ORFA Raises Concern of Increased Risk of Violence and Abuse to Operators When Curfews Are Used In Hockey Games

December 18, 2023


The relationship between users of ice facilities and owners and/or their representatives must be one of mutual respect. The ORFA is tracking a significant increase in member concern regarding the safety of ice arena staff, specifically involving frontline operators who are tasked with maintaining a contracted ice schedule. The ORFA respects and supports Hockey Canada’s efforts through their comprehensive Code of Conduct to ensure that:

“All Hockey Canada Athletes, Officials, Staff, and Team Personnel adhere to the highest standard of behaviour, and refrain at all times from any behaviour that could reflect poorly on Hockey Canada”. “The purpose of the Hockey Canada Code of Conduct (the “Code”) is to ensure a safe and positive environment within Hockey Canada’s programs, activities, and events by making individuals aware that there is an expectation, at all times, both on and off the ice, of appropriate behaviour consistent with Hockey Canada’s core values. Hockey Canada is committed to providing an environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and in an environment free from maltreatment, bullying and harassment”. These codes as well as the Hockey Canada Relax It’s Only a Game campaign must also include interaction with facility staff.

Contracted Ice Terms and Conditions

ORFA ice facility members fully understand the passion of the game and the importance each competitive game brings with outcomes which include having teams move forward toward a higher level of play or competition level.  However, these objectives do not override a facility’s legally contracted responsibilities to all users. It is important that all users understand that no one group is more important than the next scheduled user. Frontline staff are tasked by facility management to oversee and control a set schedule. These same frontline staff usually have no or limited authority to set or change the facilities contracted rental schedule. When any user exceeds their set scheduled ice time, the impact to other users can trickle down throughout the remaining time that the buildings is open. Other users arriving for their scheduled rental, at times from long distances that can include their games with officials or other professional hired staff, will often direct their disappointment and frustration towards frontline staff.

League Policy Does Not Exceed a Facility Contract

All facilities operate using a legally structured contract. A “contract” is an agreement between two or more parties for the doing or not doing of something specified which is enforceable by law. The ORFA understands the historical flexibility that once existed in some facilities to allow extended play outside of contracted relationships, however, the facility use landscape has dramatically changed. These changes now have users traveling long distances for their play, parents, and guardians with multiple child responsibilities for play or other activities and as such, any disruption to these planned activities can create conflict on many levels.

The ORFA is aware that some leagues have passed internal operational policy that state there will be no curfews to games. Curfew refers to the action of a facility staff member to signal that a contracted time of use has ended, and another contracted user is now scheduled to gain access to the facility. It is essential that all users understand that NO league or league representative, parent, coach, player, or other person has the authority to extended, a contracted rental period without permission of facility management.

Supervisory OHSA Violence in the Workplace Responsibilities

Facility management is also reminded of their legal obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to provide all workers with “Violence in the Workplace Training”. Workplace violence is defined in the OHSA as:

    • the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker,
    • an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker,
    • a statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker [subsection 1(1)].

This definition of workplace violence is broad enough to include acts that would constitute offences under Canada's Criminal Code. All employers, who are subject to the OHSA, must prepare policies with respect to workplace violence and workplace harassment and review them at least once a year [subsection 32.0.1(1)]. In a workplace where there are six or more regularly employed workers, the policies are required to be in writing and posted in the workplace where workers are likely to see them [subsections 32.0.1(2) and (3)]. Under the OHSA, an employer must provide appropriate information and instruction to workers on the contents of the workplace violence and harassment policies and programs [subsection 32.0.5(2)] and section 32.0.8].

Recommended Facility Staff Action to Curfew Abuse

The ORFA strongly recommends that all facility management immediately meet with all staff to discuss current policy and procedures with regards to maintaining and controlling an ice schedule. Reconfirming the internal reporting expectations and responsibilities as well as reviewing the reporting tools for such incidents is further recommended. To be successful, it is critical that all frontline staff equally apply policy without exception. When policy is appropriately applied by all staff there is no confusion by users with regards to how the building operates. A reminder to facility supervisory staff on the importance of following up and/or taking appropriate action for each reported incident is critical to creating a safe work environment. Facility supervisory staff should also take the time to research all organized sport policies, procedures and controls such as the Hockey Canada Abuse Free Sport objective Hockey Canada becomes full signatory to Abuse-Free Sport (OSIC) and announces Independent Third Party reporting mechanism and use these tools to inform senior administrative staff of any operational issues associated with their members. No facility manager wants to remove any users privilege, however, at times, this action may be necessary. Facility management are reminded that this type of control must be undertaken in accordance with the Trespass to Property Act RSO 1990, c T.21.


The ORFA believes that the route to any change is based on recognizing the risks and changes in behaviour and then acting through communication and education on expected code of conduct. ORFA members continually raise awareness of the difficulty to attract and retain qualified and engaged frontline staff. These types of issues, if left unchecked, will be one more contributing factor to not enticing the next generation of facility operators. League administrative staff must negotiate required use through proper channels and not allow any league member to try extending scheduled use beyond the contractual relationship – regardless of the situation. All stakeholders must collectively strive toward a safe and inviting ice facility.