NDP Bill to protect youth athletes in Manitoba hits resistance

A private member’s resolution brought forward by the Manitoba NDP to help protect students and youth involved in sports hit resistance in the Manitoba legislature.

The bill, created by MLAs Adrien Sala and Jamie Moses, was introduced Thursday morning, but according to the MLAs, the government blocked the resolution.

“Unfortunately today, the government talked out the resolutions and ultimately did not support it,” Sala said.

The resolution covered a wide range of topics, saying current policies don’t protect youth athletes enough. It included a call to create new rules to prevent coaches and teachers from having students and players at their homes.

The resolution is in relation to the sexual assault allegations brought forward against Winnipeg high school football coach Kelsey Alberta Dana McKay. Winnipeg police said most of the alleged incidents happened in McKay’s home.

Geordie Wilson, head coach of the Winnipeg Rifles football team, worked on the resolution with the NDP, saying it was a way to get the parties talking and improve safety for youth athletes.

“The fact that the PCs decided not to keep talking to make things better, that means everything is good,” Wilson said. “If everything is good, then why did those kids at Vincent Massey (Collegiate) get assaulted?”

Manitoba’s Sports Minister Andrew Smith said the “Pathway to Safer Sport” strategy revealed on Wednesday helps address the issues and includes new resources for players and organizations.

Education Minister Wayne Ewasko said the resolution and discussion were too limited in scope.

“Our kids, our youth, deserve far more than a one-hour debate to move forward to making sure we have safety measures in place,” he said.

The province added that many coaches are the parents of players, and said barring athletes from a coach’s home wouldn’t be practical.

Sala and Moses said they will keep trying to get the resolution passed.

TEXT OF BILL

The text of the private member’s resolution brought forward by the NDP can be read below:

Calling on the Provincial Government to Develop Better Policies to Protect Youth in Sports

MOVED BY: Mr. Moses

14. WHEREAS a Winnipeg high school coach/teacher was recently charged with sexually assaulting and exploiting five former students between 2004 and 2011 at two separate high schools; and

WHEREAS this revelation revealed that current policies regarding student and coach interactions fails to adequately protect youth in sports; and

WHEREAS policies such as coaches and teachers being allowed to have youth at their homes puts youth at risk; and

WHEREAS the majority of these assaults happened at the coach’s home behind closed doors; and

WHEREAS the coach was able to continue working as a high school teacher until these revelations were announced over ten years later; and

WHEREAS sexual abuse has an adverse impact on youth that can last for a lifetime; and

WHEREAS sexual abuse survivors face stigma in coming forward and are often blamed for being victims; and

WHEREAS children aren’t adequately notified of supports available to them in the case of sexual assault; and

WHEREAS support services such as a dedicated text/phone line for athletes to report instances of sexual assault aren’t currently in place; and

WHEREAS the Provincial Government has the legislative ability to develop better policies to protect youth.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba urge the Provincial Government to develop better policies to protect youth in sports from potential abuse such as preventing coaches/teachers from having players/students at their homes and by implementing services such as a dedicated text/phone line for athletes to report instances of sexual assault.

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