Government Support for Special Olympics Athletes

Hon. Jim Munson: I have a nice question to the good Leader of the Government in the Senate with a positive preamble. I know you might be in shock hearing those words, but this deals with Special Olympics and the athletes that you may have seen on Parliament Hill today in various offices. There are 35,000 of them in the country.

The Finance Minister and your government have been quite generous, and I’m very pleased with that, in supporting Special Olympic athletes, but we only touch about 5 per cent of Canadians with an intellectual disability. There’s an opportunity, I believe, for the government to play an even bigger role in terms of financing Special Olympic athletes. What they’re requesting is support in the 2014 federal budget and hoping there will be increased federal government support for thousands more with intellectual disabilities.

The question I have for you is maybe to urge you, to ask you to ask cabinet and others in the government to take a hard look at the request. I know it’s difficult for funding programs, but in the country that we live in today, I think it’s extremely important that we share what wealth we have for those who have intellectual disabilities. I’m asking you to use your good office to get to that good place for our Special Olympic athletes.

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Thank you for your question, senator. Of course, in the coming months, during the Winter Olympic Games, we will have the opportunity to witness the high quality of our Canadian athletes competing in Sochi in both the Olympic and the Paralympic Games.

I think we will stand united in encouraging our athletes so that they not only reach the heights of success, but also inspire all Canadians and people struggling with physical or intellectual disabilities, by showing them that it is possible to reach the highest levels and practise a sport despite a physical or intellectual disability.

As for your requests, I will forward them to the minister responsible for sport.