Federal, provincial and territorial Ministers responsible for Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation identified sport and recreation infrastructure as their number one priority during their annual conference in Regina on August 4 and 5. Improved infrastructure will advance sport and physical activity in communities across the country while addressing critical health challenges and strengthening Canadian communities.

Ministers recognize the direct connection between physical activity, sport participation and healthy communities with the provision of, and access to, sport and recreation infrastructure. Ministers directed officials to develop by November 30, 2005, the parameters of a long-term national approach dedicated to sport and recreation infrastructure based on information shared between jurisdictions and to be implemented bilaterally between the Provincial/Territorial Governments and the Government of Canada.

The findings of the Conference Board of Canada report entitled Strengthening Canada: The Socio-Economic Benefits of Sport Participation in Canada were presented to the Ministers. The report outlines the positive effects of sport participation and physical activity on economic performance, health, skills development, and social cohesion.

The Ministers concluded that health promotion through physical activity, sport and recreation, in conjunction with the education system, needs to be better integrated in each jurisdiction in order to maximize the benefits for Canadians. They will encourage the development of mechanisms from the community level to the national level that will facilitate better collaboration and improve program efficiency. Recognition of this priority was reflected in the First Ministers' Meeting of September 2004, when they gave their collective support to the integrated strategies, such as Healthy Living, development of Public Health goals, and advancing work on Healthy Schools.*

Ministers affirmed their leadership role as key partners in the efforts to promote the health of Canadians through physical activity and sport participation in Canada. Provincial and territorial Ministers adopted a resolution urging the federal government to commit to multi-year bilateral agreements on physical activity, starting as soon as 2006.

Given that physical inactivity costs the Canadian health care system at least $2.1B annually, Ministers have committed to continuing work under the Collaborative Plan of Action, in support of the goal of increasing by at least 10 percentage points the number of active Canadians.*

In addition to ongoing monitoring of physical activity levels, Ministers have agreed to build on the success of the F-P/T SummerActive campaign, directing officials to develop a complementary WinterActive program.*

Ministers agreed to proceed with the implementation of a new approach to sport and physical activity development called long-term athlete development (LTAD) in consultation with national, provincial and territorial sport organizations. Through the development of physical literacy (fundamental skills such as throwing, running and jumping), the LTAD models will help to develop a lifelong involvement of Canadians in physical activity and sport participation as well as developing future athletes.

Ministers, together with the national sport community, set out performance targets for Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. These national performance targets call for Canada to rank as the top country in medal count at the Olympics and in the top three countries at the Paralympics. Ministers have agreed to work with the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee so that the Olympic and Paralympic Games are truly Canada's games.

Ministers expressed satisfaction with the implementation of the Canadian Sport Policy and governments' progress on the federal, provincial and territorial priorities for collaborative action over the period 2002-2005. The next step in its implementation will be the establishment and implementation of a new set of actions for 2006-2009. These new actions will contribute to increased participation and success of Canadian athletes at major international events, and fulfill Canada's vision of becoming a leading sport nation.

Ministers endorsed the Canadian Coach and Sport Leadership Mandate that will enhance coaching development for the benefit of Canadians of all ages participating in organized sport for recreational purposes or competitive levels.

Ministers agreed to work towards achieving the establishment and support of national and provincial/territorial governing bodies, respectively responsible for Aboriginal sport, physical activity and recreation. The Ministers also agreed to review the Canada Games program to consider equity and access for meaningful inclusion of Aboriginal peoples, in the context of long-term athlete development principles.

On the Canada Games, the Ministers agreed that the existing framework was outdated and directed officials to prepare recommendations by June 2006 for a new financial framework that will ensure a better relevance to current and future fiscal environments, as well as a new hosting rotation cycle.

Ministers extended their best wishes to the athletes participating in the 2005 Canada Summer Games, starting tomorrow in Regina. They also acknowledged 2005 as the International Year of Sport and Physical Education as declared by the United Nations.

The next meeting of Ministers is scheduled for June 2006.

*While concurring with the objectives of these initiatives, Quebec is pursuing the implementation of its own action plan in these sectors.

Randy King
Communications Consultant
Saskatchewan Culture, Youth and Recreation
Tel.: (306) 536-6341
phac-aspc.gc

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