Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Funding for Athletics Canada's Athletes

In March I wrote a rant about the fact that the majority of Canadian athletes going to Dublin to represent Canada at the World Cross Country Championships were asked to pay their own expenses. I indicated that I had written to our new Sports MInister asking him about this situation. After some reminders I did get a response:

"Dear Mr. Parker:

On behalf of the Honourable Paul DeVillers, Secretary of State
(Amateur Sport) and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of
Commons, thank you for your correspondence of February 28, 2002, regarding
funding for Canadian amateur athletes to participate in the World Cross
Country Championships, which were held in Dublin, Ireland, March 23-24,
2002.

Mr. DeVillers appreciates your advising him of your interest in this
matter. The Department of Canadian Heritage, through Sport Canada,
provides support to recognized national sport and multi-sport organizations
that assist high-performance amateur athletes who compete at the national
and international levels. Assistance is provided to national sport
organizations (NSOs), such as Athletics Canada, which are eligible for
financial assistance within the Sport Funding and Accountability Framework
or the Funding and Accountability Framework for Athletes with a Disability,
to fund programs for national teams, coaching development, national
championships and various other nationally based initiatives.

It should be noted, however, that Athletics Canada is solely
responsible for decisions regarding the management of its operations and
the allocation of funding for its various programs. Accordingly, this NSO
might decide to fully or partially support the participation of its
athletes in various championships or request that participants cover their
own expenses. I encourage you, therefore, to contact Ms. Johanne
Mortimore, Chief Operating Officer of Athletics Canada, directly to share
your views on this matter. Ms. Mortimore can be reached at the address
provided in the enclosure.

I trust that this information is useful. Please accept our best
wishes."


My immediate response back to his office was as follows:
"Thanks for your reply.

I am aware of the organizational structure and responsibility of Athletics Canada and I communicate with Ms. Mortimer on a regular basis.

However they are forced to make decisions within the funding envelope provided by the Government.

My point is the government made the decision to fund athletes from other countries to come here to compete (and in a record number of cases, seek asylum) and yet we (as a country) ask our own athletes to pay their way to Dublin, Ireland to compete for Canada. This appears to be a case of misplaced priorities.

As well, Heritage has decided to fund the expenses for Olympic athletes to come to Ottawa on April 15th for a celebration. Again this is strange. We will fund parties but not international athletic competitions.

It is too easy to pass the responsibility down the line to sport associations. You must pass them funding along with the responsibility.

My question is:

How can Heritage justify the funding of foreign athletes and parties when we do not fund our sport associations to the point where they can provide transportation to internationally recognized world championships?"

I'll post any follow-up on this issue.

In the emantime if you would like to express your feelings to the Minister you can email him at:
sec.devillers@pch.gc.ca.