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Team Canada jersey during team practice for the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Vancouver, 2018.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

One day before its leaders were due to face heated questions from a parliamentary committee about a sexual-assault claim that laid bare a troubling corporate culture, Hockey Canada, the sport’s national governing body, released a plan that it said “marks an important step forward” in reforming the game.

The 19-page action plan, published online on Monday, outlines a series of measures intended to prevent future abuses. They include an independent review of Hockey Canada’s governance, the publication of an annual scorecard measuring progress in key areas, the creation of an independent and confidential complaint mechanism for those who believe they have been mistreated or abused, increased emphasis on education and training, and what the organization calls “enhanced character screening” for athletes on track to participate in its high-performance stream.

The document is subtitled “Shatter the Code of Silence and Eliminate Toxic Behaviour In and Around Canada’s Game.” The organization did not respond by deadline to questions from The Globe and Mail about the plan.

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On Tuesday, Hockey Canada will face a second round of hearings convened by the House of Commons standing committee on Canadian heritage, which is probing the organization’s response to allegations that eight Canadian Hockey League players assaulted a young woman in June, 2018, after attending a Hockey Canada Foundation charity fundraiser in London, Ont.

Last week, Hockey Canada said it had notified police about another sexual-assault allegation, involving another half dozen players, related to an incident in Halifax in 2003.

The organization’s plan was immediately dismissed by a member of the committee. Peter Julian, an NDP MP, said it “isn’t going to cut it,” and added that, in order to restore some confidence, Hockey Canada must be transparent and accountable in this week’s hearings.

“It seems to be that they’re in an exercise of damage control, rather than actually putting into place all the tools that are needed to ensure that there are no further victims,” he said.

The organization’s lack of transparency during the first round of hearings, in June, troubled parliamentarians. Last week, the Liberal chair of the committee, Hedy Fry, told The Globe that MPs would use “all the parliamentary privilege that we have” to compel witnesses and extract information from Hockey Canada executives.

In a statement posted to Twitter on Monday afternoon by the Canadian National Women’s Hockey Team – their first pronouncement since the allegations surfaced in May – players called for a wholesale reckoning over the scandal and the resulting revelations.

“We are writing to you today to declare, first and above all else, that we intend to be part of the fight for the truth. All of the facts related to this terrible situation must – and will – come to light. After all, the only way to treat an injury is to acknowledge it fully.”

“We join all Canadians in demanding a thorough and transparent investigation of the incidents in question as well as the structure, governance and environment that exists within the organization. Once the whole truth is out, Hockey Canada and its elected Board must ensure that all steps are taken and appropriate measures are put in place to ensure that this kind of behavior is never again accepted, and never repeated.”

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The statement said the players were “encouraged by the Action Plan,” but cautioned that it was only, as Hockey Canada has acknowledged, “a step towards addressing toxic behaviours.”

“There is much more work and action needed to fully address the underlying issues in order to ensure that a new Hockey Canada emerges from this crisis,” the team wrote.

Brock McGillis, an LGBTQ advocate who was the first openly gay professional men’s hockey player, and who has pushed for change within Hockey Canada, called the plan surface-level.

“If you’re going to release something the day before you’re going into massive hearings, it feels very reactionary,” he said.

He said the plan doesn’t specify who will be responsible for what, and can’t properly be assessed.

“There’s no substance or depth here. If this was a deeply thought out, creative plan, we’d know ‘who’ and we’d know ‘how’ – not just ‘what.’”

Mr. McGillis questioned the plan’s call for Hockey Canada to implement a reporting and tracking system to capture instances of maltreatment, saying it’s not clear how people will feel safe enough to share issues.

“I know so many instances where kids have gone to different boards about maltreatment and it has impacted their hockey careers,” he said. “Parents and kids are afraid to go to boards, because they’re spending upwards of $20,000 to $30,000 a year for their kid to play AAA minor hockey.”

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In the plan, Hockey Canada says it has worked with the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region and Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse to implement “a broader range of mandatory training for all athletes, team staff and Hockey Canada staff who will be participating in programs beginning in the summer of 2022,″ including next month’s world junior tournament in Edmonton.

Some of the issues the training will cover include: masculinity and moving away from outdated stereotypes; language, and how it can cause harm; how behaviour such as anti-women jokes and the sharing of nude pictures can “form a continuum up to sexual assault”; the legal definition of consent “and how to talk about and seek consent”; building healthy relationships; and coercive behaviours and how to confront them.

The training will also cover “being a bystander, and how to encourage the behaviour of others to take ownership of sexual violence as a problem and speak up when they witness potentially dangerous situations or sexist language.”

Taylor McKee, an assistant professor of sport management at Brock University who studies Canadian hockey culture, said that while the action plan’s introduction of measures to prevent future abuses is a positive step, it doesn’t deal with what has already taken place.

“We do need to adjudicate what’s gone on in the past,” he said. “My concern is that I don’t want the looking-forward to change the narrative away from figuring out what happened.”

Mr. McKee also said that, while a lot of discussions are taking place around hockey culture, “the greatest changer of culture” is holding people accountable, “not a Zoom call, not a seminar, not some diversity training.”

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