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CHPC Committee Report

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Mr. Gordon Brown, M.P.
Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Brown:

On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am pleased to respond to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage’s report entitled Keep the Momentum Going: Canada’s Preparation for the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi. I would like to acknowledge and thank the Standing Committee for its work on this study, and also convey my appreciation to all those who appeared before the Standing Committee to share their views.

Our Government is a proud supporter of amateur sport. Each year, we provide over $190 million in grants and contributions to support sport development, sport excellence as well as the hosting of the Canada Games and international sport events in Canada. This represents a funding increase of approximately 40 percent since our Government came into power in 2006. Sport is vital to Canadian society. It contributes to the development of life skills among children and youth, and helps to promote healthy and active lifestyles for all Canadians. Canadians also take pride in our athletes, who represent Canada with distinction when they compete internationally.

Canadians have much to be proud of from the Sochi Games. At both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Canada placed third in the gold medal count and fourth in the overall medal count, achieving Canada’s targets to contend for first place at the Olympic Games and finish third at the Paralympic Games.

I am pleased to receive the Standing Committee’s seven recommendations and their implications on future games. Our Government agrees with these recommendations, and would like to take this opportunity to inform the Standing Committee of the many initiatives and programs being undertaken by Sport Canada to address them.

Recommendation 1: Monitoring the health and well-being of athletes

Our Government, through Sport Canada, will continue to support the health and well-being of Canadian athletes. National sport organizations (NSOs) and Canadian sport centres (CSCs) use funding from Sport Canada to care for the health of our athletes, including for matters related to medical, sport science, strength and conditioning, sport psychology, biomechanics and nutrition. In addition, the Canadian Athlete Monitoring Program, which is also supported by Sport Canada, enables medical monitoring of the health of high-performance athletes’ in their daily training environments. Further, Sport Canada funding to the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) contributes to the provision of an on-site mobile health care clinic, staffed with Canadian practitioners, to support the health care needs of Canadian athletes when competing at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Recommendation 2: Funding strategy for the Own the Podium program

In Economic Action Plan 2014, our Government re-affirmed its support for the Own the Podium initiative, committing ongoing funding dedicated to its partnership with Own the Podium (OTP), the organization established to provide technical leadership to NSOs and CSCs. Sport Canada, based on recommendations from OTP, will continue its funding strategy of targeting athletes with the best chance of achieving podium performances and ensuring that they have appropriate coaching and technical leadership, strong training and competition environments, and access to quality sport science and sport medicine support. Due in part to the work done by OTP, Canada’s athletes and coaches have been achieving world-class results.

Recommendation 3: Long-term athlete development

Recognizing the need to plan 8 to 12 years in advance to achieve podium performances, our Government, through Sport Canada, championed the development of the seven-stage, Long-Term Athlete Development model (LTAD) and has also required NSOs to develop sport-specific LTAD models. Sport Canada will continue to review its funding programs, taking into consideration both Government of Canada policies, as well as the requirements of the Olympic/Paralympic quadrennial cycle. Sport Canada’s funding is structured to address both long- and short-term needs of sport organizations and is based on a combination of competition results and programming in the high-performance and sport-development areas. Targeted funding, recommended by OTP, has typically focused on performance within a particular year or quadrennial. More recently, OTP incorporated long-term development plans through their Podium Pathway initiative to identify and develop athletes over 12 years of age and lead them to podium performances. This initiative is connected to each sport-specific LTAD model.

Recommendation 4: Private-sector funding

Our Government will continue to encourage sport organizations to diversify their funding and require them to demonstrate financial viability. When meeting with members of the private sector, I make a point of seeking their ideas and encouraging them to increase their support of sport and our athletes. I will continue to work with our stakeholders to find new ways to increase private-sector funding in sport. The Canadian Sport Policy 2012 encourages governments, the sport community and the private sector to explore and implement new and innovative private/public funding models to build more sustainable and diverse funding to the sport system.

In addition, Sport Canada will continue to monitor the status of trends in private investment in sport, and consider any opportunities for future program strategies to further encourage private-sector investment. Findings show that private investment in the sport system is strong and that federal government funding leverages approximately an equal amount of funding from other sources for sport organizations.

As an example of significant private-sector funding for high-performance sport, in 2012, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced its intention to inject $100 million into Olympic sports over the 2013–2016 quadrennial, doubling its financial support from the previous 2008–2012 quadrennial.

Recommendation 5: Participation in sport by all Canadians

Sport Canada collaborates with its provincial and territorial counterparts to promote sport at all levels. The Canadian Sport Policy 2012, which was approved by all federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for sport, physical activity and recreation provides a vision for sport in Canada. Through bilateral agreements with provinces and territories, our Government supports quality participation programs aligned with LTAD principles. For instance, through an agreement with Manitoba, the federal government’s matched contribution of approximately $312,000, provided programs consistent with LTAD to over 12,000 participants. Programs such as these will optimally prepare Canadians who choose to practice competitive sport, leading towards podium performances at future Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In addition, our Government introduced the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, to encourage Canadians to participate in physical activity and sport. While the initiative supports children’s participation in a wide variety of physical activities, sport-related activities make up a significant portion of it.

Recommendation 6: Consular contingency plans

In response to the social discrimination expressed in Russian laws, the Department of Canadian Heritage worked closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other government departments to develop and implement co-ordinated plans with respect to the safety and security of Team Canada. These government departments engaged the COC and CPC early regarding the security context for the Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Games. This work encompassed multiple site visits, many of which were undertaken with the COC and CPC. Outreach to COC and CPC officials and athletes and to the general public about security measures and travel advisories was regularly updated.

In addition, DFATD developed specific consular contingency plans for the Games, which were shared with all partners. The Government Operations Centre established a working group of key Government of Canada security stakeholders who met daily to assure ongoing monitoring of the environment. This process ensured that any issues were appropriately addressed. These precautionary measures will be continued for future Games to which Canada sends a team.

Recommendation 7: Protecting athletes from inadvertent doping and serious injury

Our Government recognizes the importance of protecting athletes from inadvertent doping. To this end, our Government supports the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) and contributes to the administration of the Canadian Anti-Doping Program. In addition, all NSOs receiving Sport Canada funding must comply with the requirements of the Canadian Anti-Doping Program. To further combat the risk of inadvertent doping through nutritional supplements, Health Canada provides guidelines and best practices on quality control in manufacturing and comprehensive labelling.

The Government of Canada also requires all athletes who are supported through the Athlete Assistance Program to complete an anti-doping e-learning course. Non-carded athletes who participate in the Canada Games and in collegiate and varsity sports also have access to CCES e-learning courses such as the True Sport Clean e-learning module. These courses provide necessary education directly to athletes to protect them from inadvertent doping.

As announced in the 2013 Speech from the Throne, our Government has committed to collaborating with injury prevention organizations to reduce the injury rate in Canada. The Minister of Health is supporting research projects on traumatic brain injury and concussions. The Public Health Agency of Canada is currently evaluating the outcomes of the Active and Safe Injury Prevention Initiative, a Government funding program that supported projects across the country intended to help reduce the prevalence of concussions and head injuries in sport. Further, Sport Canada will continue to work closely with NSOs, such as Hockey Canada and Football Canada, and multisport service organizations such as the Coaching Association of Canada and the CCES, to establish guidelines, concussion awareness resources, and standards for appropriate training and competition for coaches and the sport community.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to thank the Standing Committee for its recommendations and its interest in ensuring the best care of our Canadian athletes, as they prepare for international competitions such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Please accept my best wishes.


The Honourable Bal Gosal, P.C., M.P.