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Federal Budget 2006: Ten Days for Sport to Make a Difference

April 10, 2006 – Let’s get this budget started.

Yes, we are just about one month away from federal budget day. And it turns out we have less than 10 days for sport to make a difference in how that budget looks, to convince the Conservative Government to convert their campaign pledge into fiscal policy in this budget. This would provide unprecedented funding for sport and physical activity equal to 1% of federal health spending or at least $300 million/year. (See below for more info on Conservative Party election promises.)

It seems to some, including me, that despite the election promises, budget commitments to sport and physical activity may not surface.

What’s up?

Parliament is in motion and the Conservative government is crafting its first budget to focus on the 5 main priorities. Still, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is taking a page from the populist’s handbook by turning to Canadians like us to determine what will be implemented now – and by default, what may happen later in the life of the minority parliament, if ever. This presents a unique window of opportunity for the millions of sport participants and volunteers, plus the tens of thousands of sport and physical activity organizations in communities across Canada.

The government wishes to hear from Canadians – from families, from community groups, from friends of Canadian sport, and from Canadian sport and physical activity organizations. And they stop hearing from us on April 19th – just 10 days away.

So, let’s speak up.now. And pass along this email to others.

How?

It’s easy. Send an email to the Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty (budget2006consult@fin.gc.ca). That’s it. Copy your MP (click here for a list: http://webinfo.parl.gc.ca/MembersOfParliament/MainMPsCompleteList.aspx?TimePeriod=Current&Language=E). You could blind copy us too if you want (bcc: info@sportmatters.ca).

What to say?

Something in your own words, that’s for sure. It doesn’t make sense for everyone to send the same story. Use your own experience to describe what the 1% can accomplish.

One Friend of Canadian Sport, Victor Lachance, already wrote something this simple, “Dear Minister Flaherty: If you care about families like mine, you’ll move ahead with your promises to sport and to physical activity. Best wishes, Victor Lachance, Riding of Glengarry Prescott Russell. cc to MP, Pierre Lemieux”

We all heard the messages from Torino and Melbourne too – that every child is an athlete and that every athlete has a hometown. We can remind the Minister that our children and athletes are ready for Canada to become an active nation again. And about what it will take to get us there – the 1% investment.

Some sport organizations are preparing formal letters outlining how the 1% investment in Canadians now is better than an investment in the health care system later.

Others are describing how sport – from playground to podium – is one way to address the root causes of crime in our urban communities.

Pick an approach that works for you. Pick another angle. The important thing is that you send the message. For help, call us at 1 800 670 5785, email info@sportmatters.ca, or visit www.sportmatters.ca. Ian Bird

On behalf of the Sport Matters Group

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More information on the Conservative Government election promises:

1. The Conservatives have committed to spending a minimum of 1% of total federal health funding on physical activity and sport (about $300 million/year).

Our brief analysis:

1% of what? In 2005-06, 1% of federal health funding = $318 Million (Canada Health Transfer) – 436 Million (total federal health spending).

1% for what? To implement the Physical Activity and Sport Act, including the Canadian Sport Policy and the Pan-Canadian Strategy on Physical Activity.

Minister for Sport, Michael Chong announced last week at the Sport Events Congress in Ottawa his intention to implement this commitment. No timeline or interpretation of the 1% commitment was assigned.

2. The Conservatives have announced a tax credit on spending of up to $500/year on registration fees and memberships for programs promoting fitness in children under sixteen.

Our brief analysis:

Minister for Sport, Michael Chong announced last week at the Sport Events Congress in Ottawa his intention to implement this commitment. The Conservative Party has estimated the cost at $130m which calculated at a 16% rate amounts to a real value of $80/year per child.

3. The Conservatives have pledged $50 million/year for community-based programs targeting youth at risk, which includes sport amongst other priorities.

Our brief analysis:

There has been no additional public commentary on this commitment since the election campaign.





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