little kids who look up to sporting figures, if they are in challenging situations or organizations that aren't taking proper care of them, that has a cascading effect through society. We know we have to do more and this government is making sure that happens," Trudeau said.

"But I really want to give a shout-out to all those parents across the country who've been speaking up, speaking out, all those athletes who've been bravely standing up, like all those gymnasts who've said 'This has got to stop.' We need to listen. We need to act. And that's exactly what we're doing."

WATCH | How Canadian amateur sport got here:

Sports psychiatrist explains why Canadian sport is at reckoning point

3 months ago
Duration 8:07
Dr. Carla Edwards says the Canadian sports system is in trouble but offers options to fix it.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

now