Sport and Health

Canada Coat of Arms

Final Report Released in December 1998

In December 1998, after exhaustive consultations throughout the country, the Sub-Committee on the Study of Sport in Canada (Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage) released its final report and recommendations: SPORT IN CANADA: EVERYBODY’S BUSINESS – LEADERSHIP, PARTNERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY, Chaired by Dennis Mills, MP (Toronto-Danforth).

From the Conclusions of the Report:

The future of sport in Canada depends on strong leadership, partnership and accountability. Our report leaves no doubt as to the significance of the role played by sport in this country. Sport is vital in terms of Canada’s economy, cultural identity and the general health and well-being of Canadians. Many Canadians – employees, participants and spectators – are touched by sport in some manner each and every day. Sport permeates both goods-producing and services-producing sectors of the economy. In the mid-1990s, sport’s share of the total output of the Canadian economy exceeded 1% and the sport industry employed more than 262,000 individuals. Sport’s share of total output in the Canadian economy exceeds many other industries including wood; logging and forestry; fishing and trapping; and aircraft and aircraft parts. In 1996, Canadians spent almost $8 billion on sport-related activities. Sport imparts a large impact on other sectors of the economy, especially tourism. It is estimated that sport contributes some $4 billion in tourism expenditures.

Today, millions of Canadians participate in one or more sports. Many individuals also participate in sport as coaches and organizers. The participation of spectators is also significant, as evidenced by the high-attendance levels at, and TV ratings afforded to, sporting events across the country. Canadians’ participation in sport exceeds all other activity.

Despite the upward trend in the number of physically active Canadians over the years, there is considerable scope for improvement as it is estimated that less than 40% of Canadians were active in 1995. And, since it is now widely accepted that physical activity contributes to a stronger and healthier population, increasing the level of activity among Canadians is growing in importance. Health Canada research suggests that a 10% reduction in the number of inactive Canadians would save the Canadian economy $5 billion. The Committee is very cognizant of sport’s role in this context and proposes a number of recommendations designed to enhance the general level of activity among Canadians and the vitality of sport in this country. Special focus is afforded to youth, women, disabled and Aboriginal people. The Committee recommends that a federal department of sport be created. It also calls for the introduction of a non-refundable tax credit for training costs incurred by volunteer coaches and officials and a non-refundable child sport tax credit, an allocation of some of the recent increase in Sport Canada funding to benefit underrepresented groups, an expansion of school sport programs, the integration of disabled persons into sports governing bodies and the creation and funding of an Aboriginal sports and recreation council.

The Committee recognizes the important role played by Canada’s high-performance amateur athletes and recommends that the number of national sport organizations eligible for funding be increased and that a minimum level of $100,000 be available to national sport organizations for olympic sport to provide a basic level of service for athletes. Furthermore, equity considerations call for a change in carding eligibility criteria so as to permit funding for all eligible national team athletes. The Committee also recommends that the federal government continue to support the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport in Canada’s fight to eliminate drug use in sport.

Professional sport is an important contributor to the economy and to the lives of many Canadians. Statistics Canada estimates that in the mid-1990s, professional sport and the presentation of live sport spectacles contributed approximately $608 million to Canadian GDP and created 23,715 jobs. However, the financial health of professional sport and its continued existence in this country are threatened by higher payroll and infrastructure costs and by the level of public support provided to professional teams south of the border. In recognition of the growing problems facing this component of Canada’s sport industry, the Committee recommends that a five-part federal strategy called the sport pact be established to promote the vitality and stability of professional sport in this country. This strategy would, for example, provide tax incentives to eligible sports franchises and encourage more small businesses to support their local teams.

Our vision of the future of sport in Canada, shared by many Canadians, calls for a stronger partnership between the public and private sectors and more co-operation between governments. All levels of government play an active role in promoting sport-related activities. As noted in this report, municipalities represent the backbone of our sport delivery system. It is at the community level that tomorrow’s world class athletes begin their training. To assist in the continued development of sports facilities, the Committee recommends that the federal government, in conjunction with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, initiate a sports facility infrastructure program. In addition, the Committee recommends that a fixed percentage of property sold by Canada Lands be used for recreational purposes. Equally important, new sources of sport funding must be developed and, in this context, the Committee recommends the creation of a new vehicle for funding amateur sport called the millennium sport bond.

These and the many other recommendations in this report represent the Committee’s vision for strengthening sport in this country. Much work lies ahead and the Committee invites all Canadians to work together to make this collective vision a reality. Finally, the Committee would like to thank all of those who generously shared their views and expertise on this very important subject and who made this report possible.


Outcomes of the Work

The Right Honourable Jean Chretien, Prime Minister of Canada, acted on the main recommendations from Sport in Canada,  announcing the creation of a new portfolio that was to be headed by Denis Coderre, MP (Bourassa).

On August 2, 1999, the Rt. Hon. Jean Chretien, Prime Minister of Canada, recruited into the Cabinet MP Denis Coderre, the member representing the riding of Bourassa in Quebec.

Coderre would serve as the Secretary of State for Amateur sport, a newly created portfolio recommended by the sub-committee report.

Responding to Coderre’s appointment as the Sport minister, Mills said enthusiastically, “Denis is the obvious person to head the initiatives that will eminate from this portfolio.  It’s long overdue that Canadians see amateur sport in this country brought from out of mothball status and right onto the front burner.

Highlights of the Work

Sport in Canada represents the most comprehensive parliamentary review of sport in 30  years, since the 1969 Task Force Report on Sport.

 68 of 69 recommendations deal primarily with amateur sport.

 The Report acknowledges the economic scope and magnitude of sport in Canada, the industry of sport.

 The Report recognizes the powerful contribution of sport in building healthy, productive citizens and communities in a uniquely Canada way — the spirit of sport.

Sport represents $8.9 billion in GDP.

 Sport accounts for 262,326 jobs in Canada.

The Report also recommended a Sport Tax Credit

– It’s designed to encourage family expenditure on sport and recreation programs and equipment.

– It would be a non-refundable credit of $1,000 per child based on a total expense of $5,882.

-It would be targetted to families with household income of $55,000 or less  (one child), $65,000 or less (two children), $75,000 or less (three children)

– Total cost of the child sport tax credit is estimated at $43-$86 million (compare that number to the Child Tax Benefit, which is expected to cost over $1.7 billion in the year 2000)

Complete Report