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Sport Matters Group – OTTAWA – A coalition of over 80 sport, physical activity and recreation organizations under the umbrella of the Sport Matters Group is urging the federal government to make amendments which include an exemption to sport sponsorship from Bill S-228: An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children).

In its current form, the Bill would significantly shrink the available sponsorship opportunities and prevent partnerships with brands that have some of the most established track records of investing in sport, physical activity and recreation. Lack of sponsorship would result in increased costs, and fewer children and youth being able to access sport programs that are ultimately intended to help combat obesity. Sponsorships like Timbits Soccer and Hockey and the McDonald’s atoMc and McDo hockey programs provide critical funding without which sport and recreation programs would be difficult to operate.

“Sponsorship creates real opportunities for kids of all ages and backgrounds to get involved in sport”, says Sport Matters Group Senior Leader, Lindsay Hugenholtz Sherk. “It promotes and celebrates participation and excellence in sport. It enables sport activities to be more available and more inclusive. It encourages collaboration between sport organizations, governments and the private sector – with a shared goal of improving the health of our young people. These opportunities will be jeopardised if Bill S-228 passes in its current form.”

Sport organizations across Canada fully support the goals of the new legislation and applaud the leadership of Senator Nancy Greene-Raine, one of Canada’s great Olympians, who is spearheading the campaign. They share her desire to see a steady decline in the number of overweight and obese young people in Canada through a combination of better nutritional choices and greater involvement in physical activity and sport. Sport is widely recognized as a powerful way for people of all ages to improve their health and overall well-being.

However, Sport in Canada is significantly reliant on sponsorship. Without private sector funding of sport organizations, events and athletes, many would lose commercial and financial viability. Over $1B is spent on sport sponsorship in Canada, with the food and beverage category as one of the most active.

“Sponsorship has played an integral role in my journey to the top of the podium at the Olympic Games”, says Canadian wrestler, Erica Wiebe.  “At the community level, it meant I had access to a community soccer program with proper equipment and coaching.  At the high-performance level, sponsorship was the difference between just getting by and achieving personal bests”, she adds. “As a role model, I care deeply about the health of all Canadians and specifically, tomorrow’s leaders. I am sharing my story today to convey the harmful repercussions Bill S-228 could have on sport and its participants at all levels, and as a result, the health of the very children it is trying to protect.”

The Sport Matters Group, represented by Lindsay Hugenholtz Sherk and Erica Wiebe, presented to the Standing Committee on Health (HESA) on April 23rd asking that sport sponsorship be exempt from Bill S-228 at the community, provincial and national levels. You can read the full Brief submitted to HESA here:

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About Sport Matters Group
The Sport Matters Group is a coalition of over 80 sport, physical activity and recreation organizations who together promote values-based sport at all levels of the Canadian sport system. 

For more information, please contact:
Lindsay Hugenholtz Sherk, Senior Leader
Sport Matters Group
613) 521-9862 Ext 3301