[Note: On April 26, the Liberals and New Democrats reached an agreement-in-principle that the Liberal minority government will make changes to its 2005 budget in exchange for NDP support. The changes can be found here.]
Budget plan: $20 million to Canada's sports system
$20M boost for elite athletes
Canada's sports system received a $20-million boost in Wednesday's budget, only one-third of the $60 million Canadian Olympic athletes and administrators had been asking for as part of a strategy to make Canada the top medal-winning country at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.
In his 2005 budget, Finance Minister Ralph Goodale set aside $15 million per year to provide the coaching and equipment for the country's elite athletes. The budget alloted an additional $5 million a year for sport participation activities at the community level.
Sports officials had been asking for an additional $60 million in funding to help avoid a repeat of the disappointing results from last year's Olympics.
Though the government claims that the new funding in the budget doubles its commitment to the sport system from $70 million in 2004-2005 to $140 million in 2005-2006 – the higher amount is actually a mix of old and new funding, and includes about $50 million earmarked last year and not part of Sport Canada's base funding.
The federal minister responsible for sports, Stephen Owen, has recognized that funding is an essential part of determining how well a country does in international sports.
The Canadian Olympic Committee has set a target of 35 medals for 2010.
As part of its commitment to the Vancouver Games, the budget also set aside an additional $87 million over the next seven years, including an extra $20 million for the Paralympic Games, to make sure the Vancouver Games are ready. This funding is in addition to the $410 million the government has already allotted to help build the venues, as well as security and policing at the Games.