Editor, The News:
Government support of sport and physical activity is an important topic when electing Canada’s federal, provincial and municipal political leaders.
Given the impact sport and physical activity have on the quality of life in communities across the country, politicians should include this in their platforms.
Eighteen per cent of Canadians belong to a sport group in some capacity, and 39 per cent take part in more than 250,000 sport events in Canada every year.
With more than 33,000 sport organizations, and 5.3 million sport and recreation volunteers (more than any other sector) there is no question there is a well-deserved place for sport in Canadian political discussions.
The benefits of sport, its positive impact on physical, mental and psycho-social well-being, are obvious, but equally meaningful are its links to decreased crime and health-care costs.
Sport programs have been shown to help youth develop pro-social behaviour, which reduces instances of vandalism and underage drinking.
This is backed by 92 per cent of Canadians who believe that community sport can have a positive influence in the lives of youth.
Research estimates that direct health care costs due to physical inactivity range between $2.1 and $5.3 billion per year.
Sport and physical activity can and should be considered preventative health care services that are just as, if not more, important than curative health care. Health care, crime and quality of living are common topics on political platforms.
It is vital that politicians engage citizens in improving these areas through sport and physical activity.
Political discussion should be initiated and maintained regarding investments in sport and recreational infrastructure and programming that are accessible to all Canadians, no matter their ability, income, age or residence.