Cyberbullying of Canada’s World Juniors brings to light ugly side of hockey culture

Cyberbullying of Canada’s World Juniors brings to light ugly side of hockey culture


Posted Jan 4, 2019 6:12 am PST

Last Updated Jan 4, 2019 at 12:41 pm PST



VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As some of Canada’s World Junior hockey players caught some harsh criticism on social media following a quarterfinal loss this week, it served as another look into the darker side of the culture of the sport.

It can start at an early age through a slightly different lens.

Matt Bell, 19, is a youth hockey official in Stratford, Ontario, and recently posted an open letter on Twitter.

He described getting some nasty verbal feedback from one parent in particular, and is trying to remind everyone that hostility in the face of something you don’t agree with isn’t the best way to go.

Sean Raphael, the referee-in-chief for the B.C. Amateur Hockey Association, says much has been done to take that kind of thing out of youth hockey.

However, he admits it still exists.

“There’s going to be some of that negative feedback, frustration,” Raphael tells NEWS 1130. “People maybe not understanding what the officials are doing when they’re right, or not understanding the human component to it — that they are going to mistakes and how to appropriately, maybe, address their frustration when they see somebody maybe make a mistake.”

While some of the verbal abuse on and off the ice can be extreme, Raphael says everyone needs to continue to work to phase that element out of the game.

“If we want to eliminate checking from behind or head injuries, and we implement rules to address them, overnight the philosophy doesn’t change, right? It takes time to condition it into what the new expectation is. And we maybe need a little bit more focus on what that expectation is of conduct.”

Work is ongoing to try and address the issue, he adds, however, Raphael says sometimes it’s still easy to forget where the line is.

“I think it’s just a matter of everybody in the culture understanding that everyone has a role to play in the game, and that everyone’s an individual person on the ice and that we shouldn’t really get too caught up on trivialities of the sport and that we’re all there for the same goal.”

University of Michigan Fires Gymnastics Coach With Ties to Nassar Scandal

University of Michigan Fires Gymnastics Coach With Ties to Nassar Scandal

Source: The New York Times 

By Mihir Zaveri


The University of Michigan athletics department said Sunday that it would end its contract with a former U.S.A. Gymnastics executive connected to the Lawrence G. Nassar sexual abuse scandal, just days after the university hired her as a coaching consultant for its women’s gymnastics team.

The university’s decision to move on from the former executive, Rhonda Faehn, is the latest fallout from the scandal, in which Nassar, a former doctor for the United States women’s gymnastics team and Michigan State University, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sex crimes against female athletes.

Ms. Faehn, who was fired in May after serving as senior vice president of U.S.A. Gymnastics for three years, had not been charged with a crime in the scandal, the University of Michigan noted when it hired her. She voluntarily testified before Congress in June that she had passed reports about Nassar’s abuse to her boss, the federation’s president, and believed he had promptly acted on them.

But outcry built after she was hired on Thursday, with some university regents and members of the public demanding an end to the contract with Ms. Faehn, The Detroit News reported Sunday.

“I have come to the conclusion that it is not in the best interest of the University of Michigan and our athletic program to continue the consulting contract with Rhonda Faehn,” Athletic Director Warde Manuel said in a statement. “It was the wrong decision, and I apologize.”

The athletics department did not answer further questions about Ms. Faehn’s firing. Efforts to reach Ms. Faehn, who led the women’s gymnastics program at the University of Florida to three straight N.C.A.A. titles, were not successful.

Ms. Faehn was believed to be the first U.S.A. Gymnastics official who was told about Nassar’s abuse, The Indianapolis Star reported in May.

During her testimony before Congress, she described how she had told the former president of U.S.A. Gymnastics, Steve Penny, about a coach’s concerns about Nassar in July 2015. She said that she assumed Mr. Penny would quickly report the concerns to law enforcement, and that he had directed her not to discuss “the current issue” about a member of the medical staff with anyone.

In an announcement about her hiring, Mr. Manuel said that after the university’s “exhaustive due diligence,” it “felt comfortable that coach Faehn reported all information available to her regarding Larry Nassar and that she cooperated fully.”


“Neither an internal investigation by U.S.A. Gymnastics or a criminal investigation by the F.B.I. have assigned culpability or resulted in any charges against her,” Mr. Manuel said in the announcement.

It is not clear what exactly led to the university changing direction or when Ms. Faehn’s contract is set to end. As of Sunday night, the university’s website still listed her as an assistant coach.

Hockey Night in Canada podcast: Women making strides in hockey

Hockey Night in Canada podcast: Women making strides in hockey

Rob Pizzo talks to Hayley Wickenheiser about how far the women’s game has come

Source: CBC Sports · 

The Hockey Night In Canada podcast is a weekly CBC Sports production.

In each episode, host Rob Pizzo is joined by colourful characters within hockey to discuss great moments and great players and talk about today’s stars. The Hockey Night podcast brings you beyond the boxscore with insight you won’t find anywhere else.

In this week’s episode of the Hockey Night In Canada podcast, we are talking about women and the impact they have made in hockey.

Women’s hockey has come a long way in the last 30 years.

Women’s hockey really took off after making its Olympic debut in 1998. The thrilling gold-medal game, in which the Americans topped Canada, started one the greatest hockey rivalries of all time.

Since then, women have taken great strides and are now coaching, scouting, broadcasting and making hall of fame speeches.

But there is still room to grow — why doesn’t the NHL have female referees, head coaches or general managers?

Five-time Olympian and four-time gold medallist Hayley Wickenheiser joins Pizzo to discuss women’s growth in the hockey world. In her role as the assistant director of player development for the Toronto Maple Leafs, she has helped break down barriers and offers insight into what is still considered a male-dominated sport.

WATCH | Hayley Wickenheiser: Hockey is an “old boys’ club and a white male-dominated sport”

This week’s episode focuses on women in hockey — from the front office, to coaching, and also the broadcast booth. 0:59

Cheryl Pounder is a two-time gold medallist, who traded in her stick for a microphone to work as a hockey reporter at the Olympics in Pyeongchang. Pizzo talks to her about her transition into broadcasting.

Ice Level reporter Sophia Jurksztowicz has a conversation with one of the pioneers of women’s hockey —​ Manon Rhéaume. She was the first woman to play in any of the major North American pro sports leagues, suiting up in net for an exhibition game try out with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992.

Be sure to subscribe to the Hockey Night in Canada podcast to get a new episode each week. It’s available on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever you get your podcasts.

Listen to previous Hockey Night podcasts

Episode 14:

With the NHL season reaching the halfway point, it’s time to take a look the highs and lows of the year so far. Stanley Cup champion Glenn Healy helps breakdown what has transpired so far this season.

Episode 13:

We take a look back at the best interviews of 2018, which includes Daniel Carcillo opening up about the hazing he experienced as a member of the Sarnia Sting.

Episode 12: 

Hockey books are the perfect gift for any rabid fan and Jay Baruchel, Ken Reid and James Duthie have a few suggestions that should cover anyone on your holiday lists.

Episode 11:  

The NHL recently confirmed that when the 2021-22 season begins, there will be 32 teams in the league. We take a closer look at Seattle’s expansion bid, the history of expansion, as well as the future of expansion.

Episode 10: 

The axe has fallen on four coaches and one general manager so far this season, but we sometimes forget that coaches are human and have families. Former NHL coach Barry Melrose breaks down what life is like for coaches after they’re fired.

Episode 9:

Hazing has been an accepted part of hockey for decades now. But recently some disturbing stories have come into the public eye. Stories that involved abuse, bullying, and some horrible behaviour … all disguised as “hazing.”

Episode 8: 

They’re a unique breed — the keepers of the crease are often known to be a little eccentric. Ilya Bryzgalov joins in to help explain what makes them so different from their teammates.

Episode 7:

Recent HHOF inductee Jayna Hefford joins Pizzo to break down the 2018 class, while selection committee member Brian Burke sheds some light on who the most important person in the game is — and it may not be who you think.

Episode 6:

Pizzo sits down with Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean to talk about the top storylines one month into the season and MacLean also fuels the debate over who the best player in the game is right now.

Episode 5:

Hockey fans depend on certain trusted insiders to get their breaking news, but how exactly do they get these scoops? Turns out it’s harder work than some might expect.

Episode 4:

The fans love seeing the puck in the net…so what about the poor guys between the pipes? Are they getting pummelled for the sake of rule-tinkering?

Episode 3:

Could there be a more thankless gig? Perfection means being ignored. A single mistake and you are marked for years of noisy abuse. Don Koharski officiated over 1,700 regular season games. He and Pizzo discuss the infamous “donut incident”.

Episode 2:

Rivalries are the heart and soul of NHL excitement, but the days of brawling are mostly a thing of the past. Chris Nilan and Kris Draper talk about those old grudges, while some current players insist rivalries are as hot as ever.

Episode 1: 

At the beginning of every NHL season, hockey fans generally have more questions than answers when it comes to their favourite teams — and the start of the 2018-19 campaign was no different. Pizzo tackled five burning questions on the minds of the hockey faithful.

With 70% rise in workplace violence in past 10 years, new rules welcome, says WorkplaceNL

With 70% rise in workplace violence in past 10 years, new rules welcome, says WorkplaceNL

WorkplaceNL accepted more than 230 claims of violence in the workplace, last year, says CEO

Over the last 10 years, workplace violence has increased by over 70 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador, according to Dennis Hogan, CEO of WorkplaceNL.

He revealed the startling statistic Wednesday at a government event announcing changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

“In 2018 alone, WorkplaceNL accepted more than 230 claims that were caused by violence in the workplace, and that includes worker-on-worker violence,” he said.

Eighty-five per cent of those claims came from the health-care sector, he said, “particulary in relation to long-term care facilities and patients that may have cognitive challenges and impairments.”

The rest of the claims come largely from the service industry, he said.

Hogan says workplace violence has increased by over 70 per cent in the last 10 years. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

The regulation changes announced Wednesday by Sherry Gambin-Walsh, minister of Service NL, cover worker-on-worker violence and harrassment for the first time and include the following new rules:

  • Employers must develop and implement a plan to prevent harrassment, as well as a plan for dealing with dealing with harassment.
  • Employers must investigate any complaints and keep all informatin shared between them and the employee confidential.
  • Employers must take harassment-prevention training.

The changes take effect Jan. 1, 2020, leaving one year for employers to develop harassment-prevention plans, risk assessments and conduct training, which will be provided for free by WorkplaceNL.

Changes are ‘monumental’

Paula Corcoran knows first-hand how workplace harassment can bring a life and a career to a halt.

She says it took her seven years to recover from the harassment and abuse she suffered for three years while working as an aircraft technician.

“The sexual harassment, the innuendos, the conversations that often happened around the quality of my work, the rationale behind my ability to do my work, the rationale behind my ability to be promoted were often — sometimes inadvertently, but sometimes directly — linked to my ability to perform sexual duties, for example,” she said.

“It is very difficult to be faced with that type of harassment and innuendos, and undermined on a daily basis.”

Paula Corcoran says she suffered bullying and harassment at her workplace for three years, and that she had to change careers because of it. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

She said she was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and social anxiety because of what she endured and that she had to switch careers entirely because of it; she now works in the mental health and addicitons sector.

The regulation changes announced Wednesday are “monumental,” she said, for both employees and employers.

“If this regulation was in place when I was working, I feel that the harassment would have been challenged and taken care of in the first months of my employment, and I would have continued in that field. I really enjoyed working in the aircraft industry.”

Richard Alexander, the executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council, agreed with Corcoran that employers will also be better off with the new regulations.

“This is a very positive announcement,” he said.

“I think where this will help is smaller employers that never really thought about the potential for this in workplaces.”

Changes come after scandal in the House

Harassment is a familiar topic for Gambin-Walsh, who filed a complaint against fellow MHA Eddie Joyce, while they were both cabinet ministers.

The ensuing investigation became a matter of great public interest and scrutiny, leading to many elected officials calling for a better way to handle complaints in the future.

The provincial government passed a private member’s resolution to ask the privileges and elections Committee to create a new harassment policy specific to MHAs.

Gambin-Walsh, minister of Service NL, says the new changes will make a safer workplace for everybody. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

In the end, Joyce was found to have violated the members’ code of conduct and was forced to apologize in the House of Assembly.

Former MHA Cathy Bennett lobbied for the changes to the legislation before her resignation. She took up the cause after a man was acquitted of causing a disturbance for hurling a sexist insult at NTV reporter Heather Gillis.

“A workplace can also include public sidewalks where a female reporter may be doing her job,” Bennett said in a release at the time.

9 health and safety trends for 2019

9 health and safety trends for 2019

Harassment is biggest workplace hazard

Jan 14, 2019

By Dave Rebbitt 

Looking ahead in 2019, some things that dominated the latter half of 2018 will continue to have an interesting impact on workplace health and safety:


In 2018 Alberta joined other provinces in declaring bullying and harassment a workplace hazard. This is a result of the rising concerns over mental health, and it is pushing safety professionals away from the traditional small “h” health and safety.

In those provinces that have made bullying and harassment a workplace hazard, it is rapidly becoming the number 1 issue for regulators to deal with. That should put it on everyone’s radar.

Regulators are handing out orders to employers to investigate harassment complaints and conduct hazard assessments, put programs in place and provide necessary training.

Most people are ill equipped to investigate a harassment complaint and the versions of events can shift. The person complaining tends to be traumatized leading to inconsistent statements.

North American workplaces tend to prize those who are driven, can accomplish goals and get others to work harder. While those attributes exist in every leader, they also describe bullies. There is a big difference, but it is sometimes hard to see. Addressing these issues will challenge all safety people in the coming years.

Determining the safety of a workplace is a fairly well-established process. However, determining the mental health of a workplace for a specific person is not. Bullying and harassment is not about physical hazards or potential risk. It lies with perception, feeling and human interaction. Complex is an understatement.

I have seen many bullying and harassment investigations make things much worse by being done poorly or being delayed. Does your organization even have a process that is clear and understandable?

Random drug testing

The question of random testing was clearly spoken to by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Irving decision in 2013. However, there has been a battle in Alberta between energy giant Suncor and the union representing many of the workers, Unifor.

In December, Unifor and Suncor reached an agreement and random testing will proceed in the first quarter of this year. While the case was not fully resolved, both parties seemed to agree that drug issues were present.

To justify random testing, the Supreme Court of Canada has placed the burden of proof on the employer to demonstrate that it is needed and there are no other reasonable options. The requirement for testing had been contested by Unifor on the grounds that it was an infringement of worker rights and that there was no significant problem that would merit random testing.

With marijuana legalization, Unifor may have conceded that Suncor’s argument for random testing to maintain worker safety had some merit. Unfortunately, this leaves no definitive decision on record regarding the imposition of random testing in a unionized workplace.

Marijuana was legalized

Despite the doom scenarios and the many presentations at conferences regarding marijuana in the workplace, the sky did not fall. Online conversations were rife with opinion and ignorance on this topic.

Most employers already had all the tools they needed to deal with legalization at their disposal. Drug and alcohol testing for cause has been with us for many years. The debate was around impairment, which is not appropriate at all.

Drug testing is about setting reasonable limits. Workers who test positive are deemed to have violated the policy on drugs and alcohol. They are not deemed to be impaired. Having breached the policy does come with varying consequences depending on the situation and the findings of an investigation.

Many safety professionals refused to participate in the marijuana legalization hysteria. In the end, the overall impact was moot.

New designation

Many are aware that the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP), brought out a new designation. Joining the CRSP is the Canadian Registered Safety Technician (CRST). The intake has begun and there is a lot of interest in the new designation.

CRST is meant to assist those with significant experience in the field make the leap to a national professional designation. The educational requirements are less than what is required for the CRSP and the exam will also be simpler. CRST provides a more logical career progression to safety practitioners across Canada as the CRSP may not be a good fit for everyone.

ISO 45001 was released

I have written about this one before and the news is not terribly exciting or impactful. It has prompted the CSA and ANSI to review CSA Z1000 and ANSI Z10 to find alignment with the new ISO standard. Some governments are looking at it as a possible measure of safety or a tool to assess employers.

I would still maintain that very few companies have a management system. Such things work well for large employers but not at all for small ones. “Management system” has become synonymous with “program” in much the same way many interchangeably use risk and hazard.

BBS continues to wither. Is safety culture next?

This is a surprising one in some ways. Behaviour based safety (BBS) has defined safety for 30 years, but more and more professionals are turning away and questioning the utility of BBS.

Over the past years I have seen a growing number of safety professionals, and students, question the underlying assumptions of BBS.

I see the same conversations happening around other buzzword-heavy pursuits, like “safety culture.” We see things like “safety differently”, “human and organizational performance” (HOP) and “human factors” being bandied about by people who have been selling BBS and are looking for the next thing. Understanding of these important concepts seems optional to some.

Criminal prosecutions of safety incidents

Last year I wrote about the Fournier case in Quebec where a business owner was charged with manslaughter. Manslaughter simply means someone dies as a result of a law being broken. In this case it was the safety law.

Sylvain Fournier was convicted in September and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

In Ontario, the business owner of Rainbow Concrete in Sudbury, Ont. has been charged with criminal negligence causing death. Criminal charges were laid even though the Ministry of Labour had laid 12 charges in connection with a death on the company property on Feb. 5, 2017.

Interestingly, the police and Ministry of Labour worked together on the case and the police found enough grounds to lay a criminal charge.

Use of the negligence and manslaughter provisions of the Criminal Code may be on the rise. A recent story in Calgary highlighted the Westray memorandum signed by police services and the intent to investigate serious workplace incidents by police. Twenty-eight Calgary police detectives have received special training to assist them in completing these investigations. More police services are sure to follow suit.


By the end of 2018, all federally regulated workplaces had to be complaint with the Global Harmonized System (GHS). Because provinces regulate most of the workplaces in Canada, Health Canada is trying to coordinate a simultaneous move to GHS. Health Canada owns WHMIS and now GHS. The controlled products regulations that governed WHMIS were replaced by the hazardous products regulations years ago.

WHMIS 2015 is the transitional process and training to allow companies to prepare and train employees for the transition to GHS. No word on when the legislative changes will be made in the provinces. This has caused a bit of confusion, as suppliers are already providing safety data sheets (SDSs) instead of material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and GHS labelling is already in place on many products.

Professional regulation

In 2018, BCRSP was working in several provinces to establish at least a definition of what a safety professional is. There have been meetings with government and regulatory officials in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

The way to a recognized profession nationally actually lies with the provinces recognizing legitimate organizations and designations. It seems counterintuitive that to get a national profession, we must start in at least a few provinces.

However, this is how almost all other professions have begun and become recognized and even regulated. BCRSP has a new commitment to advocacy for the profession and engagement with CRSPs and the new CRSTs.

This has included providing comment and stakeholder engagement on major legislative and policy changes that would affect CRSPs and CRSTs. It will include more connect events and engagement with CRSPs and CRSTs in 2019.

BCRSP is working with the Canadian Society for Safety Engineering (CSSE) on an accreditation framework to explore other possible designations. Work will be undertaken to establish an educational standard for safety programs in Canada as they vary quite a bit.

KPMG in Canada joins forces with Respect Group Inc.

KPMG in Canada joins forces with Respect Group Inc.



Jan 15, 2019, 08:00 ET

Strategic alliance formed to create respectful, healthy and safe workplaces

TORONTOJan. 15, 2019 /CNW/ – KPMG in Canada announced today that it has joined forces with Respect Group, a forward-thinking organization founded by former NHLer turned victims’ rights crusader Sheldon Kennedy to deliver training to organizations to equip employees with the education and skills needed to prevent bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination (BAHD) in the workplace. Together, KPMG and Respect Group will provide companies with a leading-edge training curriculum that addresses the evolving needs of the #MeToo era.

“By joining forces with KPMG we elevate the potential to really change culture, not just push for compliance. This alliance and our collaborative approach to creating more respectful workplaces allows organizations to move from policy to making this a priority,” says Sheldon Kennedy, Co-Founder of Respect Group. “I am excited to keep moving the bar alongside KPMG!”

The curriculum begins with a foundational, online ‘Respect in the Workplace’ certification for employees before shifting to customized, client-specific, on-site workshops that build awareness and knowledge, followed by ongoing ‘Lunch & Learns’ to provide employees with the skills needed to contribute to a respectful workplace.

“Enabling organizations to build and sustain respectful cultures and mentally healthy workplaces are key priorities for us at KPMG,” says Soula Courlas, Partner and National Leader for People & Change Advisory Services. “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Sheldon and Respect Group to help businesses enhance their workplace cultures, not only to eliminate unacceptable behaviours, but to create positive and supportive environments that unlock the diverse skills and ideas of their most valuable asset – their people. We truly look forward to making a positive impact on workplaces across the country through this practical and powerful service offering.”

By joining forces, KPMG in Canada and Respect Group will begin to change workplace cultures by helping companies on their journey to prevent BAHD, empower the bystander and create a psychologically safe workplace.

About KPMG in Canada

KPMG LLP, an Audit, Tax and Advisory firm ( is a limited liability partnership, established under the laws of Ontario, and the Canadian member firm of KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”). KPMG has over 7,000 professionals/employees in 38 locations across Canada serving private and public sector clients. KPMG is consistently recognized as an employer of choice and one of the best places to work in the country.

The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International, a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity, and describes itself as such.

About Respect Group Inc.

Respect Group ( was incorporated on April 5th, 2004 by co-founders, Sheldon Kennedy and Wayne McNeil, to pursue their common passion: the prevention of bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination (BAHD). Respect Group is made up of a team of over 30 talented individuals whose passion is to create a global culture of Respect. As Canada’s leading on-line provider of prevention education related to BAHD, Respect Group has certified over 1.2 Million Canadians involved in sport, schools and the workplace. Respect Group is a Certified B Corporation (


For further information: Ashley Lewis, Senior Manager, National Communications, KPMG in Canada, (416) 777-3787,

Chandra Crawford, Sheldon Kennedy amplify call on Ottawa to police athlete abuse and harassment

Chandra Crawford, Sheldon Kennedy amplify call on Ottawa to police athlete abuse and harassment



A group of Canadian sport leaders have lent their voice to the growing chorus calling for an independent body to handle cases of harassment and abuse.

Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy and Olympic cross-country skiing gold medallist Chandra Crawford were among the coalition of some three dozen sport organizations, researchers and athletes who sent an open letter Friday to Kirsty Duncan, Canada’s Minister of Science, Sport and People with Disabilities.

Olympic cross-country skiing gold medallist Chandra Crawford has lent her name to an effort calling on the federal government to create a third-party body to handle cases of harassment and abuse in Canada’s national sports organizations.
Olympic cross-country skiing gold medallist Chandra Crawford has lent her name to an effort calling on the federal government to create a third-party body to handle cases of harassment and abuse in Canada’s national sports organizations.  (JEFF MCINTOSH / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

“Canada is at a crossroads in its efforts to eliminate the scourge of gender-based violence in sport,” the coalition wrote. “It is clear that the 1996 Sport Canada policy to prevent harassment and abuse in sport has not been effective.”

Duncan is expected to present a proposal on dealing with athlete abuse in Canada to cabinet on Tuesday.


Safe sport has been governed through the Sport Canada Accountability Framework since it was implemented in 1996 in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal involving former junior hockey coach Graham James and Kennedy. Kennedy founded the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in the wake of abuse at the hands of James.

Sports must have a safe sport policy, and a designated individual to handle complaints, in place to receive government funding.

But critics complain policies aren’t adequately applied.

There are two policy directions being proposed, according to Gretchen Kerr, a kinesiology and physical education professor at the University of Toronto. Canada’s national sports organizations (NSOs) have proposed developing a sport-by-sport system of self-regulation, with more consistent enforcement by Sport Canada. And a coalition of multi-sport organizations, researchers and retired athletes have proposed establishing a single, independent, arm’s length system of education, investigation and compliance.

“The undersigned strongly urge you to endorse the second approach and put in place the steps to realize it,” the letter to Duncan said.

“It’s become quite divisive … there are clearly two distinct points of view on how to move this whole agenda forward,” said Kerr, one of the signees. “A complainant has the option to take it to the NSO, the PSO (provincial sport organization) or an independent body, but it all flows through the NSO. And so the NSO is still playing a triage role, determining whether a complaint is major or minor, and whether it should be handled in-house, or should be handled independently.

“The other problem is the conflict of interest that currently exists, if the complaint goes to the NSO and it involves an Olympic coach or whatever, there are real implications for the NSO and even the staff, if that’s brought forward because the funding for NSOs depends on the team’s performance.”

Canada has had its share of high-profile sex abuse cases in sport. Marcel Aubut resigned as Canadian Olympic Committee president in 2015 after an investigation over numerous sexual harassment complaints.

In June, several former members of Canada’s ski team spoke publicly about the abuse suffered at the hands of former coach Bertrand Charest in the 1990s. Charest was convicted last year of 37 offences of sexual assault and exploitation.

Last month, the sexual assault trial of former Canadian women’s gymnastics coach Dave Brubaker wrapped up in Sarnia, Ont. Brubaker has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of sexual exploitation, and Justice Deborah Austin is expected to deliver her decision on Feb. 13.

Olympic champion Erica Wiebe was among a group of Canadian wrestlers who wrote an open letter to Duncan last month appealing for a third-party body to handle complaints.

“Sport-by-sport self-regulation means that there will be as many different approaches to gender-based violence as there are sports bodies, a situation that is inconsistent with the principles of uniform treatment and the values of Canadian sport,” Friday’s letter said. “There is clear evidence of the failure of self-regulation. A 2016 study of 40 NSOs showed that after 22 years of Sport Canada’s requirement to have a publicly accessible policy, many of the NSOs had limited policies, often hidden on their website, or no policy at all.”

The coalition argued that sport in Canada is the only remaining child-populated domain that is self-regulating and autonomous, leaving young people vulnerable to harassment and abuse. They stressed that no country has ever developed an effective policy for sport organizations to self-regulate harassment and abuse.

The coalition is proposing a universal policy that has the capacity to investigate all allegations and provide counselling to those affected; mandatory application to all federally-funded sports; focus on education and prevention; and eliminating financial barriers to complainants and sports by providing appropriate funding and fee structures.

She was grabbed, endured sexual taunts and followed into the washroom. The WSIB says this wasn’t workplace harassment

She was grabbed, endured sexual taunts and followed into the washroom. The WSIB says this wasn’t workplace harassment

The Star


The presence of “pin-up girls and scantily clad models” throughout a workplace is “unprofessional,” but is not bullying or harassment.

The use of “sexually explicit language” to and about “women and alternative lifestyles” on the job is “inappropriate,” but is not bullying or harassment.

Misogynistic comments about “having to work with women” are “upsetting,” but are not bullying or harassment.

Being physically swarmed by members of the public and called a dyke on the job are “unwelcome” behaviours, but are not bullying or harassment.

And none of it is grounds for a worker diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress to win a chronic mental stress claim, according to a recent decision by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

“I’m actually, I guess, shocked more than anything. Not by the fact they denied it. But the language they used to excuse it all is, in this day and age, I find that really shocking,” said Margery Wardle, a former heavy equipment operator whose case was shut down by the board last month.

Margery Wardle, who had worked as a heavy equipment operator with the former City of Nepean, is shown on the job at a tree farm in this undated photo. Her chronic mental stress claim was recently denied by the WSIB, which ruled her negative experiences on the job, including being subjected to sexually explicit comments, were simply “interpersonal conflict.”
Margery Wardle, who had worked as a heavy equipment operator with the former City of Nepean, is shown on the job at a tree farm in this undated photo. Her chronic mental stress claim was recently denied by the WSIB, which ruled her negative experiences on the job, including being subjected to sexually explicit comments, were simply “interpersonal conflict.”  (SUPPLIED PHOTO)



“They don’t try and pretend that it didn’t happen. They just dismissed it.”

While the decision seen by the Star does not dispute Wardle’s experiences on the job, it says her “stress appears to be in response to interpersonal conflict,” which is not covered by the board’s chronic mental stress policy.

“Interpersonal conflict is a typical feature of normal employment and is generally not considered to be a substantial work-related stressor,” the decision reads.

In a statement to the Star, board spokesperson Christine Arnott said the WSIB wanted “anyone dealing with work-related chronic mental stress (CMS) to get the help and support they need.”

The policy, which took effect last year, extends benefits coverage to cases where employees experience a “substantial work-related stressor” and abusive workplace behaviour that rises to the level of workplace harassment. Under the policy, workers are not entitled to chronic stress compensation for “typical features” of employment, including problems stemming from discipline, demotions, transfers or termination.

“When we look at these claims we have to consider all facts and circumstances surrounding the events and allegations, including any actions the employer has taken to address the issues,” Arnott said.

“The definition of harassment that guides our decisions, and is included in our CMS policy, is consistent with the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) and guidance from the Ontario Human Rights Commission.”

Wardle’s lawyer, Laura Lunansky of the Toronto-based legal clinic Injured Worker Consultants, said she was “surprised” by the board’s decision.

“And not very much surprises me anymore about decisions,” she said.

“It was surprising because on its face, it doesn’t make sense in a way that I think shows a complete lack of understanding of the human rights code, and of what a toxic workplace might look like,” Lunansky added.

“You have comments that I think any reasonable person would recognize are evidence of discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation.”

Wardle’s claim dates back to the mid ’90s when she began working in public works for the City of Nepean. As one of the only women in the workplace, she was repeatedly subjected to sexually explicit comments, references to her sexuality, pornographic material in the workplace, and physical harassment and intimidation, including being grabbed and followed into the women’s washrooms, according to her claim.

The tipping point was being “swarmed and verbally attacked” by members of the public while working at a hockey arena in 2002, after which she went on sick leave and was subsequently diagnosed with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to the WSIB’s decision, Wardle’s concerns with her workplace were not reported to her employer until she was hired into a permanent position, and a subsequent investigation found a “healthy workplace free of harassment.”

Wardle said she repeatedly raised her concerns with management, who initially took some steps to address the problems. But when Nepean amalgamated with the City of Ottawa, she said that layer of management disappeared and some of her harassers received promotions.

“That’s when the retaliation started,” she said. “I did try and return to work, but that didn’t last long because the behaviour just intensified.”

The sexually explicit behaviour, misogynistic and derogatory comments she experienced did not constitute sexual or verbal harassment, the WSIB’s decision said. As for being repeatedly followed into the women’s washroom, the decision said her employer “noted that the women’s restrooms were used by the male staff out of convenience of location.”

“While Ms. Wardle reports recurrent physical harassment and intimidation by her co-workers, I find the incidents of blocking her path of travel and bumping her on the stairs do not provide evidence of abusive or harassing behaviour,” it adds.

Critics have already warned that the acceptance criteria for chronic mental stress claims are too narrow. Workers filing for chronic mental stress, for example, must prove their workplace was the “predominant cause” of their illness — while workers with physical injuries must simply show their workplace was a significant contributing factor.

As first reported by the Star, an internal WSIB audit shows that 94 per cent of chronic mental stress claims between January and May were denied.

Previously, workers could only seek compensation for mental health injuries caused by a traumatic incident, not those triggered by ongoing harassment or trauma in their workplace — which labour advocates and legal experts described in a 2016 ombudsman complaint as unconstitutional and discriminatory. Following legislative reforms, the board subsequently changed its policy to allow chronic mental stress claims.

Initially, the new policy only covered claims from January 2018. It was amended to allow retroactive claims following a lawsuit involving Wardle’s case, launched by prominent Toronto-based labour law firm Goldblatt Partners.

Wardle and Lunansky plan to appeal the recently denied claim.

“The (chronic mental stress) policy is flawed, we know that and we will challenge that,” said Lunansky.

“But even within the policy, this should have been allowed because it’s just patently a case of harassment and a poisonous work environment and incidents that go way beyond interpersonal conflict.”

Ontario’s human rights code prohibits harassment — or unwelcome comments and conduct that are offensive, embarrassing, humiliating, demeaning or sexualized — as well as the creation of a “poisonous environment,” which is considered a form of discrimination.

Wardle said she contacted the Ontario Human Rights Commission while she was still working and was told the incidents she described were “sexual harassment and it should not be happening in my workplace.”

“My career is gone now, a career I loved. I was really proud of what I did for a living. Losing that has been a tremendous loss,” Wardle said.

“So I figure at this point I might as well keep on fighting. This is what I’m left with.”

Correction — January 7, 2019: The photo caption was edited from a previous version that misspelled Margery Wardle’s given name.

Are you being bullied, humiliated or abused at work? Many Canadians are, study finds

Are you being bullied, humiliated or abused at work? Many Canadians are, study finds


The Globe and Mail


Harassment’s toll

Workplace harassment in all its ugly forms is taking a heavy and crushing toll in Canada.

And women are suffering abuse more than men across all categories, a new study by Statistics Canada researchers warns.

Verbal abuse is the most prevalent, senior research analyst Darcy Hango and senior researcher Melissa Moyser said in their report.

Mr. Hango and Ms. Moyser based their study on the results of a 2016 General Social Survey on Canadians at Work and Home, when people were polled on five categories, including verbal abuse, humiliation, threats, physical violence and sexual attention or harassment.

Proportion of men and women who reported workplace harassment in the past 12 months, by type, 2016

workplace harassment statistics, statscan, abuse, work abuseAmong their findings:

One: Nineteen per cent of women and 13 per cent of men said they had suffered workplace harassment over the last year.

Two: Verbal abuse was most common, reported by 13 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men.

Three: Verbal abuse was followed by “humiliating behaviour,” suffered by 6 per cent of women and 5 per cent of men.

Four: About 3 per cent of women and men said they were subject to threats.

Five: Sexual harassment affected 4 per cent of women, and less than 1 per cent of men. And among the women, the researchers said, “more than half were targeted by clients or customers.”

Six: Health care workers were “most likely” to have been harassed, and “the differences between those in health and other occupations are more pronounced for women than men.”

Seven: Almost half of the men and 34 per cent of the women harassed by a manager “had a weak sense of belonging” to their employer. That compared to 16 per cent among both women and men who had not been harassed.

Obviously, this takes a heavy toll.

“Workers who reported workplace harassment were more likely to be dissatisfied with their current job, have low motivation to do their best work, be more likely to say they are planning to leave their current work, and have a weak sense of belonging to their workplace,” Mr. Hango and Ms. Moyser said.

“These workers also had worse health – general and mental – as well as higher levels of reported stress, and a less hopeful view of the future,” they added.

“Harassment in the workplace therefore has a considerable impact not only on people’s lives, but also on employers.”

What we can learn from St. Mike’s to keep our kids safe

What we can learn from St. Mike’s to keep our kids safe

Peter MacKay, former federal justice minister and attorney general, is the board chair of the Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Center. Karyn Kennedy is the organization’s CEO.

Many Canadians have paid close attention to the criminal proceedings involving students at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto, which have included assault and gang sexual assault. At Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre, we have been supporting victims and families involved in this case, as we have been doing for thousands of victims and their families in Toronto for more than 30 years. The storied history of the school has made the St. Michael’s case seem exceptional; but sadly, it is not. Even in the weeks after the St. Michael’s story emerged, we’ve had calls from parents across the city seeking help because their child was abused at other schools.

This is a problem that exists in every part of the country: Each year, there are more than 200,000 cases of reported child abuse and neglect in Canada. This number alone is shocking enough. Consider also that the impact of unresolved childhood abuse can be lifelong and cut across generations. This present reality makes us angry. It makes us sad. It must also drive action on improvement, because improved prevention is possible. That number can go down.

We must appreciate that this isn’t just about one school with a problem. In fact, this isn’t just a school problem. The St. Michael’s case has opened a window into the dangers of abuse that face children and youth across Canada in a variety of settings.

With younger children, the safety imperatives can seem more obvious. We regulate things such as car seats and playground equipment. We teach children in our lives to look both ways when crossing the street. We child-proof our homes.

When children become adolescents, they have new experiences that can sometimes present new risks. They spend more unsupervised time with other young people. Various adults can play significant roles in their lives and in reaching goals related to sports or other activities. Adolescents are not always as well prepared for the risks in these new environments because awareness and prevention aren’t discussed as openly as those childhood risks. This must change. Protection of adolescent children is also on our watch – the responsibility belongs to all of us.

Let’s start by losing our complacency and pledging to never permit, mask or make excuses for any type of abuse. Let’s call hazing and initiation what it truly is: a deliberate, often illegal use of power to abuse and degrade another human being. We also need to consider whether the term bullying really captures what is happening when boys and girls are physically or sexually assaulted by older children or youth. When such acts are committed against an adult, we call it sexual assault and call the police. Young people should be made more aware that committing such acts can lead to criminal charges and are, in fact, very damaging to those victimized.

Active, honest communication is vital. Children and youth must know that they will be heard if they tell an adult that they have experienced or seen abuse. There are children who have told our staff about wanting to tell an adult in their life about abuse but feeling there was never the right moment when they would have their full attention and understanding. Everybody has a responsibility to create those moments. Young people must know there is no higher priority than their safety. No other goal – not championships or scholarships – is more important than their well-being.

We need to build a stronger culture of prevention in places where youth spend their time. There should be active and transparent plans, understood by all – school administrators, principals, teachers, coaches, youth and parents – for mitigating the risk of assault and sexual assault.

Children who come forward to report abuse are heroes who open our eyes. We can’t look away. We owe it to them to protect them and other children from harm. All Canadians must join us in taking action, right now, to prevent abuse and build a future in which children and youth grow up in a safe, healthy and nurturing environment.


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