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The Estrie sports community reacts to a bill to protect young athletes

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Checking criminal records becomes mandatory for all organizations. (Archive photo)

Radio-Canada

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The Minister responsible for Sport, Isabelle Charest, tabled a bill to better protect young athletes Tuesday afternoon in the National Assembly. Quebec thus responds to the numerous criticisms formulated, among others, after the scandals in the world of hockey. The Estrie sports community reacted to this announcement.

Checking criminal records thus becomes mandatory for all organizations, whether federated or not.

Previously, verification was not enshrined in law, but rather was part of the policies of sports federations.

Quebec will offer financial compensation to cover part of the costs generated by these audits. $30 million will be invested over 5 years, including $4.5 million that will be reserved for organizations to help them comply with the new obligations.

The general director of Hockey Sherbrooke, Stéphane Dion, specifies that his organization has been checking the criminal records of its 650 volunteers every three years for around ten years now, in collaboration with the Sherbrooke Police Service (SPS). He agrees, however, that for some smaller organizations the task can be daunting.

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In small organizations, sometimes it is more difficult to get the process right. Often there is no local police department. They will deal with the Sûreté du Québec, which is sometimes a slightly more distant police force, with less proximity. These are all challenges that will have to be ironed out, he notes.

Wishful thinking is good, but you always have to remember that behind that, there is an army of volunteers from whom we ask for their time, and we keep them away from the ice, the gymnasium, the arena, the “atrium, baseball field, soccer field to do [administrative work], adds volunteer and physical education teacher François Lemay.

The bill also proposes to appoint a Protector of integrity in leisure and sport. The latter will have the power to trigger investigations and will replace the complaints officer.

Minister Isabelle Charest hopes to facilitate the journey of the alleged victims.

The director of sports programs at École du Triolet believes, however, that the current process worked quite well.

Most sports federations have a “complaint button” on their website. People could, if they were not satisfied with a situation, simply click on this button and file a complaint with a local agent. If they were not satisfied, or if the local representative thought it was too important, we could go to the provincial complaints officer. Certain situations go there.

A quote from Jean-Benoît Jubinville, assistant director of the sports-studies program at Triolet secondary school

The protector who will replace the officer, for us, it is an additional measure, he adds.

According to Minister Charest, the current law refers more to bodily harm to athletes. She believes that in the future, we will be able to better protect the safety of people as a whole.

With the information by Marie-Hélène Rousseau

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