Pascale St-Onge, Canada’s Minister of Sport, said the federal government has been making para sport a priority for years, pointing to the $6 million annually it gives to the CPC compared to $800,00 to the COC.
“The mandate we have and the CPC has is to build athlete’s careers and help them in their training, traveling, and so that they can perform,” St-Onge said. “There needs to be a culture change in our society to ensure our Paralympians are recognized and celebrated as much as the Olympians.”
St-Onge said she’s been having conversations with the CPC to ensure a fund to reward Paralympians for medals financially is established.
“I’m making it a priority to find solutions with the CPC because I don’t want to continue this inequity between Olympians and Paralympians,” she told CBC Sports. “This needs to be fixed. I want to ensure that on the international stage, Canada is still perceived as a very inclusive and progressive country.”
But she said Wednesday the CPC is substantially healthier now, allowing the organization to focus on things like a money for medal fund.
“You have people now who want to make a personal statement and personal commitment for the things that count,” O’Neill told CBC Sports. “The gap in this one situation and recognition is such a key symbol. For Sanjay and his family to make this commitment is just phenomenal.
“It’s such a statement. It’s inspiring. And for our athletes there’s such appreciation to be acknowledged and recognized in this way.”
O’Neill said the CPC has had a number of conversations over the last couple of days with sponsors who are understanding the importance of getting the money for medals fund established and sustainable into the future.
Para nordic skier Mark Arendz won four medals at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games to bring his career total to 12.
“On behalf of all my fellow Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 Paralympians, a huge thank you to Sanjay for this gift,” Mark Arendz, a four-time Paralympic nordic skier who won four medals in Beijing, said in a statement. “This is a significant step forward in the recognition of Canadian Paralympic athletes who work and train so hard to compete on the world stage.metagame
“I am optimistic that Sanjay’s generosity will serve as a catalyst for greater equality for Canadian athletes with a disability that so proudly represent our country.”
The COC’s bonus program, called the Athlete Excellence Fund, is entirely funded through its own marketing sponsorships, separate from the CPC. Each organization governs everything to do with their respective Games.