How Canada's investment in sport, physical activity and recreation pays off
Ottawa, ON (December 7, 2023) — In a significant step towards understanding the impact of the
sport, physical activity, and recreation (SPAR) sector in Canada, the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle
Research Institute (CFLRI) and the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA) have
launched Measuring Impact of SPAR in Canada. The initiative provides innovative new research,
tools and resources that demonstrate the social, health, economic and environmental impact of the
SPAR sector. SPAR includes things like team sports, athletics, walking and movement, gardening,
parks and community infrastructure, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
The comprehensive research report titled, “The Price of Inactivity: Measuring the Powerful Impact
of Sport, Physical Activity, and Recreation in Canada” offers an examination of the comprehensive
impact of SPAR.
New research shows that investing in the sector creates a ripple effect that may lead to improved
physical and mental health outcomes, helps mitigate the effects of climate change, generates
revenue, creates jobs and encourages social cohesion and community engagement.
"Until now, economic assessments on the impact of SPAR in Canada, have been limited, dated or
disparate. Our research provides an important emerging picture on the potential for powerful
returns on investment in the SPAR sector,” says Dr. John Spence, Vice-Chair of the CFLRI Board of
Directors. “Findings reflect our best efforts and will be continually updated as more data sources
become available to help refine the impact, value and benefits of SPAR in Canada.”
With a focus on providing actionable data and insights, the report underscores SPAR's role as a
pivotal sector in fostering healthy individuals, inclusive communities, and a thriving economy. The
initiative offers valuable resources for decision-makers at all levels of government in Canada,
emphasizing the substantial returns from strategic SPAR investment.
- Social Impact: Sport, physical activity, and recreation are powerful agents of social
transformation, contributing an estimated $13.6 billion annually through volunteerism
- Health Impact: Physical inactivity accounts for $3.9 billion of annual health care
expenditures. Integrating SPAR into daily life boosts public health, improves physical and
mental well-being, and reduces the economic burden of physical inactivity.
- Economic Impact: The SPAR sector plays a vital role in Canada's economy, contributing
$37.2 billion annually to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP).
- Environmental Impact: SPAR can help build climate-resilient communities. The
replacement value of aging SPAR infrastructure is estimated at $42.5 billion. This
underscores the essential role the physical and built environment plays in promoting health
and reducing pollution, while highlighting the significant benefits derived from maintaining
and upgrading aging community infrastructure amid a growing climate crisis.
“Decision makers need data and evidence to make the case for SPAR investment. By showcasing
the sector's multifaceted impact, we aim to support policy development, strategic planning, and
budget allocation for a healthier, more resilient, and prosperous Canada,” says Howie Dayton,
President of the CPRA Board of Directors. “We urge governments to consider these insights in
their decision-making processes, recognizing SPAR as a cornerstone of sustainable development."
Governments in Canada invested approximately $2 billion in SPAR infrastructure in 2022, with $1.5
billion coming from municipalities (some municipal investment could be from federal or
provincial/territorial funding through grants and contributions). Moreover, 61% of Canadians favor
increased government funding for SPAR.
The research initiative presents a compelling case for strategic investment in SPAR by all three
levels of government and the private sector, as benefits from municipal investment in SPAR
infrastructure can be seen and felt at the federal and provincial levels.
The ongoing initiative will continue to refine the data and impacts with additional research to
further mitigate acknowledged data gaps and underestimates in the initial report.
For information, updates and helpful resources related to this initiative, please visit
www.Measuring-Impact.ca. The website serves as a central hub for updates and collaborative
efforts to further the reach and impact of SPAR across Canada.