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We Grow Individuals and Communities through Hockey

Cambridge, Ontario – The Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) is one of the oldest hockey associations in the world and traces its formal start in hockey to 1890. Today, the OHA is a proud member of Hockey Canada through the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF) family. The OHA is entrusted with oversight over junior and senior hockey under the auspices of the OHF.

Hockey in Canada is part of the national fabric. The OHA plays an integral role in Canada’s national game from an Ontario perspective, where it continues to strive for ways and means to bring the game to higher levels of success and by doing so in a way that promotes diversity and inclusiveness. The OHA understands that there must be a focus on the grassroots of the game to ensure that hockey remains a vital part of our national fabric. We have confidence in the knowledge that players in Ontario have access to all of the development resources they will require to flourish in their junior hockey years.

The OHA was saddened to learn recently that the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) has decided to leave the Hockey Canada family and to become a non-sanctioned program. The administration of hockey across a country the size of Canada can be complex at times and the decision of the BCHL is a disappointing and unfortunate manifestation of that reality. As a longstanding “Member” of the Hockey Canada family, it is important for the OHA to ensure that players, parents, coaches, administrators, and all other stakeholders within the OHA footprint are equipped to understand clearly what it means to be a “Member”, recognizing that Membership within Hockey Canada, the OHF and the OHA is not a right but rather a privilege. The OHA remains steadfast in that view.

OHA team organizations that fall under its jurisdiction are eligible to compete against other similarly situated and sanctioned teams through Hockey Canada. At the national level, OHA team organizations can participate against similarly situated team organizations for, where applicable, regional and national championships. Non-sanctioned teams and leagues in Canada, such as the BCHL, are not eligible to compete against sanctioned Hockey Canada programs. This extends to teams or leagues not sanctioned by USA Hockey.

Hockey Canada has confirmed that any player or coach on a non-sanctioned hockey team after September 30 is ineligible to participate in hockey activities sanctioned by Hockey Canada for the remainder of the season, pending a hearing from the reinstatement committee, even if they are released by their non-sanctioned team at any point during the season (attached are some recent memos from Hockey Canada and BC Hockey that help to explain the implications associated with decisions to pursue non-sanctioned play and provide some added context relative to the BCHL). This extends to players and coaches who have played in or are otherwise eligible to play within the OHA.

The ineligibility rule noted above extends to national teams or the opportunity to attend and otherwise participate in other Hockey Canada high performance activities. For greater certainty, players and coaches who pursue opportunities outside Hockey Canada will be deemed ineligible to participate in

all such activities. In addition, only athletes registered with a team sanctioned by Hockey Canada are eligible to be “Affiliate Players” for sanctioned junior hockey teams.

It is important to note that only trained and certified officials within the Hockey Canada Officiating Pathway are eligible to officiate Hockey Canada-sanctioned games in order to ensure that the Playing Rules are applied consistently for the safety of all participants. Hockey Canada has also confirmed that participants in hockey activities that are not sanctioned by Hockey Canada are not able to submit complaints of abuse, harassment, or maltreatment to the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC) or Hockey Canada’s Independent Third Party (ITP). Any complaint of abuse, harassment or maltreatment in non-sanctioned hockey would be addressed at the sole and absolute discretion of the organization operating the program.

Each year, all Members within the OHA provide effective education, certification, and registration through national and provincial systems for hundreds of coaches in sanctioned hockey, including courses through the Respect in Sport module and coach screening through a criminal record check and vulnerable sector check. Ultimately, Hockey Canada and its Members, including the OHF and the OHA, ensure that participants of all ages and abilities can enjoy playing hockey safely in communities across Ontario.

The OHA model for delivering hockey programming and development is oriented entirely around the benefit and safety of players, coaches, officials, parents, administrators, and volunteers. While others remain free to enjoy the game outside of sanctioned programs within Hockey Canada, those who opt for participation in non-sanctioned play should do so with a full and complete understanding. This extends to the insurance programs that being a member of Hockey Canada provides.

As noted above, being part of the Hockey Canada family is a privilege rather than a right. The OHA is a proud part of that family and continues to work hard within that structure to promote change that is in the best interests of the game.

To learn more about Hockey Canada-sanctioned programs click here

To learn more about the BCHL’s withdrawal from hockey Canada membership click here

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to the OHA through its Executive Director David Leger. He can be reached at 519-622-2402 ext. 102 or via email at [email protected]


Marc Mercier, Chair

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