Thursday, June 13, 2002

Government Funding for Athletes

Comments by SImon Whitfield, Canadian Olympic Gold Medal winner in the triathlon at Sydney, highlight the ongoing problem with the lack of proper funding support for Canadian athletes.

In a feature in the Globe and Mail Whitfield says:
"Unfortunately, the way the system is set up, you often get support when you don't need it, but don't have the support when you start.

"They've got a program that rewards you when you get a gold medal, which is totally illogical. Once you win the gold medal, you don't need as much support. When you're trying to get better, that's when you need it."

While this may seem like a simple concept that is obvious it is a concept that is foreign to the people in government who make funding decisions. The individual sports associations can only do so much with the funding they receive. The problem is at a higher level. It resides with those in government who make decisions regarding the dispursement of our tax dollars.

We can fund a sportsman's show that never happens to the tune of $330,000. We can spend money ensuring that the Montreal Canadiens hockey broadcasts are available to every French-Canadian across the country. We can provide funding to mercenary sports teams where the average salary exceeds one million dollars per year - but we cannot fund grass roots athletes who represent our country in international events which are practiced the world over.

If you would like to help with this problem, contact our minister responsible for sport, Paul DeVillers, at: DeVillers.P@parl.gc.ca.