Sport in Canada

Canada is a leading sport nation. How sport is practiced in Canada today is influenced by a number of factors, including our four seasons, and our geographic and social diversity. For example, lacrosse, our national summer sport, has been played by Aboriginal peoples for close to a thousand years. Hockey, our national winter sport, was invented in Canada in the 1800s, and basketball was invented by Canadian Dr. James Naismith in 1891 to condition young athletes during the winter. Today, soccer is the most popular sport among Canadian children.

Our sport system allows Canadians from all segments of society to get involved in sport activities at all levels and in all forms of participation. From childhood to adulthood, sport is part of a healthy, active lifestyle.

Canadian Sport System

Many organizations make up Canada’s sport system, each playing their own role. Some provide Canadians with access to sport and help athletes participate and succeed in competitions. Others are responsible for hosting sport events.

Government Participation in Sport

As the single largest investor in Canada’s amateur sport system, the Government of Canada plays an important role in this system. Through Sport Canada, it develops programs and policies to help the sport system meet the needs of Canadians.

Provincial and territorial governments, as well as the private and not-for-profit sectors, also provide programs and funding that support participation and excellence in sport.

Canadian Sport Policy

The common thread between the governments, institutions and organizations that are part of our sport system is the Canadian Sport Policy. The current Canadian Sport Policy, effective from 2012 to 2022, sets a direction for all governments, institutions and organizations to make sure sport has a positive impact on the lives of Canadians, our communities and our country.

Objectives of the Canadian Sport Policy

Through five broad objectives, the Policy aims to increase the number and diversity of Canadians participating in sport:

  • Introduction to sport: Canadians have the fundamental skills, knowledge and attitudes to participate in organized and unorganized sport.
  • Recreational sport: Canadians have the opportunity to participate in sport for fun, health, social interaction and relaxation.
  • Competitive sport: Canadians have the opportunity to systematically improve and measure their performance against others in competition in a safe and ethical manner.
  • High performance sport: Canadians are systematically achieving world-class results at the highest levels of international competition through fair and ethical means.
  • Sport for development: Sport is used as a tool for social and economic development, and the promotion of positive values at home and abroad.

Read the full text of the Canadian Sport Policy.

Date modified: