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New report says NSOs need $104 million boost in annual funding to stave off crisis

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The 61 organizations that govern amateur sports across the country are in financial peril if the federal government does not resolve a decades-long funding crisis by increasing its financial support, according to a new report.

Funding for national sport organizations (NSOs) has been unchanged since 2005, according to a study commissioned by the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee and carried out by financial consulting firm Deloitte.

The study is expected to be released Tuesday. TSN obtained an advance copy.

Deloitte wrote in its study that a $104 million increase in annual federal funding for NSOs is needed to avoid a substantial reduction in services and programs run by the organizations.

A five-year forecast shows NSOs will experience a deficit of $134 million, Deloitte said.

Canadian NSOs have struggled in recent years amid deteriorating finances. While federal government funding for NSOs has remained unchanged for nearly two decades, the costs of adequate travel, logistics, food and training for athletes have skyrocketed.

A few months before the Summer Games in Paris, NSOs, including Cycling Canada and Climbing Canada, laid off staff due to their financial crisis, according to sources familiar with the matter.

‘It’s disastrous and I think there is a very real possibility that some of us will be forced to close our doors if we don’t get government help,’ NSO executive director says at TSN.

The executive said he did not have permission from his board to criticize the federal government, which provides the vast majority of the NSO’s annual revenue.

Minister of Sport and Physical Activity Carla Qualtrough speaks about the steps the government is taking to improve safety in sport, Monday, December 11, 2023 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press)

Federal Sports Minister Carla Qualtrough declined to comment, a spokesperson said.

Canadian Olympic Committee president David Shoemaker said in an interview with TSN that the COC and CPC commissioned the study because they wanted to approach the federal government with concrete data when it asked for more funding.

“For the most part, for national sports organizations that rely on federal funding, this has become very serious and unsustainable,” Shoemaker said. “I worry about what will happen with many of these organizations after Paris.

“Normally, with the Olympics just a few months away, we’re all concerned about the incredible performances and want to talk about stories like the Canadian women’s soccer team defending their Olympic gold medal… we’re a little reluctant to say, “Hey, Canada. , there’s something underlying that’s a bit serious… If you want this to continue, then we need to add a significant amount of funding.

Shoemaker said the Australian government contributes twice as much federal funding for amateur sports as Canada, while the British government funds triple the amount.

According to the Deloitte study, 90 percent of NSOs rely on federal funding as their primary source of revenue, while NSO purchasing power (due to inflation) has fallen 33 percent since the last increase in the funding in 2005.

Volleyball Canada president Mark Eckert said his federation has been financially stable since making the decision in 2018 to take a page from for-profit businesses. This means that volleyball players on the under-21, under-19 and under-17 national teams pay between $8,000 and $10,000 per year to make the national team. Eckert said Volleyball Canada now offers human resources assistance to other struggling NSOs.

At Canada Basketball, general manager Michael Bartlett said that even if the federation sends a “dream team” of men’s national team players to compete in the Paris Olympics this summer, the situation could be “resolved.”

Unless the federal government increases its funding for NSOs, it is doubtful that Canada Basketball can afford to send its local NBA stars to the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

In 2021, the federal government provided $5.1 million to Canada Basketball, or 52 percent of its $9.9 million budget. This year, the federal government is providing $3.9 million, or 28 percent of the federation’s $16 million budget.

Over the past few years, Canada Basketball has drawn on its cash reserves to fund national team programs. By 2028, those reserves will be exhausted, Bartlett said.

“We dream of winning multiple medals at the Olympics… but can we continue this dream beyond Paris and to the Olympics in Los Angeles?” » Bartlett said. “Unfortunately, I think what you can see, even from our own agenda, is that our dream may not be able to come true unless our government at least keeps pace with inflation. ”

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