Question Period: Special Olympics

By: The Hon. Peter Harder

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Hon. Peter Harder: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

This week and next, many of us are and will be glued to our television sets cheering on Canadian athletes as they compete in the Olympic Winter Games. But aside from the vicarious pleasure of watching our best athletes compete for medals, participating in sport is an important part of learning how to work with others, improve self-esteem, develop friendships and be a part of something.

The organization Special Olympics Canada works to make these life benefits available to Canadians with intellectual disabilities. It has been a great success. Unfortunately, the pandemic has forced the suspension of much the organization’s in-person programming, which has, in turn, negatively affected participation in the program. As a result, the Special Olympics is asking that the four-year agreement — providing an extra $1.8 million per year — now be made permanent.

With the agreement expiring, would the Government Representative agree to report to this chamber whether the government will be extending this program?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): It would be my pleasure to do so. Thank you for the question and for raising this important program that benefits so many Canadians with a disability.

Senator Harder: We all know that Special Olympics provide many benefits, such as providing sports programming at low or no cost to families. They also give back to Canadian communities, providing more than$7 of social benefits for every dollar invested.

The next Special Olympics World Winter Games are less than a year away. In making his representations, I wonder if the Government Representative would appeal to the Minister of Finance to include a provision for this $1.8 million to be continued in the next budget.

Senator Gold: I will certainly pass on that request. Thank you again for your question.

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