Hockey Canada has lost fees from Québec and two major sponsors ©Getty Images

Fees to Hockey Canada from its member in Québec have been stopped while the under-fire organisation has also lost a pair of major sponsors.

The national body has faced months of criticism for allegedly mishandling sexual assault and sexual misconduct cases, as well as for its progress in bringing in changes.

In a statement, Hockey Québec said it did not have confidence in Hockey Canada's ability to "act effectively to change the culture of hockey with the structure in place".

Its decision to stop paying fees comes after revelations that player registration cash was being put towards a fund "for matters including but not limited to sexual abuse".

Previously, it was revealed that a separate National Equity Fund was also being used to settle sexual misconduct claims.

"We believe that any amount from our members' contributions, in addition to the costs of the insurance policy, should be used to improve services and programmes for them," Hockey Québec said.

Claude Fortin, the chair of the Board of Directors at Hockey Québec, said the organisation was not happy with how an action plan to address the crisis is progressing.

"We sent a series of questions to Hockey Canada, some of which were not answered," he told Radio Canada.  

Tim Hortons, one of the most famous Canadian brands, has ended its sponsorship of Hockey Canada's men's teams ©Getty Images
Tim Hortons, one of the most famous Canadian brands, has ended its sponsorship of Hockey Canada's men's teams ©Getty Images

"We asked to do things that we thought were fair and smart.

"We are not necessarily satisfied with the way they are proceeding with the implementation of the action plan."

Canadian Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge had urged regional bodies to put pressure on Hockey Canada in order to push through a change of leadership.

She said that if officials did not step down voluntarily, then voting members needed to "clean the house".

All of the regional organisations will vote in a Board of Directors election next month, and St-Onge welcomed the move from Québec.

"It sends the message to the leaders at the organisation that are holding onto their jobs that Hockey Canada doesn't belong to them, it also belongs to their members, and they want change," she said. 

"They want a change of culture and they want a fight against sexual violence."

Tim Hortons and Scotiabank are the major sponsors which have ended their sponsorship of Canada's men's ice hockey teams, after previously suspending their backing.

Both have withdrawn for the 2022-2023 season and will not sponsor the World Junior Championships that Canada is hosting in Halifax and Moncton in December and January.

"We've communicated to Hockey Canada on many occasions that the organisation needs to take strong and definitive action before it can regain the faith and trust of Canadians," a statement from fast food chain Tim Hortons, one of the most famous Canadian brands, said. 

"We're deeply disappointed in the lack of progress that Hockey Canada has made to date. 

"We continue to fund Canada's women's and Para hockey teams, as well as youth hockey."

Criticism of Hockey Canada has come from as far up as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

"It boggles the mind that Hockey Canada is continuing to dig in its heels," he said.

"Parents across the country are losing faith or have lost faith in Hockey Canada. 

"Certainly, politicians here in Ottawa have lost faith in Hockey Canada."

Ice hockey is widely considered to be Canada's national pastime, so the crisis has impacted the country deeply.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has joined the criticism of Hockey Canada ©Getty Images
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has joined the criticism of Hockey Canada ©Getty Images

Hockey Canada's interim chair Andrea Skinner has defended the organisation.

"Toxic behaviour exists throughout society," she said in front of a standing committee in Ottawa.

"Suggesting that toxic behaviour is somehow a specific hockey problem, or to scapegoat hockey as a centerpiece for toxic culture is, in my opinion, counterproductive to finding solutions, and risks overlooking the change that needs to be made more broadly, to prevent and address toxic behaviour, particularly against women.

"Our Board does not share the view that Hockey Canada should be making more leadership changes at this time. 

"As a Board, we continue to support the CEO and management."

Skinner also claimed that Hockey Canada has an excellent reputation.

"I think that would be very impactful in a negative way to all of our boys and girls who are playing hockey," she added on removing officials.

"Will the lights stay on at the rink? 

"I don't know, we can't predict that. 

"To me, it's not a risk worth taking."