Bank of Nova Scotia has halted its sponsorship of Hockey Canada amid allegations that it failed to report an alleged sexual-assault committed by its players.

A woman filed a lawsuit alleging that eight hockey players assaulted her after a Hockey Canada Foundation golf event in 2018, according to court documents filed in April. 

The federal government is investigating the organization’s decision to settle the sexual assault allegation out of court to determine whether taxpayer funds were used to cover its costs. Hockey Canada is the governing body for the sport in Canada.

Canada’s third-largest bank is pausing its funding “until we are confident the right steps are being taken to improve the culture within the sport -- both on and off the ice,” Chief Executive Officer Brian J. Porter said in a statement Tuesday. 

The bank is canceling its marketing and events for the World Junior Championship in August, and is redirecting the funding to other programs, including the Women’s World Championship. Porter added that the bank expects Hockey Canada to cooperate with the federal government’s investigation and to ensure that the bank’s sponsorship funds were used for intended purposes.

“The time for change is long overdue,” Porter said. “We call on Hockey Canada to move with a sense of urgency in order to ensure that the game we love is held to the highest standards, and can truly be hockey for all.”

Business development and partnerships account for 43 per cent of the organization’s funding, and government assistance 6 per cent, according to its 2021 annual report. Scotiabank declined to disclose details on the amount of funding it has provided to the organization.

Hockey Canada settled the case with the woman who had filed a $3.55 million (US$2.76 million) lawsuit against the organization, the Canadian Hockey League and the unnamed players, as first reported by TSN. The plaintiff also said that Hockey Canada was aware of the alleged assaults and that it failed to investigate accused players.

The National Hockey League announced in early June that it is conducting its own investigation into the matter as some of those players involved may be currently playing in the league.

The allegations against the unnamed players have not been proved in court.