September 25, 2022

La Ronge Northerner

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The sports community demands 500 million per year

Half a billion dollars a year. That’s the amount CASQ is seeking from political parties this Wednesday to revive the sport in Quebec.

Posted at 6:45 am.

What?

CASQ. Alliance for the Future of Sport in Quebec. This is a new lobby created by several Quebec organizations. Its spectrum is wide. It goes from SportsQuébec to the National Sports Institute via Pôle Sports HEC Montreal. All share the same objective: that sport becomes a “real government priority”.

So, CASQ is asking for 500 million. That’s a big number. It strikes the imagination. That’s nearly three times the current budget the Quebec government allocates to sports.

Is it too much? Not enough? I do not know. I don’t read before bed about the finance executives of Gymnastics Quebec or Waterpolo Quebec. However, I’m pretty sure the Quebec Sports Network is clearly lacking.

  • It does not include playgrounds, swimming pools and arenas;
  • Rental costs of boxes are increasing;
  • and registration fees;
  • Inflation has driven up transport and material costs;
  • Trainees are underpaid;
  • Referees, ditto.

Many barriers to sports training. Also, Quebecers don’t do enough sports. I didn’t say this. Not CASQ. It is the government.

“In Quebec, the proportion of the population exercising the recommended minimum levels of physical activity for its age group is insufficient,” says the latest provincial budget. “Despite the benefits of regular physical activity, this habit is not very common in the daily lives of Quebecers. Epidemics and health measures have increased the problem in the past year. »

The statistics are devastating. In fact.

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According to the latest Quebec Population Health SurveyReleased in 2021, almost half of the Quebec population (45%) said they were doing less sport since the start of the pandemic.

The worst rates are among young people: 58% of 15-24 year olds have reduced their physical activity. Already, we were going too far. Before the pandemic, Quebecers were the lowest class in the country. Only one in three teenage girls here is considered “active.”

Now imagine that.

The CAQ government has pledged to invest 113 million over five years to stimulate the sport’s relaunch. The timely help was “very much appreciated,” notes Julie Gosselin, president of SportsQuébec and spokeswoman for CASQ. “But even if we are entitled to a good increase with the CAQ, it is still a very low number. »

CASQ accounts for about 1% of the expenditure of the Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports. “We want it to be 4%,” says Julie Gosselin.

It’s a big leap, isn’t it?

“Yes, we do it four times. But four times is not much. We have a big catch-up. The budget has not been codified in the last 35 years,” he maintains, while acknowledging the increase in budgets since the CAQ regime.

Julie Gosselin compares the worlds of sport and culture. “We love our cultural colleagues. We find them inspiring. They have an annual budget of 1 billion. Their recovery program is 225 million. This is more than our annual budget! »

What will this 500 million be used for?

First, making sports training easier. “We would never want a participant to say, because of the pandemic, because of inflation, that he can no longer practice a sport because it has become too expensive. Registration costs must be confirmed,” explains Julie Gosselin.

We want to pay better for coaches and referees. In many team sports, recruitment is a key issue. A lack of officials forced the cancellation of dozens of hockey games last winter. “We have a difficult time there. If we don’t do something quickly, it will be difficult to practice some sports. The equation is simple: no coaches, no referees, no games, fewer participants. »

Sports federations want better funding. And no, not all of them manage big budgets like Hockey Canada. During epidemics, many people survived using hand grease provided by one, two, or three caring employees.

And what about the big piece? Infrastructure? It is unusual for a town the size of Saint-Thérese with a population of 25,000 to not have a stadium. Or that the metropolis of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace has only two public halls, where more people live than the whole of Abidjan. It’s a monstrous file, so imposing that CASQ excluded it from the 500 million calculation. “It will require more than $1 billion in investments,” predicts Julie Gosselin.

Large sums. Big problems. That’s why CASQ wants – and with good reason – to make sport a priority for the next government. “During the epidemic, we talked a lot about the importance of sport, Julie Gosselin concludes. But, it was not reflected in the budget. »

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