Canadian Athlete Representatives request $6.3 Million increase to Athlete Assistance Program Funding in Budget 2024

AAP Budget Request 2024

TORONTO / OTTAWA – AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, the Canadian Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission (COC AC) and the Canadian Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Council (CPC AC) – the elected representatives of Olympians and Paralympians across Canada – announced Thursday a $6.3 Million request to the Minister’s Office to increase funding to the Athlete Assistance Program (AAP) in Budget 2024

The request represents an 18.8 per cent increase in AAP funding for national team athletes,  aligning with the rise in inflation since 2017 – the last time the program saw an adjustment. The request also proposes indexing the AAP to the inflation rate moving forward, similar to other Government-funded programs. 

“For Canada’s athletes to be competitive on the international stage, they are required to pursue sport full time,” said AthletesCAN President and artistic swimming Olympian Erin Willson. “Training demands and travel requirements make it impossible for athletes to pursue part-time work opportunities to support their living and training costs.”

The AAP, often referred to as carding, was originally designed as a living, training and tuition allowance for Canadian high performance athletes. This funding – which has partial and full status levels – is determined based on meeting AAP-approved, sport-specific carding criteria – including standards achieved at national and international competition, and being nominated by the athlete’s National Sport Organization (NSO). 

According to the most recently published edition of Sport Canada’s Status of the High Performance Athlete Survey, AAP funding makes up approximately 75 per cent or more of athletes’ annual income. At a maximum payment of $1,765 per month, most of Canada’s high performance athletes compete at the highest levels of sport while living on just over $21,000 per year – which for many athletes, is their lone source of income.

Today, the AAP is no longer reflective of the reality that athletes experience while pursuing their sports at the international level. Athletes are experiencing rising costs like all Canadians, with the majority of National Training Centres located in Canada’s most expensive cities – including Toronto, Vancouver / Victoria and Calgary – which have experienced a 13.1 per cent year-over-year increase in average rent, on top of increasing costs for team fees, equipment, travel and health and wellness

“Athletes are increasingly burdened by the rising expenses of the cost of training and living, leaving them in a financially vulnerable position,” said COC AC Chair and Olympic gold medalist in trampoline gymnastics Rosie MacLennan. “Addressing these concerns is crucial to retaining high performance athletes in sports and fostering healthy sports cultures. The uncertainty of athlete financial realities creates undue and inequitable power dynamics which may also result in increased risk of experiencing maltreatment in sport and/or reduced agency to report maltreatment in sport.”

The request aims to positively impact over 1,900 current national team athletes across the 68 sports currently competing in either the Major Multisport Games (Olympic/Paralympic, Pan/Parapan Am, Commonwealth) or those funded by Sport Canada that hold an annual Senior World Championship.

This request is independent of the recent budget appeal of $104 Million by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) for the federal government’s core funding for NSOs. AthletesCAN, the COC AC and CPC AC full support this ask, as properly-resourced NSOs remain essential to providing support and services that enable Canada’s athletes to thrive on the international stage. However, without specific funding allocated directly to athletes in the manner of the AAP, athletes remain at risk.

“Parasport athletes play a pivotal role in creating more inclusive sport opportunities for each and every Canadian,” said CPC AC Chair and wheelchair basketball Paralympian Erica Gavel. “Given that para-sport athletes experience additional costs relative to their disability, sporting equipment, and transportation, an increase in funding would alleviate the financial strain experienced by our developing and senior carded athletes.”


2019-20 Sport Canada Status of the High Performance Athlete Survey

  • 846 Paralympic, Olympic and Non-Olympic High Performance athlete participants
  • Average annual Income: $28,858 in 2018
  • Sport Canada’s AAP contribution average: $13,613
  • Sport Canada’s AAP maximum monthly contribution: $1,765/month
  • Provincial Assistance average: $3,689
  • Employment income: $10,074
  • Sport-related resources income $5,218
  • Sport Award income: $1,264
  • Athlete expenses: $4,400/month
  • Increase of more than 15 per cent since 2013-14
  • Nearly 30 per cent increase since 2009
  • Increase of $600/month from 2013-14 to 2018
  • Deficit of $1800/month or close to $22,000/year 

2022 COC AC Survey

  • 83 per cent of athletes said that financial health causes significant stress and contributed to the decision to leave sport prematurely
  • 80 per cent cite financial stability as key topic of mind

About AthletesCAN

AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, is the only fully independent and most inclusive athlete organization in the country and the first organization of its kind in the world.  As the voice of over 6,000 current and recently retired Canadian national team athletes, AthletesCAN membership spans 68 sports across the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan/Parapan American, and Commonwealth Games, and those currently funded by Sport Canada competing at Senior World Championships. AthletesCAN ensures an athlete-centered sport system by developing athlete leaders who influence sport policy and, as role models, inspire a strong sport culture, through educational resources, support, training and professional development.  

Follow us on social @AthletesCAN and Join #TheCollective today.

About the COC Athletes' Commission

The COC Athletes’ Commission (@TeamCanadaAC) represents the voice of Canadian Olympic athletes to the Canadian Olympic Committee Board of Directors, to Sport Canada, to the International Olympic Committee, international sport federations and all other domestic sport organizations. It is instrumental in presenting Canadian athletes’ perspectives in areas ranging from athlete rights, safe sport policies, marketing & COC partnership agreements, Olympic team selection policies and much more.

About the CPC Athletes' Council

The CPC Athletes’ Council is an elected group of current and retired Paralympic athletes (within the past eight years) that serve as the collective voice, advocating the best interests of Canada’s Paralympic athletes and the Paralympic movement within Canada. The Athletes’ Council works to provide input and recommendations from an athlete perspective to the Canadian Paralympic Committee staff, committees and Board of a Directors with respect to decision making at all levels of the organization.

For more information, please contact:

Alan Hudes
Manager, Communications and Sport Partnerships
613-526-4025 Ext. 224
[email protected] 

COC Athletes’ Commision
[email protected]

CPC Athletes’ Council
[email protected]