Allow Ontario's young athletes a safe return to sports

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The outbreak of Covid 19 brought an abrupt end to the sports season for all winter sports. It has delayed and cancelled the summer season for many others.

Sports are well recognized as a vital benefit for the physical and mental well being of children's development. The prolonged shutdown of amateur sports will begin to impact the well being of our children.

Sports organizations have worked with government to come up with sport specific protocols to allow for the safe return to sport once Covid numbers decrease to what health officials believe is a safe level to re-commence sports activities. Different sports carry with them different risks and the leaders of different sports have worked hard in cooperation with their Ministry contacts to develop practical ways to reduce the risk to athletes, officials, spectators and their extended families.

A significant barrier to re-opening for amateur sports is the concerns around legal liability. Insurance companies have been unwilling to provide the normal liability insurance sports teams, leagues and associations have which allow them to operate.

Due to the novel nature of Covid 19, insurance companies are unsure how the courts might interpret those involved in sports contracting Covid 19. Their reaction has been to require organizations to assume far greater risks than many volunteer coaches, managers, and board members are willing to take on.

Just recently the BC provincial government took steps to take on some of the legal liability burden so that amateur sports might be able to reopen once deemed safe by local health authorities and with suitable protocols in place.. The result was very positive and within hours and days sports that had been previously deemed safe to return with protocols in place were able to begin re-opening.

We call on the Ontario government to act quickly to adopt policies similar to those enacted in BC to allow our children's return to sport be governed by health considerations and not bogged down in legal limbo over liability concerns.