Open Letter to Premier Ford and Minister Tibollo

Press Release

November 6, 2018

Honourable Doug Ford

Premier of Ontario

Legislative Building,

Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON

M7A 1A1

 

Honourable Michael Tibollo

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport

Hearst Block 9th Flr.,

900 Bay St, Toronto, ON

M7A 2E1

Dear Premier Ford and Minister Tibollo,

The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) is a proud member of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) which is the world’s largest development hockey league and the number one development league for U SPORTS, Canada’s national amateur teams and the NHL. Our system of development is admired and imitated by foreign hockey organizations around the world. Almost all Canadian hockey legends are graduates of the CHL.  Founded in 1934, the OHL is comprised of 20 teams, 17 in Ontario, two in Michigan and one in Pennsylvania. There are currently 425 players in the OHL. The OHL’s role in the community is unquestionable, both in terms of economic development, and charitable and community involvement.

The OHL’s primary goals are player protection, providing competition and coaching to advance our players in hockey as far as their talent and commitment allow, teaching players leadership skills and supporting their education to ensure success in life. Our teams are proud to provide our players with the top player experience both on and off the ice.

The hallmark of the player experience in the OHL is our Scholarship Program, which provides those players who have completed their time in the OHL a minimum of one year’s tuition, books and compulsory fees at a recognized university, college, trade school or career-enhancing program, for each year played in the league. The Program further provides that teams will pay for post-secondary tuition, books and compulsory fees for those players who are still playing in the league.

In the 2017-18 academic year, there were 321 OHL graduates using their scholarship at a cost to our teams of $3.125M. Of these 321 graduates 206 are playing on U SPORTS hockey teams. In addition this academic year our teams spent $475,000 on the Scholarship Program for current players.

There is a critical issue facing not just major junior hockey but all amateur and collegiate sports leagues, teams and players in Ontario and that is the status of amateur athletes. The CHL has been working with provincial governments across Canada and state governments in the US to confirm that our players are amateur athletes and not employees regulated by employment standards legislation.

Our players, together with their parents and with the support of player agents, enter and continue to play in the OHL clearly understanding that they are participating in amateur athletics.  Virtually all other jurisdictions in which CHL teams play have reviewed this issue and have already passed exemptions/clarifications. These jurisdictions include; Québec, New Brunswick, BC, Saskatchewan, Washington, Nova Scotia, Michigan, Manitoba and PEI.

The Commissioner and the Board of Governors of the OHL is calling on the Ontario Government to, as soon as possible, provide a clarification similar to those in the nine other jurisdictions.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact David Branch, OHL Commissioner.

Sincerely,

David Branch, Commissioner

Board of Governors, Ontario Hockey League

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