Majority of Canadians say sexual misconduct is a big issue in youth hockey: survey
Amid revelations about how Hockey Canada handled past claims of sexual assault, a new poll has found that the majority of Canadians believe sexual misconduct is still a major problem in youth hockey.
According to the poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute, of the 2,279 Canadian adults surveyed, 58 per cent recognize sexual harassment and sexual assault as a major issue in youth hockey. Seventeen per cent of the respondents said they view the problem as a minor one. More than half (56 per cent) of respondents with current or past ties to youth hockey agree that sexual misconduct is a grave issue. Women of all ages are more likely to agree with that statement in comparison to the men surveyed.
The new survey comes as an independent review is being conducted over Hockey Canada’s governance after a settlement was reached over the allegations of a group sexual assault involving eight players on the 2018 world juniors team.
It was also recently revealed that Hockey Canada’s “National Equity Fund" was used to cover uninsured liabilities, including sexual misconduct claims. While the organization announced a plan to address “systemic issues” within the sport, only 27 per cent of those surveyed by Angus Reid believe the sport’s environment will improve for women.
Respect within the sport is considered fundamental by the majority of surveyed Canadians with ties to the game including coaches, players and referees. However, the poll found women of all ages are more likely to disagree that respect is a big part of hockey culture. Men between the ages of 18 and 34 say there is little or no problem of a lack of respect.
Where the surveyed men and women do agree, however, is the shift towards actual change after the recent allegations made against Hockey Canada. Among the women surveyed, 62 per cent say they don’t believe a new “action plan” announced by Hockey Canada will improve the issue within the sport; 53 per cent of men also agreed.
HOPE FOR CHANGE
Most surveyed Canadians support the federal government’s decision to freeze Hockey Canada’s funding, which has led to several of its major sponsorship deals being pulled. The poll found that four in five Canadians support the government’s decision, while one in five of those with closer ties to the sport disagree.
Nonetheless, 58 per cent of respondents are not confident in a shift within hockey culture, in comparison to 27 per cent who are. Additionally, three in five surveyed women said they have little or no confidence for a change in the treatment of women and girls.
A separate survey conducted by Nanos Research also found support for the funding freeze from a majority of Canadians.
As the independent review into Hockey Canada continues, board chairman Michael Brind'Amour announced his resignation in a move some see as a step in the right direction for the sport.
The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey of 2,279 Canadian adults from Aug. 8-10. It says a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
With files from The Canadian Press.