Canada’s athletes are getting a raise.
The Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, Kent Hehr, made the announcement in Calgary on Friday that the Canadian government has increased funding to the Athlete Assistant Program. Annual funding will increase by 18% – the first increase since 2004 – up $5 million to bring the total to $33 million.
“Our athletes have been and continue to be sources of inspiration for all Canadians, especially our youth,” Hehr said in a media release. “I am proud of the direct support that the Government of Canada has provided to our athletes over the last 40 years, including today’s new investment.”
Athletes will receive as much as $1,765 a month (up $265) in the case of senior carded athletes. Those with development cards will receive $1,060, up from $160.
“For many athletes, athlete assistance funding from the government is the only source of income they have while training to compete on behalf of our country,” said Jeff Christie, a two-time Olympian and Chair of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Athlete Commission. “This increase to the Athlete Assistance Program will allow athletes to have less financial concern and concentrate more on training as they prepare for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”
“I train and compete because I love my sport,” Tammy Cunnington, a Rio 2016 Paralympian, and three-time Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games medallist added. “I also do it because I am proud to represent Canada on the world stage. However, it is undeniable that this increased funding will help me spend more time doing what I love.”
Approximately 1,900 carded athletes receive funding for costs associated with their sports, as well as living expenses. For some athletes, it relieves the financial pressure associated with participating in international competitions. For high-performance athletes, it helps them get to the next level.
Canada equalled our country’s all-time best showing at a non-boycotted Summer Olympics at Rio 2016, totalling 22 medals. The last Winter Games in Sochi saw Canada finish with 24 medals, just one less than our best-ever showing at Vancouver 2010.
Less than four months remain before the next Winter Olympics, which begin February 9 in PyeongChang.