Federal-Provincial-Territorial Conference of Ministers responsible for Fitness, Recreation and Sport

NEWS RELEASE – Conference of Federal and Provincial-Territorial Ministers Responsible for Fitness, Recreation and Sport

Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, February 19, 1999 -- Federal - Provincial / Territorial Ministers responsible for fitness, recreation and sport met on February 19, 1999 on the eve of the Canada Games which will begin in Corner Brook tomorrow. Issues discussed include the future of the Canada Games; initiatives underway to reach the goal of reducing physical inactivity by 10% by the year 2003; initiatives to improve access to sport, physical activity and recreation for Aboriginal peoples; the elimination of harassment and abuse in sport and recreation; and ways of excluding amateur combative sports from the Criminal Code provisions.

The Ministers reaffirmed their long term support for the Canada Games as an important Canadian sport institution. They also affirmed their support for the current frequency and hosting rotation of the Canada Games. As well, the Ministers urged the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to increase its coverage of amateur sport.

Ministers gave an update on a number of ongoing activities related to the initiative they undertook at the 1997 conference to reduce physical inactivity by 10% by the year 2003.

Ministers agreed that partnerships with their colleagues in other departments within their jurisdictions, as well as discussions with non-government agencies, need to be undertaken with a view to removing barriers to physical activity and recreation faced by children and youth living in poverty.

Ministers discussed current research related to physical activity levels of Canadian children and youth and directed their officials to develop a discussion paper that would be the basis for the agenda of a Recreation Roundtable on children and youth to be held in 2000.

In an effort to improve access to sport for Aboriginal peoples, the Ministers reviewed a discussion paper prepared by the Aboriginal Sport Circle. Each jurisdiction agreed to develop its own approach and funding level: to advance Aboriginal sport through coaching development; to the establishment of Aboriginal sport organizations or the equivalent; and to Aboriginal team participation in the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG). The Ministers demonstrated their commitment to the NAIG by adopting a number of principles as a basis for developing a multi-party funding agreement when the Games are hosted in Canada.

The Ministers also discussed the importance of improving access to recreation and physical activity initiatives for Aboriginal peoples. The Ministers endorsed an upcoming Recreation Roundtable on Aboriginal recreation and physical activity planned for November 1999. The Ministers supported a recommendation that the findings of the Roundtable be considered at their next conference.

To assist in the elimination of harassment and abuse in recreation, sport and physical activity, the Ministers agreed to emphasize prevention through education and awareness strategies. As well, the Ministers agreed to encourage national and provincial fitness, sport and recreation organizations to develop further resource materials and increase vigilance against harassment and abuse.

The Ministers also discussed ways to exclude amateur combative sports from Criminal Code of Canada provisions aimed at deterring "no holds barred" combat such as ultimate fighting. The Ministers agreed to solicit the support of their justice colleagues in advancing an amendment to the Criminal Code aimed at protecting legitimate amateur combative sports from prosecution under the prize fight provision.

The Ministers also discussed the Physical Activity Benchmark Program that was created to enable governments to measure their progress in meeting the 10% physical inactivity target. Ministers recommend that a portion of the newly committed Canadian government resources for health research and reporting be designated for studying the benefits, and measuring the impacts of preventive health initiatives related to physical activity, in particular, for children and youth.

Presentations were made on the launch and distribution of Canada's Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living and the work in progress to develop Guide supplements for older adults (to be released May, 1999) and children/youth (to be released in the year 2000). Many provinces and territories have further developed tools and resources for use in their own jurisdictions, aimed at increasing physical activity.

Ministers asked that strategies be developed to improve communications and linkages in sport-related activities between national and provincial / territorial sport bodies and colleges and universities.

The Ministers will next meet in London, Ontario in 2001.

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