The final report on a government-ordered forensic audit of Hockey Canada’s finances and governance is due in December, Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge’s office has confirmed to Global News.
A spokesperson said in a statement Friday that the review was being finalized this week, with preliminary findings expected to be submitted in September followed by a draft report later this fall.
The findings from the final report will be made public, the statement said.
St-Onge ordered the review on 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 no public funds were used as part of the settlement.
The revelation quickly spiraled into a national scandal over how Hockey Canada handles sexual assault allegations against its players. There are now renewed 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 grilling sessions from a parliamentary committee over the settlement and its decision not to require players from the 2018 team to co-operate with investigators. The existence of a National Equity Fund that draws on minor hockey membership fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including settlements to sexual abuse claimants, also came to light.
That fund, which Hockey Canada says will no longer be used for sexual assault claims, has paid out nine settlements totalling $7.6 million since 1989, executives revealed to the Canadian Heritage committee last month.
Meanwhile, government funding has been frozen and a number of high-profile sponsors have pulled their support from 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 that is due in November.
Former supreme court justice to lead Hockey Canada review
Hockey Canada president and CEO Scott Smith said in a parliamentary hearing last month that he believes he is the right person to continue leading the organization, but if the governance review determined otherwise, he is “prepared to accept that.”
The NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation are also among the growing number of official bodies investigating Hockey Canada over 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 they were involved 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 the multiple investigations and vows of improving the culture within Hockey Canada, a recent Angus Reid Institute survey found nearly 60 per cent of Canadians do not have confidence that change will occur.
—With files from Amanda Connolly and the Canadian Press
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