Kerri McGregor

Equestrian Canada Snapshot: Interesting New Changes

Kerri McGregor reviews the changes being made at Canada’s governing body of equestrian sport, which has a new CEO and updated policies.

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By: Kerri McGregor

While the faces continue to change at Equestrian Canada (EC) at the Senior level, both in terms of volunteers and staff, the organization is rolling out the implementation of new programs.

ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER CEO

The new interim CEO Yves Hamelin, father of speedskating Olympians Charles and Francois Hamelin and former Short Track High Performance Director at Speedskating Canada, was officially introduced at the recent EC Convention held in conjunction with the Royal Winter Agricultural Fair in Toronto.
The plan appears to be to have Hamelin lead the organization through the next year of further implementing the EC Board’s “Strategic Initiatives Plan,” at which point a full-time CEO would be in place by late summer/early fall following the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

While finances have always been a topic of discussion for EC, this does seem to be an area of increasing concern.

EC ended their 2017 year with a $503,000 deficit and only managed a $13,903 surplus in 2018. Add to that, the audited March 2019 financial statements show a deficit of $50,000.

So EC was starting their next fiscal year (April 1, 2019) in the red.
Reports made to the EC Board at their September meeting showed at that time that the organization had a deficit of $165,000 with sport licenses (typically one of the largest revenue generators) down roughly $80,000 from the previous year. This dip likely is a reflection on the continuing struggles of the national competition system which has been undergoing a review for the past 16+ years (anyone remember UNCART?).

Also by the end of August, Provincial Territorial Sport Organizations (PTSOs) had only remitted 16% of the $402,000 owed to EC per their partnership agreements.

Another significant revenue stream is government funding through such bodies as Sport Canada, Own the Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee. The recent Olympic qualification achieved by Dressage at the 2019 Pan American Games is good news in terms of Own the Podium funding, however Eventing were unable to achieve the same (there is still a chance through the FEI’s Composite Team system) and Jumping’s qualification is currently up in the air due to the provisional suspension of Nicole Walker.

The ability to field an Olympic team, in addition to the probability of bringing a medal home to Canada, is a significant factor when government monies are allocated to sports. In the years approaching the London 2012 Olympics, EC received just over $6 million in funding (Olympic & Paralympic equestrian sports combined). Leading up to Tokyo, that was slashed to less than $2 million – with roughly half of that designated for ParaEquestrian alone.

DISCIPLINES NO LONGER HAVE PROTECTED FUNDS

What is also noteworthy is that EC has moved away from the long-held practice of Restricted Funds. This structure was to help track the funds & activities/expenses by Disciplines as well as Equine Medications. For example, funds raised by Equine Medication fees were tracked separately and spent on activities directly related to Equine Medications. Now the only truly restricted funds are government monies which are flagged for a specific purpose.

REVISED POLICIES

A number of policies have been amended and approved by the Board including:

  • Code of Conduct & Ethics
  • Discipline Complaints & Appeals
  • Abuse Policy for Individuals
  • Whistleblower

It’s unclear as to what those changes are, as the EC website does not appear to include a copy of the Whistleblower, Abuse or Discipline Complaints & Appeals policies. There is a link to the “Code of Ethics” policy, however, there is no date on either of these documents so it’s unclear as to whether they include the amendments approved by the Board.

It would appear that the Discipline Complaints & Appeals Policy has undergone significant revisions. Earlier this year, EC announced that they had created a new position of “Triage Officer” and contracted the outside services of Brian Ward who handles the intake and management of complaints.

However, it was noted that the ability for competition organizing committees to hold ground juries and hearings to handle certain protests at competitions has been maintained, as it outlined in EC’s Rulebooks. The only exception is where a complaint deals with harassment, abuse or bullying, which must be handled by EC’s Triage Officer.

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