Sport Environment Assessments FAQ
Addressing and Preventing systemic issues – Where do Sport Environment Assessments Fit?
Sport Environment Assessments serve a dual function in both addressing and preventing maltreatment, discrimination and other prohibited behaviour related to the UCCMS. These Assessments are designed to identify and remedy alleged systemic issues with the goal of improving the sport environment for both current and future participants.
Is a Sport Environment Assessment the same as a cultural workplace assessment?
The OSIC's mandate pertains to maltreatment, discrimination, and other forms of prohibited behaviour, and that the Sport Environment Assessment process is related to this context. While culture is one element that both underlies and emerges from systemic patterns of maltreatment, it is abuse and discrimination that are at the core of a Sport Environment Assessment.
Can the OSIC initiate a public inquiry or another form of judicial inquiry?
The OSIC does not have inherent authority to initiate a Commission of Inquiry or a judicial inquiry.
Per its mandate, the OSIC has the authority to independently address systemic issues related to maltreatment, discrimination and other prohibited behaviour under the UCCMS. This role is fulfilled primarily through the Sport Environment Assessment process performed in accordance with the OSIC Guidelines regarding Sport Environment Assessments.
Assessments are meant to look for the truth, seek to understand the problem and its root causes, and then look at possible solutions, all of which are ultimately presented in a published report. From this perspective, Assessments may share similar desired outcomes to other processes, such as inquiries or investigations.
That said, Sport Environment Assessments include the following specificities that may not necessarily apply to other processes that not under the OSIC’s purview. Assessments are:
- Initiated by OSIC under its mandate, in accordance with the OSIC Guidelines regarding Sport Environment Assessments.
- Specific to the designated sport environment, while also intending to identify systemic root causes, risk factors and solutions that could benefit other similar environments and in certain cases, the sport system more broadly
- Cooperation can be strongly encouraged and incentivized, but cannot currently be mandated by subpoena
- Participation by individual witnesses is anonymous in accordance with section 8 of the OSIC Guidelines regarding Sport Environment Assessments.
What is the difference between an Investigation and an Assessment?
An Investigation, as defined under the relevant OSIC Policies and Procedures, means the Investigation of a Complaint regarding the conduct of one or more individual participants, and is initiated by the OSIC under its Complaint Management process.
The OSIC administers the UCCMS by way of two distinct processes: Complaint Management and Sport Environment Assessments. Both processes share the same overarching objective of responding to alleged issues relating to the UCCMS and are meant to be complementary to one another. While distinct, a systemic issue uncovered in the context of a Complaint and/or Investigation under the OSIC Complaint Management process may give rise to a Request under the Sport Environment Assessment process. On the other hand, allegations made in the context of a Sport Environment Assessment, if formulated against a respondent who is under the authority of an OSIC Program Signatory, may give rise to a Complaint being initiated under the Complaint Management process (and therefore, if applicable, an Investigation). The OSIC aims to streamline interactions between these two processes for situations that involve both individual and systemic issues.
You can find a comparison table between the Complaint Management and Sport Environment Assessment processes here.
Can Sport Environment Assessments address systemic issues across the entire sport system?
Each Assessment is primarily designed to address the specific needs and concerns identified in the sport environment that is subject to the Assessment.
That said, each Assessment is meant to also identify applicable root causes and/or risk factors pertaining to the identified issues, as well as other preventative and/or remedial recommendations for implementation. As such, an Assessment into one particular environment could benefit other similar sport environments and in certain cases, the sport system more broadly.
Assessments will further inform prevention and education initiatives of the OSIC and the Abuse-Free Sport program, which are meant to support advancement of safe, welcoming and inclusive sport experiences.
Who can request an Assessment?
Assessments can be requested by individuals or sport organizations; moreover, the OSIC can launch its own if it becomes aware of alleged systemic issues. You can find more information regarding how to request an Assessment here.
Do sport organizations need to be Program Signatories for an Assessment to be initiated by OSIC?
Requests may be made/initiated in relation to sport organization(s) regardless of whether they are Program Signatories. The Signatory status of the relevant Sport Organization will, however, be one factor among many considered by the OSIC in determining whether to proceed with an Assessment. Examples of the relevant considerations to be addressed by the OSIC are included at section 5c of the OSIC Guidelines regarding Sport Environment Assessments.
The OSIC can require full cooperation from Program Signatories as part of an Assessment initiated by the OSIC, in accordance with OSIC Guidelines regarding Sport Environment Assessments. While cooperation is encouraged for any sport organizations impacted by an Assessment, participation cannot currently be compelled by the OSIC and therefore remains voluntary in the context of non-Program Signatories.
What are the various steps of an Assessment?
The different phases and steps that comprise the Sport Environment Assessment process are defined in the OSIC Guidelines regarding Sport Environment Assessments. Some of the key steps of this process can be summarized as follows:
- The OSIC performs an initial review and if accepted, launches an Assessment.
- The scope of the Assessment is carefully defined and the independent Assessor/Assessment team is selected.
- Identified participants in that sport environment have the opportunity to share their concerns and comments.
- The reviews are summarized in a public report that highlight observations around identified issues, root causes, and risk factors, and makes recommendations to remedy systemic issues.
- The OSIC later verify that those recommendations are actually implemented and necessary change effected in a timely manner.
For more information about the Assessment process and for a flowchart outlining the key process phases please consult the Sport Environment Assessment Process Overview.
Does the OSIC have subpoena power to compel sports authorities to participate and produce relevant documents?
The OSIC does not currently have power to subpoena, meaning the authority under relevant legislation to require individuals to attend as a witness, to produce documents or other articles, or to testify before the OSIC.
Under its current authority, the OSIC can require full cooperation from Program Signatories as part of an Assessment initiated by the OSIC in accordance with OSIC Guidelines regarding Sport Environment Assessments. Such required cooperation would include, without limitation, giving timely access to all relevant information and to the designated individuals and environment(s) of the Program Signatory.
In addition, full cooperation is encouraged for all sport organizations impacted by an Assessment, as any failure to cooperate would be expressly noted in a published Assessment Report.
Can the OSIC impose sanctions and how does it enforce its recommendations?
To answer this question, it is important to distinguish the objective and potential outcome between the two main OSIC processes: Complaint Management and Sport Environment Assessment.
Under the Complaint Management process, the OSIC makes recommendations to the Director of Sanctions and Outcomes (DSO), who has full authority to impose directly enforceable provisional measures and sanctions against individual Participants who are alleged or are found to have violated the UCCMS.
The range of sanctions that can be imposed are outlined at section 7 of the UCCMS. Imposed sanctions are directly enforceable against the applicable Participants and must be implemented by all Program Signatories.
Under the Sport Environment Assessment process, if potential UCCMS violations are uncovered by individual participants, those may be pursued under the Complaint Management process and may result in sanctions being imposed, as described above.
Otherwise, under the Sport Environment Assessment process, the OSIC does not have inherent authority to enforce recommendations made to sport organizations as part of a published Assessment Report, but uses a public reporting mechanism that includes a number of follow-ups and the publication of an implementation report one year later.
This follow-up process and implementation report provides a means for others, including funding partners, to hold the organization accountable in terms of its actual implementation of the Assessment recommendations.
In addition to the above follow-up process, Program Signatories may be subject to further requirements and/or measures undertaken through the OSIC, such as audits, compliance checks, and educational obligations, which may relate to implementation of Assessment recommendations.
How long can it take to complete an Assessment?
The length of an Assessment is first estimated during the Scoping phase of that Assessment and may be further adjusted in subsequent phases of the process, based on the specific needs and circumstances of the situation.
A number of considerations may impact the timeline of an Assessment, including, for example, the complexity and extent of the Scope, the number of participants, the methodology(ies) required to address the relevant issues and, importantly, the timing considerations of those directly impacted by the situation.
Has the OSIC initiated any Sport Environment Assessments since it began offering this service on September 15th, 2022?
The OSIC is not able to comment on any specific situation, matter, or sport environment, considering the specific nature of its mandate. That said, the OSIC has performed admissibility reviews for a number of environments and is continuing its work in this regard.
Once relevant Assessments progress to the Scoping phase, basic information regarding the ongoing status of those Assessments will be published on the OSIC website here.