OTTAWA, March 22, 2017 /CNW/ - The Canadian Paralympic Committee and Canadian Paralympians are pleased with and grateful for the investment in sport announced in the 2017 federal budget this afternoon, in particular the 18 per cent increase to the Athlete Assistance Program of $25 million over five years, ongoing.
The Athlete Assistance Program (AAP) seeks to relieve some of the financial pressures associated with preparing for and participating in international sport and assists high-performance Canadian athletes to combine their sport and academic or working careers while training intensively in pursuit of world-class performances.
The funding amount for the Athlete Assistance Program had been unchanged for the past 12 years. With this new budget, high performance sport will see an increase in the monthly stipends that eligible national team athletes receive, currently set at between $900 and $1,500.
"On behalf of the Canadian Paralympic athlete community, we are very grateful for the support of the Government of Canada, especially through the Athlete Assistance Program and we are thrilled to hear today of the increased investment in the AAP," said Chelsey Gotell, Chair of the Canadian Paralympic Committee Athletes' Council and a three-time Paralympian in swimming and 12-time Paralympic medallist. The Athletes' Council is an elected group of current and retired Paralympic athletes (within the past eight years) that serves as the collective voice, advocating the best interests of Canada's Paralympic athletes and the Paralympic movement within Canada.
"As a Paralympian, it is a privilege and an honour to compete for Canada on the international stage," added Gotell. "National team athletes don't do it for the money. We do it because we love our sport, we want to push our limits, and we have a passion to be the best we can be. Our business is sport and our job is to win medals. This increased investment has exciting potential to help retain athletes in the sport system for a longer period of time, while also helping new athletes by providing resources to train at a world-class level sooner and longer – which will enhance ultimately Canada's performance at the Paralympic Games."
In addition, the budget detailed $19 million for aboriginal sport and $1.34 billion over the next 10 years for provincial and territorial sport, recreation and culture infrastructure development. Canadian Paralympic Committee President Gaétan Tardif echoed the applause from the Paralympic community.
"Our Paralympic athletes and coaches are role models for all Canadians and play a key part in generating national pride and inspiring more Canadians to be physically active," said Tardif. "Minister Qualtrough and this Government took the time to ask what was important, they listened and responded, and for this we are most grateful. We believe in accessibility, inclusivity and sport for all, from playground to podium. Thank you to the Government of Canada for this important new funding and for their deep belief in the value of sport."
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