Progress Report
Game ON – The Ontario Government’s Sport Plan

Minister's Message

Minister Daiene Vernile

As Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, I am thrilled that my ministry has taken a leading role in developing a dynamic, safe and inclusive sport system in which people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities can participate.

Engaging in sport and recreation keeps us healthy, and teaches us important lessons about team work, tolerance, and respect, and highlights the importance of hard work and commitment. Through the three pillars of participation, development and excellence, I want to ensure that each and every Ontarian has the opportunity to compete, increase their level of fitness, or simply make new friends through participation in sport.

Since the launch of the plan in 2015, our government has made significant progress in all three priority areas of Game ON and has initiated or completed all initiatives identified in the plan. This progress was made possible thanks to our strong partnerships with Provincial and Multi-Sport Organizations, coaches, volunteers, officials and athletes, and my Advisory Panel on Sport. A successful amateur sport system couldn’t function without them, and I look forward to working together as we continue to move forward.

Promoting and investing in sport and active living helps to build strong bodies and strong minds, and inspires our next generation of athletes. I am proud to be leading Ontario on its path toward a best-in-class sport system that will be sustainable for generations to come.

With kind regards,

Daiene Vernile
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport

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Game ON - The Ontario Government’s Sport Plan, launched as a legacy of the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games, is the province’s plan for supporting amateur sport in Ontario. Through collaboration with stakeholders, the Plan continues to better align the sport sector to deliver actions under the three priorities of participation, development and excellence.

This progress report provides an update on what has been accomplished since we issued the Year One Progress Report in December 2016. As of March 2018, actions have now been completed or are underway in every one of the 17 initiatives outlined in the Plan.

The Minister’s Advisory Panel on Sport has played an important role in the implementation of these initiatives. The Minister appointed the Panel in December 2015 to facilitate stakeholder engagement, identify issues in the sector, and provide expert advice to advance the Plan. This year, they focused their efforts on providing the ministry with advice on how to improve opportunities and support for officials, celebrate excellence in Ontario’s amateur sport system, and support parasport participation.

As committed to in the Plan, the ministry has held an annual Sport Symposium since 2016 that brings together Ontario’s leaders in the field of sport to report back on the results of implementation and discuss current issues and trends. The 2017 Symposium was attended by more than 110 unique organizations and 84 percent of respondents to a post event survey indicated their attendance experience as highly satisfactory.

“(Game ON) is intended to be a living document, adapting over time to specific events and changing circumstances. What will remain consistent is our three priorities—Participation, Development, Excellence—and our commitment and leadership to putting Ontario athletes first.”


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Advancing Opportunities for Women and Girls

Improving women and girls' participation in sport has benefits beyond the sport and recreation sector. It can lead to higher self-confidence, better grades, and enhanced career opportunities.

Since the launch of Game ON, Ontario has made a commitment to work with sport sector delivery partners at all levels to close the gender gap and remove obstacles to lifelong participation in sport for women and girls. In its first year, the Minister’s Advisory Panel on Sport was tasked with investigating opportunities to advance women and girls in sport in each of the three priority areas of the Plan. Advancing opportunities for women and girls in sport continues to be a distinct commitment that we support, track, and measure above and beyond Game ON commitments.

On International Women’s Day in 2017, Premier Kathleen Wynne and former Tourism, Culture and Sport Minister Eleanor McMahon called on all sport organizations across the province to match the province's commitment to promote equal and fair opportunities for women and girls in sport and recreation. The government committed to developing an Action Plan for Women and Girls in Sport which was released in July 2017 at the Sport Ministers Federal-Provincial/Territorial (FPT) meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Action Plan outlines a comprehensive series of 21 actions intended to increase the number of women and girls who are athletes, coaches, sport administrators, and leaders at schools, universities and communities across the province.

“It’s time to create optimal conditions and systems to support women and girls of different ages, abilities and backgrounds to be engaged in sport and recreation.”


Provincial Sport Organizations (PSOs) and Multi-Sport Organizations (MSOs) Leadership

All 60 PSOs/MSOs that are recognized to deliver sport programming in Ontario are required to have policies in place to ensure equal access and fair opportunities for women and girls. In addition, approximately 78 percent of PSO/MSOs are now delivering programs/initiatives for under-represented populations in Ontario, including women and girls.


Changing the Game – Changing the Conversation (CTG-CTC) was a pilot initiative dedicated to increasing the number of qualified female coaches in Ontario across all sports. The program includes the development of a mentorship model for female coaches and a resource hub for apprentice coaches to build and enhance their toolkits. It provides a broad pool of qualified female coaches from which colleges, universities, and PSO/MSOs can hire, develop, and promote. The Coaches Association of Ontario (CAO) successfully recruited over 250 women into the program.

This program will continue to provide mentorship programs for female coaches to increase gender equity, challenge bias, and eliminate barriers women face at work, at home, and in their communities with committed funding through the Ontario’s government’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Strategy.

Student-Athlete Sport Organizations

The Ontario Federation of School Athletics Association (OFSAA), the Ontario University Athletics (OUA), and the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) deliver sport programs to over 35,000 athletes across Ontario and have come together to identify common goals and priorities including women and girls. These associations are taking steps to ensure that there is equal representation on boards and sport advisory committees and have established female mentorship programs for athletes and coaches. They are committed to increasing opportunities for women and girls to participate in all aspects of sport.

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Game ON Commitments

The ministry continued to advance the delivery of Game ON commitments and all initiatives announced in Game ON are complete or are underway.

Priority One – Participation

Focuses on providing opportunities for all Ontarians to get involved in organized sport in a safe and positive environment.

The ministry, in consultation with the sector, has taken action in a number of areas to achieve this priority.

Support for Indigenous People in Sport

In July 2017, Ontario hosted the 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG). The Games hosted competitions in 14 sport disciplines, welcomed 5,000 participants, and was supported by 2,000 volunteers. Team Ontario finished third with 137 medals, including 51 gold, 42 silver, and 44 bronze. This was the first time that the Games were held in Ontario and generated an economic impact of $21.9 million within the province.

In preparing for the Games, the Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario (ASWCO) held over 60 separate tryouts for Aboriginal Team Ontario. Attended by over 1,400 athletes, the Council selected a team of 550 participants to compete at the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games.

In 2017, the ministry rolled out the Youth Cultural Camps initiative across Ontario to engage Indigenous youth in cultural activities and land-based activities to promote awareness of traditional knowledge. Since the program rolled out in June 2017, over 40 camps incorporating seasonal cultural teachings have been delivered across the province through ten Indigenous partner organizations. The ministry is investing $4.5 million over two years (2017-2019) to support these community-based camps.

Rowan’s Law

On March 6, 2018, Ontario passed ground-breaking concussion safety legislation to protect amateur athletes and make sport safer on the field and at school.

Rowan's Law (Concussion Safety), 2018 makes Ontario a national leader in concussion management and prevention by establishing mandatory requirements that call for annual reviews of concussion awareness resources, removal-from-sport and return-to-sport protocols, and a concussion code of conduct that would set out rules of behaviour to minimize concussions while playing sport.

In honour of Rowan Stringer, the 17-year-old rugby player whose death resulted from sustaining multiple concussions, the proposed legislation also establishes the last Wednesday in September as "Rowan's Law Day".

Ontario is the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass concussion safety legislation, setting a precedent for sport legislation across the country. The province will continue to work closely with PSOs/MSOs, key medical experts, researchers, and sport leaders to ensure the smooth implementation of this legislation.

Amateur Combative Sport

Ontario committed to clarifying the legal status of amateur combative sport and working with the combative sport community to develop and implement appropriate health and safety measures. Effective July 1, 2017, Ontario designated a list of 11 amateur combative sports from which contests are exempt from the Criminal Code of Canada Prize Fighting Offence, including: boxing, grappling, jiu-jitsu, judo, karate, kickboxing, muaythai, pankration, taekwondo, wrestling, and wushu. Contests in these 11 sports can now be held under the supervision of a PSO recognized under the ministry’s Sport Recognition Policy. These measures are in place to ensure combative sport competitions follow standard sport competition rules, safety protocols, and age appropriate programs.

Ontario-Parasport Strong

As a legacy of the 2017 Invictus Games, Ontario launched the Ontario – Parasport Strong strategy. Through this strategy, Ontario invested $820,000 towards the long-term development of parasport athletes and advanced coach training and leadership development. The strategy included the Ontario-Parasport Strong Fund, a grant-based program available to recognized PSO/MSOs and Student-Athlete Sport Organizations to support the development of parasport programming and build system capacity. In addition, it supported key initiatives of the Ontario Parasport Collective (comprised of 22 leaders with a common parasport vision) in the areas of parasport capacity building and education, including: a physical literacy pilot project in conjunction with the Canadian Paralympic Committee, support to the Coaches Association of Ontario to recruit and train coaches and technical officials, and an investment in high performance enhancements to parasport through the Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario.

In March 2018, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Ontario government, announced a $2.4 million investment over 5 years – the largest grant in the foundation’s history – to support the continued work of the Ontario Parasport Collective. This support will continue to build an aligned system so that all individuals with a disability can participate fully in sport and recreation in Ontario.

Sport Recognition Policy

In 2017, the ministry implemented the revised Sport Recognition Policy (SRP), whereby 60 PSOs/MSOs were evaluated and recognized to meet SRP standards.

The revised SRP ensures that PSOs/MSOs recognized by the government operate in a safe and effective manner, follow national standards, offer high-quality sport programs, and have certified coaches and officials. Recognized PSO/MSOs are eligible to apply for government programs, including the Ontario Amateur Sport Fund – a multi-year funding program designed to support the three pillars identified in Game ON: Participation, Development and Excellence.

Priority Two – Development

Focuses on ensuring athletes receive the right support as their skills develop.

The ministry, in consultation with the sector, has taken action in a number of areas to achieve this priority.

Ontario Amateur Sport Fund (OASF)

The Ontario Amateur Sport Fund was launched in 2017. The OASF took a single-window funding approach and consolidated the Base Funding Program, Sport Priority Fund, and Team Ontario Development Grant. Over $8 million was provided to recognized PSOs/MSOs, three Student-Athlete Sport Organizations, and Parasport Ontario in 2017. This new program supports a streamlined and efficient approach that reduces administrative burden and provides stakeholders with multi-year funding that allows organizations to more effectively plan for the future.

Games Ontario Program

The Games Ontario Program continued to deliver on its commitment to provide multi-sport competition experiences for individuals of all ages and abilities, and provide our athletes with quality competitive experiences and opportunities to pursue their sport goals.

In 2017, Ontario delivered the Ontario Parasport Games, hosted by the City of Brantford and County of Brant, and the Ontario 55+ Winter Games, hosted by the Town of Cobourg. In 2018, Ontario is hosting the Ontario Winter Games in Orillia, the Ontario Summer Games in London, and Ontario 55+ Summer Games in Mississauga.

Collectively, these five events give nearly 7,000 participants from 45 PSOs and MSOs the opportunity to participate in 17 days of competition, supported by 2,800 volunteers.

Since assuming responsibilities for the Games Program in 2016, the Games have grown to become a must attend event for fans of amateur sport and continues to support municipalities across Ontario. PACHI the porcupine, a legacy of the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games, supports the athletes and coaches on Team Ontario and has become a widely recognizable figure at all Ontario Games.

Officials Support

Over the past year, the Minister’s Advisory Panel on Sport was asked to focus their efforts on providing the ministry with advice on how to improve opportunities and support for officials. The ministry hosted a workshop that included approximately 30 participants from the sport sector to consult with sport sector stakeholders on the key issues/gaps in officiating and to seek input on a proposed provincial vision and goals for sport officials in Ontario. The ministry continues to use the feedback from these sessions, and additional engagement with key sport stakeholders, to inform an action plan for supporting sport officials in Ontario.

Priority Three – Excellence

Focuses on ensuring athletes can pursue excellence in high-performance sport.

The ministry, in consultation with the sector, has taken action in a number of areas to achieve this priority.

Quest For Gold Modernization

Through Game ON, Ontario committed to working with the sport sector to modernize the Quest for Gold athlete support program. Ontario is proud that its athletes made up 31 percent of Canada’s team at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, and 38 percent at the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games. They have made all Ontarians proud with their podium successes.

We want to continue providing athletes with support to reach their full potential. The ministry established a working group with representatives from the sector comprising of athletes, coaches, PSOs/MSOs, and high performance experts to ensure the modernized program is successful in ensuring Ontario athletes continue to represent at international competitions.

Program changes will come into effect in 2018-19 that will continue to provide Ontario athletes with direct financial assistance in addition to providing training and development opportunities through PSOs/MSOs to support more athletes.

Ontario Sport Hosting Program

In Game ON, Ontario committed to building on the infrastructure and volunteer legacies of the Pan Am/Parapan American Games to seek out sport hosting opportunities that continue to utilize the infrastructure built for the Games. Between January 2017 and April 2018, Ontario supported 29 events in 23 different sports. Of those, 16 events were international and 13 were national and held in 14 communities across Ontario. Collectively, these competitions brought over 9,000 athletes to Ontario to compete at the highest levels and provided Ontario athletes with an opportunity to compete at home with the best competitors nationally and internationally.

In addition, nine events occurred at six facilities used for the Pan/Parapan American Games, which continues to demonstrate the ongoing legacy value of these facilities to the Ontario sport community.

Invictus Games Toronto 2017

Toronto hosted the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 in September. Over 500 competitors from 17 nations competed in 12 adaptive sports. The Games provided an opportunity for Canadians to commemorate and honour its soldiers while celebrating the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Team Canada won 48 medals, including 18 gold, 17 silver and 13 bronze. The Invictus Games provided a worldwide platform to highlight parasport and athletes with disabilities. Over 75,000 spectators attended competitions in Toronto, while live streaming of the event resulted in a further 4 million views from 111 countries.

2017 Canada Summer Games

Winnipeg, Manitoba hosted the 2017 Canada Summer Games in July. The Games featured 16 sports, and welcomed over 4,000 athletes and coaches and more than 20,000 visitors. Team Ontario placed first, bringing home 86 gold medals, 65 silver and 59 bronze.

Team Ontario was comprised of 353 athletes at the Games and a new record was set by Ontario athlete Hanna Henderson who won 11 medals in swimming.

2021 Canada Summer Games

It was announced that the Niagara Region will host the 2021 Canada Summer Games, the largest multi-sport amateur competition in Canada. 13 communities will come together to collectively host the Games.

In the lead up to the Games, and with support from Ontario’s Sport Hosting program, the Niagara Region, in partnership with Basketball Canada, will be hosting the under 18 FIBA Americas Championship. As a legacy of this event, the equipment will be available for the 2021 Canada Games. Welcoming the Games to Ontario means increased economic activity for hotels, restaurants and other businesses.

Sport Awards

The Ontario Sport Awards will be part of the 2018 Ontario Sport Symposium and are crucial to continue to celebrate excellence and recognize individuals and organizations that deliver superior athletic performance or make significant contributions to advance the sport system in Ontario. The 2018 Ontario Sport Awards will include three award categories for Leadership in Inclusive Participation, System Design Excellence, and Ontario Provincial Athlete of the year. Winners will be announced at the symposium in April.

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Conclusion and Moving Forward

Our government appreciates the importance of supporting Ontario’s athletes. Athletes are community role models and help promote active, healthy lives. Investing in their development and providing them with more opportunities to succeed is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up.

In 2018, the Minister’s Advisory Panel on Sport is continuing to focus their advice on how to improve opportunities and support for officials, celebrate excellence in Ontario’s amateur sport system, and support parasport participation.

In the months ahead we will move forward on a number of key initiatives outlined in Game ON including:

  • The ministry will seek the input and advice from across the sport community on how to move forward with implementation activities on concussion management across Ontario.

  • The ministry will continue to work with officials to develop a vision and action plan for improving support for sport officials in Ontario.

  • The government will continue to support the mentorship program for women in coaching and will include a focus on women and girls in a physical literacy strategy.

  • The ministry continues to work with the Ontario Parasport Collective as it builds on the initiatives funded through the ministry’s legacy.

  • The ministry will continue to engage with the sport community on how to implement the modernized Quest for Gold program.

  • Finally the ministry will begin seeking input on what actions should be considered in the next phase of the Game ON Sport Plan.

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