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Feds give more green so Canadian athletes can go for gold

Feds to increase funding to the Athlete Assistance Program by $35 million over 5 years starting in 2024-25, and $7 million ongoing.

BOW VALLEY – By giving more green to national athletes, the hope is more gold, silver and bronze will be coming to Canada.

On Tuesday (April 16), the federal government announced in its budget that it will increase funding to the Athlete Assistance Program (APP) by $35 million over five years starting in 2024-25, and $7 million ongoing.

The annual $7 million is more than the $6.3 million requested by Canadian athletes to the federal government for the APP, which is an allowance for high-performance athletes for expenses such as living, child care, training and tuition. The request represented an 18.8 per cent increase in funding, which would have aligned with the rise in inflation since 2017, the last time an APP raise occurred.

In a joint statement, AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, the Canadian Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission and the Canadian Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Council were grateful for the incoming funds.

“We are truly appreciative of the Federal Government’s commitment to Canada’s athletes who represent our country every single day. This added investment to the Athlete Assistance Program will help to alleviate the financial strain experienced by our country’s athletes as they train and compete, and allow for ongoing competitive success on the international stage,” the statement said.

According to a recently released survey, APP funding makes up 75 per cent or more of athletes’ annual income at a maximum of $1,765 per month.

Olympian Connor Howe of Canmore receives APP, or carding, and he said it does not cover all living and training/equipment expenses, but the national champion in speed skating added the new increase is “well appreciated and definitely needed.”

“The current level is below the living wage, which makes it difficult for athletes to pursue their sport, so this additional funding will be helpful,” said Howe.

More than 1,900 athletes across 90 sports are eligible for AAP.

However, the Canadian Olympic and Canadian Paralympic committees said the investments fall “well short” of addressing the needs of National Sport Organizations (NSOs).

Last month, the Canadian Olympic and Canadian Paralympic committees requested a $104 million annual increase to the sport system funding for the 2024 Budget, saying it is “urgently needed” as the financial health of NSOs has become “increasingly dire.” 

Following the April 16 budget announcement, the Canadian Olympic Committee said: “These investments fall well short of the $104 million Budget 2024 request that addresses the needs of NSOs to advance their respective sports and deliver a sport system that is safe, inclusive, and accessible for all Canadians. The Canadian Olympic Committee will continue to engage with the federal government and advocate for these needed investments to ensure that Canadians can rely on a properly resourced sport system.”

Canadian Paralympic Committee added: “Without enhanced NSO support, the infrastructure necessary to nurture and sustain the sport system in Canada remains underfunded. Since the last funding increase in 2005, the growing needs and unique demands of sport, and especially Paralympic sport, have only intensified."

Additionally, over the next two years starting in 2024-25, the feds will provide $16 million to the Sport Support Program, $10.6 million to the Future of Sport in Canada Commission, and $15 million to help support community sport programming and reduce barriers to sport participation.

The Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games are quickly approaching this July, with the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy less than two years away.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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