No matter the industry or sector, best practices in the complaint management process involve the reporting of complaints or incidents to someone who is independent and has no vested interest in protecting the concerned entity or its leaders. An independent third-party reporting mechanism is therefore highly recommended in sport organizations, to ensure complaints are handled in an unbiased manner and are given all the attention they deserve. 

From June 2018, following a ministerial public announcement to be effective immediately, federally-funded sport organizations shall take all necessary measures to create a workplace free from harassment, abuse or discrimination of any kind. This included making provisions, within their governance framework, for access to an independent third party to address harassment and abuse cases.

Concerned sport organizations were thereby mandated to designate an independent person or service to serve as the very first point of contact for an eventual complainant. This role has been labelled differently by some organizations, with many of them adopting the term “safe sport officer” or “complaint officer’.

Further to such announcement, the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) collaborated with Sport Canada to develop a document outlining the expected role of this independent third party, as well as the general profile sought. As it later became necessary to clarify the concept of independence for such service, a “declaration of independence” was developed by the SDRCC and a directive was issued by Sport Canada asking federally-funded sport organizations to be able to provide such a declaration on demand.

The complete version of the document can be downloaded here

The Canadian Sport Helpline operators have access to a list, graciously provided by Sport Canada, of the names and contact information of the independent third parties designated by all federally-funded sport organizations. If this information is not readily available on your national sport organization’s website, you may contact the Canadian Sport Helpline to obtain it.