February 22, 2005

More Funding for Canadian Amateur Sports

The Canadian Press has leaked this news about tomorrow's federal budget (a Canadian tradition). According to the CP's sources, the Sport Canada budget will be increased to $140M CAD for the upcoming fiscal year.

If I have my facts straight, last year's Sport Canada budget was $90M, which was then boosted by a "one-time only" $30M infusion in May of 2004. So the new total could be interpreted as an extension of this $30M, plus $20M in new money. It falls significantly short of what the COC was pitching to Parliament earlier this month, but is still a significant increase.

As discussed previously here, the "excellence" portion of the Sport Canada budget, targeted at the programs that produce high-performance athletes, will not be distributed evenly to all sports. The high-performance programs of all summer and winter sports are currently under an in-depth review, to identify those sports where Canada's medal chances are best.

Bring Back the A Card!

As part of the budget increase, the CP is reporting that the monthly living allowance given to Canadian national team athletes under the Athlete Assistance Program will rise from $1100 to $1500. This will be a nice increase for our athletes, who have now seen the maximum monthly stipend go from $650 to $1500 in the last eight years. At the beginning of that period, Sport Canada did away with the "graded" carding levels (A, B, and C) that rewarded the top performers on the national team with a bigger allowance. Personally, I would like to see that come back, so that athletes who have proven podium potential get a bigger piece of the pie.


WM-K1-91 said...

well -- I think I agree that there needs to be some incentive inherent in the "carding system". I may be old school in that respect -- but I remember that in the old days being an "A" card actually counted for something -- performance had its privelege! Perhaps these days the external rewards of sponsorship mean that the top people are already getting more money and attention than those just barely on the team, does anyone know?

Amateur said...

It's a good point that you've raised -- today's carding system (Sport Canada Athlete Assistance Program) is very egalitarian, but lots of other things are not. Sponsorship is only one example.

Another is the COC Excellence Fund, part of which is directed straight into the hands of athletes who have achieved podium performances. A world championship or Olympic medal would translate directly into about $5000 from the COC.

The Excellence Fund also provides money to NSFs that is specifically earmarked for support of podium-potential athletes, which means that they pay fewer out-of-pocket expenses.

In practical terms, these programs far outweigh the effect of the old graded system, which paid $650 a month to the best athletes and $450 a month to the hangers-on.