Hockey Canada's access to public funds has been frozen ©Getty Images

Crisis-hit Hockey Canada has released an action plan designed to combat "toxic behavior" and a "code of silence" within the sport, which have come under scrutiny along with how the organisation has handled complaints of sexual assault.

Police in Canada are investigating two separate allegations of group sexual assault levied against players from the junior national teams several years apart, while Hockey Canada officials are set to be grilled by politicians tomorrow.

The six-pillar action plan includes promises to set up an independent mechanism for reporting wrongdoing, a tracking system to monitor instances of maltreatment, abuse or harassment, enhanced training and a policy that would force individuals to take part in any investigation.

A Special Committee on Action Plan Implementation is due to be appointed to monitor the action plan's delivery.

Hockey Canada has had its access to public funds frozen by the Canadian Government amid public outcry over its response to sexual violence allegedly carried out by some of its players.

Earlier this year it became known that Hockey Canada had reached a settlement with a woman who claimed to have been assaulted by players on the title-winning 2018 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship side.

Police in Ontario have reopened a criminal investigation, while law enforcement in Halifax last week launched a criminal investigation into allegations relating to the men's junior national team from 2003.

The action plan is constructed with six pillars ©Hockey Canada
The action plan is constructed with six pillars ©Hockey Canada

Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge has slammed how a "culture of silence and the trivialisation of sexual violence is well entrenched in the culture of this sport", while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there needed to be a "real reckoning" at Hockey Canada.

The embattled organisation will hope this action plan goes some way to restoring trust, having already announced a full governance review and committed to becoming a full signatory to the new Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner.

"We know we need to do more to address the behaviours that conflict with what Canadians want hockey to be, and which undermine the many good things that the game brings to our country", an introduction to the action plan reads, adding "we aim to do just that".

"Our message to all Canadians is that we are committed to taking the hard actions and making the changes necessary to enable us to be the organization you expect us to be, and to restore your confidence and trust in us", it continues. 

"Culture change will not occur overnight, but we believe this plan marks an important step forward."

The first three pillars cover accountability, governance and independent structures for safe sport.

The new complaints process will see any complaint directed to an independent third party, the action plan outlines.

Ice hockey is Canada's national winter sport and Hockey Canada by extension one of the nation's most important sporting bodies ©Getty Images
Ice hockey is Canada's national winter sport and Hockey Canada by extension one of the nation's most important sporting bodies ©Getty Images

The third party will screen complaints, impose interim measures if it sees fit, and then, if the complaint is accepted, make the selections of a mediator, investigator and discipline panel.

The discipline panel will then make punishment decisions, with it up to the panel whether or not the outcome should be made public.

Education and training, policy and expectations, plus aligning the organisation internally are the other three pillars of the action plan.

Among education pledges, Hockey Canada says all high-performance athletes, coaches and team staff, plus all Hockey Canada staff and the Board of Directors, will have to complete the Coaching Association of Canada’s Safe Sport Training Module.

It will mandate training on an enhanced Hockey Canada Code of Conduct - currently players and participants are asked simply to read it - and the action plan also vows that the national governing body will broaden the scope of its training on off-ice issues. 

Topics such as moving away from outdated stereotypes of masculinity, coercive behavior, language choices, consent and how not to be a bystander to sexual violence will all be covered.