Tim Hortons joined Scotiabank, Canadian Tire and Telus in withholding sponsorship support from Hockey Canada in the wake of the fallout from a sexual assault lawsuit settled by the national governing body last month.
That lawsuit, filed by a young woman in April, alleged that she was sexually assaulted by eight hockey players in a London, Ontario hotel room in June 2018 following a Hockey Canada Foundation golf and gala event.
News of Hockey Canada's out-of-court settlement has sparked outcry and governmental scrutiny, with the Standing Committee on National Heritage holding a hearing last week with Hockey Canada officials to probe their handling of the matter.
Tim Hortons is suspending support for the upcoming men's World Junior Championships as it waits for Hockey Canada to release details about how it intends to change "the culture of hockey to make it safer and more inclusive for all, on and off the ice," it said in a statement Wednesday. Tim Hortons will re-evaluate its sponsorship agreement once it has that information.
In an open letter to Hockey Canada and Canadians on Tuesday, Scotiabank President and CEO Brian J. Porter said the company was pausing its Hockey Canada sponsorship "until we are confident the right steps are being taken to improve the culture within the sport – both on and off the ice."
Canadian Tire Corporation told The Athletic later on Tuesday that it will immediately withdraw its sponsorship support for the upcoming men’s world juniors, and is "re-evaluating" its relationship with Hockey Canada.
On Wednesday, Telus said in a statement that it was pausing its sponsorship with Hockey Canada and the upcoming men's junior tournament, but it will continue to support upcoming women’s events and grassroots initiatives dedicated to supporting youth in hockey.
"We are deeply disappointed in Hockey Canada’s lack of transparency and accountability around the assault allegations," Canadian Tire said in a statement. "We are calling on Hockey Canada to do better and live up to their commitment to change the systemic culture of silence in our nation’s sport, and push to make it more inclusive and safe for all."
Porter adds Scotiabank is "expecting Hockey Canada to fully cooperate with the Federal Government’s audit" to ensure its sponsorship funding "was used as intended."
As part of this paused sponsorship, Scotiabank is "canceling marketing and events at the upcoming World Junior Championship in August, and redirecting our sponsorship investment planned for the World Juniors to other programs, including the Hockey Canada Assist Fund, which is successfully helping to eliminate financial barriers to hockey for young people, and the Women’s World Championship."
According to Porter, Scotiabank will also be "making a donation to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, a charity that supports women who are the victims of gender-based violence."
"We are appalled by the recent reports of assault involving members of the 2018 World Junior Championship team," Telus said in the statement. The company plans to redirect funds to Canadian organizations that support women affected by sexual violence.
Last week, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage approved a motion for an independent investigation into how Hockey Canada handled the sexual assault allegations. Minister of Sport Pascal St-Onge also announced that the federal government was freezing funds until Hockey Canada meets multiple conditions, including signing on to a federal agency tasked with independently investing abuse claims, according to TSN.
Hockey Canada must also share the recommendations made by the law firm Henein Hutchison, hired by the organization to investigate the sexual assault allegations.