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Policy Matters: Samantha Rogers

Later this year, Canadians will vote in the 43rd federal election. Many non-profit organizations, networks, and coalitions see elections as a critical opportunity to raise relevant public policy issues. Recently, the rules for charities engaging in public policy have become a prominent source of debate and discussion in government and the sector. As we countdown to the next election, The Philanthropist is asking non-profit leaders what public policy issues are top of mind for them.

Name and organization: Samantha Rogers, Relate Social Capital

What current election issues might impact your work? 

I’m always concerned about sport funding. I believe there is mixed messaging — on one hand we preach the importance of health (both physical and mental), inclusion, diversity, childhood obesity, care for our aging population, skill development, and empowering women and girls, but on the other hand, sport organizations that directly contribute to positive outcomes in these areas are increasingly fighting for smaller and smaller pieces of the same government funding pie. We are failing sports in Canada. The lack of resources, talent, access, programming, and support in the sport system is leading our country down a path of unsustainability, and the organizations that will suffer the most are the ones with greatest impact on our communities.

What issues would you like to bring more attention to in the election? 

I am extremely passionate about using sport for social good. Canadians have identified population health, community building, social development, nation building, and civic engagement as areas in which sport can make the greatest contributions to our society. At the moment, the Government of Canada is the single largest investor in our sport system, which is unsustainable, so I would like to see sport recognized as a charitable purpose. Incorporating sport itself as charitable reinforces the government’s stance that sport is important, and provides the opportunity to fill the funding gap with private support. This in turn enriches key sectors involved in, and influenced by, sport participation and supports Sport Canada’s vision that all Canadians can pursue sport to the extent of their abilities and interests. As the source of limitless public benefit, sport deserves an equal seat at the charitable purpose table.

Where can we learn more about these issues?

Sport Philanthropy in Canada — The Case for Change, 2018 Senate Report

Women and Girls in Sport, 2017 Report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage

The health benefits of sport and exercise are for everyone, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Strengthening Canada: The Socio-economic Benefits of Sport Participation in Canada, Conference Board of Canada

Samantha Rogers is a partner with Relate Social Capital based in Montreal, Quebec.