Province, viaSport partner to take abuse out of the game

July 6, 2022 at 2:34 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

The Province is providing $500,000 to viaSport’s Play Safe B.C. program, which aims to prevent and address harassment, abuse, discrimination and other negative behaviours in amateur sport in B.C.

“Abuse in sport or anywhere else is completely unacceptable, and preventing it is a responsibility we all share,” said Melanie Mark, Hli Haykwhl Wii Xsgaak, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “Everyone has the right to be safe and to play in an environment free of harassment, abuse and discrimination. I believe in the transformative power of sport. Through our partnership with viaSport, we are responding to a call to action, and we are committed to leading the way to safer sport experiences with the new B.C. Play Safe initiative that empowers the sport community to better recognize and prevent abuse.”

This funding builds on a $250,000 investment in 2019-20 to support Play Safe B.C. To date, government has made significant progress on protecting people in sport and promoting a shared understanding of the behaviours that ensure inclusive, accessible and positive experiences free from all forms of maltreatment.

“I commend the Province of British Columbia for their commitment to creating a safer sport environment for all participants,” said Pascale St-Onge, federal Minister of Sport. “This is a collective issue that requires a collective solution. We must keep working together to make sure our athletes are able to thrive in a sport environment that is free of abuse, harassment, discrimination and maltreatment.”

Play Safe B.C. focuses on prevention and awareness, complaint reporting, response management and compliance. The first phase has been focused on prevention, and the following steps have already been taken:

  • All provincially funded sport organizations have adopted the B.C. Universal Code of Conduct, which sets out mandatory and prohibited behaviours for B.C amateur sport.
  • Almost 1,000 leaders and board members in funded amateur sport organizations have completed Commit to Kids training, a course by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection that aims to safeguard kids from sexual abuse.
  • Each provincially funded organization is required to feature safe sport commitments and policies on their websites.
  • 200 B.C. sport organizations have committed to the Coaching Association of Canada’s Responsible Coaching Movement pledge.
  • B.C. is promoting the Canadian Sport Helpline (1-888-83SPORT), a federal referral service for victims or witnesses of harassment, abuse or discrimination in sport.

ViaSport has also created a toolkit and has held several workshops to educate sport organizations in B.C. and inform them about the requirements of the B.C. Universal Code of Conduct.

“Working with the Province and our sport partners, we have taken important steps on significant measures to foster sport experiences that are safe and positive,” said Charlene Krepiakevich, CEO, viaSport B.C. “We are encouraged by the progress we have made in strengthening a sport culture where everyone can thrive.”

With this additional funding, viaSport will continue its efforts in prevention by delivering awareness and education programs that help make positive changes to sport culture. This will ensure athletes, coaches, officials, parents and bystanders understand and recognize maltreatment and know what to do if they encounter or witness it. Leaders of sport organizations will also be offered skills training and resources to deliver safer sport experiences.

The Play Safe B.C. program will include practical, accessible tools and resources to help participants at all levels understand and apply the B.C. Universal Code of Conduct in amateur sport. For sport organizations, Play Safe B.C. aims to bridge the gap between policy and implementation and to provide training opportunities, collaborative workshops, engagement opportunities for athletes and coaches, and conflict- and complaint-management tools.

“Sport enriches lives, teaches valuable life skills and builds close-knit communities,” said Emma Gibbons, CEO, Volleyball B.C. “As a leader in sport delivery in the province, we are committed protecting the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of all involved to create enjoyable and safe volleyball experiences in B.C. This funding will support the continued leadership of provincial sport organizations and their members in preventing maltreatment on the ground and to handle difficult situations when they do occur.”

Quick Facts:

  • The Universal Code of Conduct outlines prohibited and expected behaviours for creating a positive sport environment for everyone.
  • ViaSport’s safe sport framework is designed around four pillars: prevent, report, respond and uphold.
  • All 71 provincial sport organizations have adopted the B.C. Universal Code of Conduct for Sport and now provide safe sport information and resources on their websites.

Learn More:

The Canadian Sport Helpline: 1-888-83SPORT

Play Safe BC:

B.C. Universal Code of Conduct and related resources:

Canadian sport policies:

Red Deer Declaration for the Prevention of Harassment, Abuse and Discrimination:

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