Hockey Canada: What can we do?

Hockey Canada: What can we do?

Another summer, another Canadian non-profit before a Parliamentary Committee. This time let there be real change in Canada’s non-profit sector.

Minister of Sport, Pascale St. Onge, says that Hockey Canada has an obligation to be transparent to people who give it money.

You would think so. But actually, it doesn’t. Not under the existing rules. No Canadian charity or non-profit is required to be transparent, to open its books, to share its financial information. And these rules must change.

Now is a watershed moment that highlights how critical transparency is. There are shocking consequences when Canada’s charities, non-profits and sports organizations are allowed to operate with closed books.

This is a unique Canadian problem we’ve been squawking about since 2007. Canada is far behind. In the UK, US, Australia and other countries audited financial statements are mandatory. The audited financial statements are publicly posted on the regulator’s website.

Canada’s lack of transparency erodes public trust. Without open books, the public doesn’t know about slush funds, legal actions, executive bonuses, what membership fees pay for, etc.

Minister St. Onge, you call for action. Please show leadership. You are more than a funder. You have unique powers not available to corporate sponsors, donors, and the 600,000 Canadians who pay registration fees. You are the Minister. Be the agent of change. Now is the time to change the rules.

Right now, require all RCAAAs with revenues over $1 million:

  1. to have audited financial statements
  2. to publicly post these financial statements on CRA Charities Directorate's website or Sports Canada’s website.

Please no lengthy “consultation with the sector”. The public wants leadership and transparency. Canadians are asking you to make permanent changes.

For the love of hockey, for our love of sports, just do it.


You may also like: 

Cromwell's Final Report: 39 Recommendations for Better Governance November 8, 2022

Charity Intelligence's report on Cromwell's investigation Part 1 October 14

Hockey Canada's Audited Financial Statements 2021-2014 courtesy of journalists filing Access to Information requests


Check Hockey Canada's non-profit privilege

Dear Minister, you do not have the power to change the management or directors of a Canadian non-profit or charity. This would be overreach and set a nasty precedent.

But you do have other powers. You can suspend a sports organization’s non-profit status.


You could also review whether Hockey Canada is in contempt of Parliament. Two days now before the Heritage Committee and questions remain unanswered, and Hockey Canada delays in submitting the requested documents. This is an abuse of government time and a waste of public money. It is a disgrace that a Canadian non-profit would show such disrespect to elected members.


Contempt of Parliament?

Watch these exchanges between Hockey Canada’s current leadership before the Heritage Committee on July 27, 2022. Review whether their behaviour offends the dignity of the Committee. Hockey Canada has not submitted documents requested in June, it fails to publicly disclose its data on abuse complaints, and it evades committee member questions.

Non-profits should face serious penalties for such behaviour.

Here are three examples from Hockey Canada's July 27, 2022 testimony before the Heritage Committee's investigation:

1. Board minutes not yet provided.

The Heritage Committee asked for Hockey Canada’s board minutes. As of July 27, Hockey Canada has not given its board minutes for its 2022 meetings. This delay is disrespectful to our Parliament’s investigation.


2. Abuse tracking results withheld

Hockey Canada created a database to track on-ice abuse allegations for the 2021-2022 hockey season. It shared this information with its members at its June annual meeting. Yet it has the arrogance to tell the Heritage Committee to wait until November for these results.


3. Range of bonuses paid out unavailable

The Heritage Committee asked Hockey Canada for the range of bonuses paid. Hockey Canada’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer will get back to Parliament with this information to provide an exact range rather than publicly reveal bonuses paid.


 Journalist Katie Strang knew this information and Tweeted:


Ask yourself, is this how a non-profit organization should behave before our Parliament?

Canadian non-profit organizations are public organizations that provide a public benefit. In exchange, non-profits are given special status and are permitted to operate tax free.

It is not a right to be a non-profit organization, it is a privilege.

Minister St. Onge, Hockey Canada’s privileges need to be checked.


Charity Intelligence's calls for better transparency:

Charity Intelligence's submission on transparency "Donors need better access", Bill C-58, August 2021

Transparency matters, March 2019

Sorry David: Why audited financial statements still matter in analysing charities, August 2018

Toronto Star editorial, "Charity sector needs transparency", November 2011

Correction: This article previously stated "Under an Access to Information request, Mark Blumberg got these financial statements (click here to see) for Hockey Canada. These are incomplete. They are only a few pages. Please check the filings. If this is what Hockey Canada filed, under the Income Tax Act you can suspend Hockey Canada’s non-profit status for failure to meet regulatory filings."

Hockey Canada's filings are complete. These full filings were not provided in the request for information. Perhaps another reason why charities, RCAAA, and non profit organizations' full financial statements should be publicly posted by the Charities Directorate so information requests. 

Ammended October 6, 2022 by Kate Bahen


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