Hon. Amina Gerba: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.
Senator Gold, for four weeks, the entire planet has been focused on Qatar to follow the World Cup of soccer, which is drawing to a close this weekend.
Here in Canada, we saw the excitement of Canadians, the feeling of coming together as a nation in complete solidarity with our national soccer team, Les Rouges.
In addition to helping improve Canadians’ physical fitness, soccer has also promoted Canada abroad. This sport showcases the diversity of colours and origins of our people and our multicultural nature.
Given Canada’s historical participation in the 2022 World Cup of soccer and the fact that Canada will host the World Cup in 2026 with the United States and Mexico, what is the Government of Canada doing to support this international sport that is not well developed in our country?
Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. The government is very proud to be hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2026 in Canada with our North American partners, Mexico and the United States.
Support for sports in Canada involves many stakeholders, including the Government of Canada, the private sector, provincial and territorial governments, national multisport service organizations, or MSOs, national sport organizations, or NSOs, and Canadian sport centres and institutes.
As the major investor in Canada’s amateur sport system, the Government of Canada plays an important role in that system. Through Sport Canada, the government develops programs and policies to help the sport system meet Canadians’ needs. There are many funding programs that support high-performance athletes and Canadian organizations that host sporting events, including the Athlete Assistance Program, the Hosting Program, and the Sport Support Program.
I will point out that under the Sport Support Program, the government has committed $60 million over two years to assist national organizations that currently receive funding and that are struggling financially to implement their programs and services as a result of the COVID-19. Also, there is up to a maximum of $6 million in 2021-22 to assist Olympians and Paralympians with travel costs associated with competition requirements.
Senator Gerba: Senator Gold, thank you for your response. In 2020, our women’s soccer team won gold at the Olympics.
On December 5, two former Canadian women’s soccer players, Christine Sinclair and Diana Matheson, announced the creation of a professional women’s soccer league in Canada in 2025. What kind of support can women’s soccer expect from the government to develop the sport in this country?
Senator Gold: Thank you for the question. The government is very proud of our female athletes.
I want to note that, in Budget 2018, the government announced that it would strive to achieve gender equality in sport at every level by 2035 and allocated $30 million over three years to that end.
I would also note that, in Budget 2021, the government committed $1.9 billion to support the sports sector to encourage growth and contribute to creating good jobs for the middle class.
The Government of Canada continues to work with all sports partners in order to ensure that we collectively create a safe, inclusive sports environment.
As far as women’s soccer is concerned, I would be happy to follow up with the government and come back with a response for the chamber.