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Canada's women 'don't trust' officials over pay deal

Canada's women soccer players have told a government hearing they do not trust the sport's national governing body to negotiate a fair labour agreement.

The remarks came after management went public with proposals for equal pay and division of prize money.

"It is time to get a deal done," Canada Soccer general secretary Earl Cochrane said in a statement accompanying proposals the federation said were made to the women's and men's national teams last June.

"Our women deserve to be paid equally and they deserve the financial certainty going into the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup."

Canada's women, the reigning Olympic champions, have been drawn in the same group as Australia for the tournament which kicks off on July 20.

They have demanded equal pay, following the lead of their American counterparts who last year reached a landmark collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the US Soccer Federation.

"As a team, we do not trust Canada Soccer to be open and honest as we continue to negotiate for not only fair and equitable compensation and treatment, but for the future of our program," Canada captain Christine Sinclair said during testimony before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa.

Janine Beckie, another of the four players at the hearing, said the team felt "quite disrespected" by Canada Soccer's announcement, which she said included terms not previously communicated to players.

The women's previous CBA expired at the end of 2021. The men are seeking their first formal labour contract.

Decrying the lack of movement on an agreement, the women announced last month they planned to sit out the high-profile SheBelieves Cup in the United States.

Canada Soccer responded by saying the planned action amounted to an illegal strike, leading the team to play under protest.

The women's team claimed it had not been paid for 2022 and funding cuts were drastically limiting preparations for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Last week, Canada Soccer announced it had reached an interim agreement to pay the women retroactively for appearances in 2022.

The move followed the resignation of Nick Bontis as federation president, acknowledging change was needed to achieve labour peace.

Sinclair recalled interaction with Bontis last year during contract negotiations.

"The president of Canada Soccer listened to what I had to say," she said.

"And then later in the meeting referred back to it as, quote, 'What was it Christine was bitching about?'.

"To me this spoke volumes about the lack of respect Canada Soccer has for its women's national team."

Sinclair said interim federation president Charmaine Crooks has not reached out to the players.

"Pay equity is actually just a little piece of the puzzle," Sinclair said.

"It's about equal treatment. It's about equal opportunities, equal resources, and honestly, until that happens, we're going to be at a stalemate."