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Return to Sport: Rising Costs the Main Barrier to Sport Access for Canadian Kids

Return to Sport: Rising Costs the Main Barrier to Sport Access for Canadian Kids

Published 04-14-23

Submitted by Canadian Tire

JumpStart State of the Report: Child dressed for lacrosse.

COVID-19 has had far-reaching and long-lasting impact on sports and recreation across Canada. In 2020 the impact was immediately felt, as research showed Canadian kids lost over 277 million hours of sport participation1. While last year 19% of parents reported their children participating in more sport—up seven points from 2021—complicating factors from the long wake of the pandemic, including a new economic reality, show we are not yet back on the path to normalcy.

A New Financial World

  • 44% of parents say they cannot afford to register their children for organized sports 
  • 81% of sport programmers say their operational costs have increased 
  • 27% of parents say that inflation and the rising cost of living made it less likely for them to enroll their kids in organized sports 
  • 62% of sports organizations say the current economic situation has led to reduced sign-up rates for their programming
Impact on Families and Kids Chart.

This economic impact is felt most acutely by our kids, with 4 in 10 parents continuing to report adverse effects on their children like reduced activity, including signs of being less physically fit (42%), and feelings of loss, resentment (38%) and anxiety (41%).

Despite this, the financial roadblocks are proving insurmountable. While 70% of parents agree organized sport offers a great experience for their children, 44% say they cannot afford registration.

“We are newcomers [to the] country and for now can only afford free sport activities.”

- Parent/Caregiver Survey Respondent 

“I really want to register my children in organized sports programming especially on the weekend for their mental health and wellbeing, but I can't due to the prices.”

- Parent/Caregiver Survey Respondent 

Impact on Sport Organizations Chart.

We Can Build Back Better, Together

Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities (Jumpstart) heard the call from parents that sport programs are expensive and that fees need to be lowered. The reasons behind this trend, and the barriers that it poses, are at the heart of the 2023 State of Sport Report.

Download the Report (PDF)

Jumpstart actively helps remove financial barriers to sport at the grassroots level, working to rebuild community sport and ensure a more inclusive, equitable environment for Canada’s youth. Since 2005, Jumpstart has helped more than 3 million kids get into sport and play.

Four children holding hands.

In 2022, Jumpstart committed to building back sport better. The charity: 

  • Provided more than 29,000 Individual Child Grants, helping families in need pay for registration costs 
  • Dispersed 1,255 Community Development Grants to support 788 community sport and recreation organizations across Canada 
  • Built 24 new inclusive playgrounds and multi-sport courts across Canada – totalling 275,000 sq. ft. 
  • Partnered with Classroom Champions to bring free social and emotional resources to the Jumpstart community, including inspiring lessons from well-known Canadian athletes 
  • Continued to champion girls in sport with the launch of Play to Lead, while funding programming for more than 3,000 girls across the country

Where We Go From Here

The 2023 Jumpstart Return to Sport Report is the third and final report analyzing and understanding the impact of COVID-19 on youth athletics, sport, and recreation. Produced in partnership with Ipsos and Jumpstart’s academic advisory panel, it’s a deep dive into understanding what exactly the state of sport is in Canada—and what we can do to improve. Together, we can provide much-needed opportunities for kids to realize the transformational benefits of sport and play.

1 2022 Jumpstart State of Sport Report


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