May 29th, 2023

“When will the Minister do his job?” NDP demands investigation into minor league hockey cash-for-access culture following new allegations

QUEEN’S PARK – MPP Jennie Stevens (St. Catharines), NDP critic for Tourism and Sport, took Minister of Tourism, Culture & Sport Neil Lumsden (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek) to task in Question Period for ignoring new information that has come to light about alleged corruption and cash-for-access culture in the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL).

“Several weeks ago, a whistleblower wrote to both my office and the Minister’s office with new evidence that suggests widespread corruption is happening at every level of youth hockey in the GTHL – not just AAA as previously reported,” said Stevens. “My office has been working alongside him to get to the bottom of these allegations and help push forward an investigation that could shed some light on the situation once and for all. But from the Minister? Not a word.”.

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport regulates provincial sports organizations, including the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF). As a member of the OHF, the GTHL is subject to reviews by the Ministry to verify good operations. It is well within their jurisdiction to launch an investigation.

The Ontario NDP first called for an independent investigation of the GTHL in April, after reporting revealed that wealthy buyers were being coached on how to buy non-profit youth hockey teams for exorbitant sums. Those owners could influence the line-ups and future careers of the young players dreaming of making the National Hockey League (NHL).

New allegations suggest that this cash-for-access culture exists across other levels as well.

“The puck is supposed to stop with Minister Lumsden”, said Stevens. “He has the authority to launch an independent investigation to ensure that youth hockey is fair to all kids who have the talent – not just those with wealthy parents. I am committed to ensuring that all kids who have the talent and heart can achieve their dreams playing a sport we all love.”