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Safety Leadership

Scouts Canada places great importance on creating a fun and safe environment for our members, especially children and youth. It is your role as a safety leader to role model this behaviour and influence others to create and reinforce a culture of safety.

Safety leadership is more than ensuring compliance and rule-following. It is about setting the tone for what is both acceptable and desirable to ensure we maintain a safe environment for youth by modeling appropriate behaviours. While this may sound complicated, it is often simply a matter of choosing to do what is right as opposed to what is expedient.

  • Culture of Safety
  • The Group Commissioner's Role in Safety Leadership

    Safety leadership is more than ensuring compliance. It is about setting the tone of what is both acceptable and desirable to ensure we maintain a safe environment and behaviours that role-model for our youth a leading safety culture. While safety leadership may sound complicated, it is often simply choosing to do what is right as opposed to what is expedient.

    Fundamentally, we make a commitment to our parents, youth and members that when people are in our care they return in the same condition or better than when they arrived. At Scouts Canada, we believe that all accidents are preventable and our actions at all times will reflect that. We do our best to ensure no injury occurs on our watch, however small.

    Ultimately, Group Committees have several key responsibilities when it comes to safety:

    • Ensure Scouts Canada’s Policies are adhered to;
    • Ensure the safety of regular meeting places;
    • Ensure the safety of all outdoor activities;
    • Ensure the safe maintenance of group equipment;
    • Ensure only safe adults are appointed as Scouters;

    And ensure Scouters always err on the side of caution.

    The Group Commissioner's Role in Personal Safety

    The safety of our youth, Volunteers and employees cannot be compromised. Health and safety must be integrated into everything we do. Every member of Scouts Canada will be diligent in identifying and managing risk so everyone can safely participate in Scouting adventures.

    We will be role models for the future leaders that we represent. We will keep up our commitment to parents and youth that everyone can trust Scouting to be a safe place to have fun adventures.

    Note: Child & Youth Safety is a special topic that is treated independently from Health & Safety.

    The Group Commissioner's Role in Risk Management

    The Group Commissioner is accountable to ensure all Group and Section activities identify and evaluate risks, implementing mitigation strategies where possible. This is to ensure the safety of members, the delivery of planned outcomes, the preservation of asset value and property, the protection of the environment—and to verify that all activities and projects are conducted within the law and regulatory requirements.

    The list below is a sample of ‘standard’ risk areas—the standard also provides a sample Group Risk Register and completed Risk Assessment Matrix to support Groups getting started.

    • Youth safety—readiness, screening, interviews
    • Building / meeting place safety
    • Building / meeting place availability, contract management
    • Transportation of youth
    • Event management
    • Weather-related emergency response and preparedness
    • Scouter competencies and skills—appropriate for program plans
    • Facilitation of The Canadian Path
    • Membership growth and retention
    • Talent management—Scouter ‘funnel’ for Volunteer roles
    • Financial management—fundraising, fiscal management, budget plans
    • Diversity/inclusion to desired plan—for community growth
    • Community/sponsor engagement—stakeholder management and engagement
  • Volunteer Screening
  • Volunteer Screening

    Volunteer screening is one of the core ways that everyone at Scouts Canada creates a fun, safe environment for children, youth and adults. Volunteer screening helps us to ensure that anyone interacting with youth knows their responsibilities, supports Scouts Canada’s Mission and Principles, and has the training needed to succeed in their roles.

    New Scouters, Rover Scouts & Other Volunteers
      Scouts Canada Members Non-Members
      Scouters Under 18
    (inc. CYC, AYC)
    Rover Scouts Scouters & other
    Adults (e.g. BP Guild)
    Day Activity: Parents
    & Other Adults
    Overnight Activity:
    Parents or Guardian
    Overnight Activity:
    Other Adults
    Application Yes Yes Yes No No No
    Interview Yes Yes Yes Code of Conduct Review Code of Conduct Review  Code of Conduct Review 
    Reference Check Yes  Yes  Yes  No  No  No 
    Code of Conduct Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes 
    PRC (Clean) No  Yes  Yes  No  No  Yes 
    VSS (Clean) No  Yes  Yes  No  No  Yes 
    Mandatory Training Scouting Fundamentals  Scouting Fundamentals  Scouting Fundamentals  No  Safe Scouting for Parents  Safe Scouting for Parents 
    Supervision Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes — 2 Scouters  Yes — 2 Scouters  Yes — 2 Scouters 
    Count for Ratio Yes  Yes  Yes  No  No  No 
    Other No  No  No  Role explained to youth  Role explained to youth  Role explained to youth 


    Returning Scouters and Rover Scouts    
       Scouters Under 18 (inc. CYC, AYC) Rover Scouts  Scouters & other adults (e.g. BP Guild) 
    Application  Yes   Yes Yes 
    Interview  If new Group If new Group If new Group
    Reference Check  If new Group If new Group If new Group 
    Code of Conduct  Yes  Yes  Yes 
    Wood Badge I  Yes  No  Yes 
    PRC Renewal  N/A 3 years from last PRC  3 years from last PRC 
    VSS Renewal  N/A  No  No 


  • Safety Resources
  • Incident Reporting

    Scouters must document all incidents, whether minor or serious, that occur during a Scouts Canada-sanctioned activity. An incident is an out-of-the-ordinary occurrence, such as an illness, injury, discipline problem, conflict, frightening situation or any unusual or unexpected occurrence during a Scouts Canada activity or event. As a general rule, if it’s something that you or a Scouter would inform a parent about, an Incident Report Form must be submitted.

    A minor incident is defined as one that is unlikely to have future repercussions.

    A serious incident is one that involves any of the following: 

    • Assistance from authorities (fire, police, ambulance, etc.) 
    • Participants who are emotionally and/or psychologically distressed
    • Widespread illness of many participants (e.g. at a large event or camp) 
    • A stay in a hospital 
    • Life-threatening illness 
    • An injury that had the potential to cause permanent disability or life-changing consequences—including future health-care repercussions 
    • Has future negligence and/or criminal repercussions 
    • Poses a serious or significant negative impact on Scouts Canada or has future insurance implications 
    • Interest from provincial or national media

    The Scouter in Charge or the Scouter closest to the incident must complete an Incident Report Form. The responsible Scouter must ensure that the form is sent by fax or email immediately to the Safe Scouting team at the National Service Centre: 


    Phone (emergencies only): 1-800-339-6643

    Anti-Bullying & Harassment (Code of Conduct)

    Bullying and harassment are forms of abuse. Bullying and harassment break down the positive and protective environment we seek to develop, and can be physically, emotionally or sexually harmful. It is contrary to our objective of individual growth and development. Bullying and harassment in any form are unacceptable.

    Statement of Contextual Parameters

    The bullying and harassment policy pertains and applies to ALL members of the Scouting community, and ALL the different forms of relationships within our community, including relationships between adult professionals, Volunteers and parents, as well as between children and youth of all ages. It is recognized that adults and older youth are role models, and that children and youth learn powerful lessons through observation of the behaviours of adults. Children and youth learn what is  and what is not acceptable in relationships through observing the ways Scouters relate to each other, how Scouters relate to other children and youth in their Section, and how Scouters relate to them.

    Because cyberbullying affects relationships and the social climate within the Scouting community, cyberbullying is covered by the same policy as other forms of bullying and harassment.

    Role of the Group Commissioner

    As the Group Commissioner is responsible for the overall health and safety of his or her Group, he or she is responsible to ensure that:

    • Bullying and harassment preventative steps are implemented in each Section;
    • Scouters in the Group know how to identify bullying or harassment, and are familiar with Scouts Canada’s Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy;
    • When bullying or harassment is identified within the Group, the procedure and process described in Scouts Canada’s Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy is followed.

    Complaints Procedure

    Scouts Canada recognizes its responsibility to deal fairly, constructively and consistently with expressions of concern or dissatisfaction from members, parents and non-members on behalf of themselves or their children. This procedure is not to be used:

    1. For complaints involving youth protection matters
    2. Where individuals disagree with a Scouts Canada policy or procedure
    3. For serious complaints about allegations of organizational financial or resource mismanagement

    Group Emergency Response (Including Escalation)

    The purpose of this guideline is to highlight the expectations and key actions required of Group Commissioners for group-specific Emergency Preparedness and Response. This document refers to the minimum requirements laid out in the Emergency Preparedness and Response Standard that ensures Scouts Canada members have an efficient and effective management of emergency situations with the potential to impact Scouts Canada, its stakeholders, the environment, assets, financial condition or reputation.

    Role of the Group Commissioner in Emergency Response

    The primary role of the Group Commissioner is to ensure that all Scouters, especially Section Contact Scouters and “Scouters in Charge”, are both knowledgeable and competent to execute their requirements and the minimum expectations for Emergency Response—as specified in the Scouts Canada Emergency Preparedness & Response Standard and detailed in this guideline.

    At all activities, Scouters must have the Emergency Response Plan, a list of participants, and the schedule of activities or itinerary available to all Scouters. 

    The following two sections provide specifics on Emergency Response and Emergency Communications that GCs need to ensure are adhered to at all times. 

    Emergency Response

    For every Scouting meeting, activity, camp or event, Scouters must prepare an Emergency Response Plan that addresses expected and unexpected situations. The Emergency Response Plan (ERP) will include the Emergency Response Guidelines that outline a number of specific situations and a corresponding course of actions for responding to emergencies. Additional measures must be developed for potential situations not addressed in the guidelines and noted on the ERP.

    Emergency Communication

    The Responsible Scouter must plan for group communication to be reliable and supported by back-up plans. Scouters must plan for a communication method between group members. This may include, but is not limited to, use of the buddy system, radios, mobile phones and whistles.

    Best Practice—Emergency Response Guidelines

    • Missing Person
    • Evacuation
    • Persons with Disabilities
    • Intruder
    • Traumatic/Medical Emergency
    • Parent/guardian does not arrive to pick up child
  • Group Health Navigator
  •   1. Passive Management 2. Thoughtful Management  3. Proactive Management  4. Management Excellence 
    Safety Leadership  The Group meets all Scouts Canada Policies & Procedures The Group Commissioner role models safety leadership, especially in challenging situations All Scouters role model safety leadership, especially in challenging situations Safety leadership is internalized by all members and is considered for every decision in and out of Scouting