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Quebec bill aims to better protect young athletes from abuse, harassment

Quebec’s sports minister has tabled a bill to strengthen protections for young athletes and create a new role to investigate complaints.

Isabelle Charest says Bill 45 would create a recreation and sport integrity ombudsperson to receive abuse and harassment complaints, launch investigations on their own and make recommendations.

The bill, which amends an existing law on safety in sports, guarantees protections for complainants and removes a 120-day limit to file a complaint.

Charest says the ombudsperson role will replace the office of the independent complaints officer, set up three years ago to deal with abuse cases.

The bill would also tighten police background checks for anyone working with minors or who is in regular contact with them.

A recent report from the Education Department identified problems with the criminal background verification process.

In a social media post, Premier François Legault said that volunteers — coaches, referees and other professionals — should be applauded for their work in youth sport. But he added that the government wants additional tools to protect young people from a “few bad apples.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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