Ontario Removing Barriers to Sport and Recreation

Province empowering girls to realize benefits of physical activity

Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport makes an announcement (source: X / @NeilLumsdenMPP)

TORONTO —The Ontario government is investing up to $380,000 in Canadian Women & Sport’s The Next Play program to create more opportunities for girls to be active. This funding is a part of the $2 million that is being provided through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport to up to 200 community organizations across the province to facilitate accessible, affordable and inclusive sport and recreation programming.

“Our government is proud to support the continued efforts of Canadian Women & Sport to create more opportunities for girls to realize the benefits of participating in active recreation,” said Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “This funding will expand the important impact that The Next Play program is having in communities across the province, removing barriers and improving the physical and mental well-being of even more Ontarians.”

“The Next Play is arming community-based sport and recreation organizations across Ontario with the tools and resources they need to design sport that truly works for diverse girls. So many organizations and communities are ready to do this work and we are thrilled to support them,” says Allison Sandmeyer-Graves, CEO at Canadian Women & Sport. “On International Women’s Day, we’re thrilled to announce this investment from the Ontario government which will provide new opportunities to create lasting change and inspire inclusion in our communities.”

Canadian Women & Sport’s The Next Play program equips participating organizations with specialized training to counter gender bias in program design and also provides start-up grants to support community initiatives to recruit and retain girls in sport. In 2023, 180 sport leaders from 90 organizations participated in The Next Play and engaged more than 3,000 girls across Ontario in community-based programming.

Quick Facts

  • In 2022-23, Canadian Women & Sport received $785,000 to support The Next Play program.
  • The Ontario government invests over $18 million annually to support local, inclusive physical activity programming, including: Ontario’s After School Program, the Community Aboriginal Recreation Activator Program (CARA), the Sport Pathway for Ontario Native Wellness, and Variety Village.


“Sports bring communities together, promotes inclusion and helps young people build friendships and self-confidence that will last a lifetime. This investment in The Next Play program will help break down barriers so that more young women and girls in Ontario can enjoy the exciting benefits that sports have to offer—empowering them to pursue their dreams and helping build a stronger Ontario.”

– Charmaine Williams
Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity

“TMU applauds this significant investment to better support girls in sports. Our university is home to many varsity women’s teams; our female athletes inspire us daily, proving that with the right support and opportunities, women’s sports can reach remarkable heights. This funding will help more girls similarly pursue their passions.”

– Mohamed Lachemi
President & Vice-Chancellor, Toronto Metropolitan University

“Investing in women’s sports fosters an environment of support and inclusivity. It helps ensure that the pursuit of excellence knows no gender and helps give women’s sport the platform to inspire the next generation of strong, confident, and determined leaders. ”

– Gina Kingsbury
General Manager, Professional Women’s Hockey League (Toronto)

SOURCE Province of Ontario

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