For the first time in history, Canadian Paralympic athletes will get financial rewards — like Olympic athletes do — for finishing at the podium at the Paris Games later this year.
The Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) made the announcement Wednesday of a new program that would see Paralympians get an equal amount of money as Olympians for winning medals at the multi-sport global event.
The long-awaited compensation will start with this year’s Summer Paralympics that kick off in Paris, France, on Aug. 28. Equal payouts are being promised for future editions of the Paralympic Games as well.
Gold medalists will receive $20,000, silver medalists will get $15,000 and $10,000 will go to those Paralympians who clinch bronze. This is the same amount that Olympic athletes receive for podium performances.
CPC president Marc-André Fabien said it was a “historic day for Paralympic sport in Canada, and is the cumulation of years of work to create a more equitable, inclusive space for Canada’s Paralympians to compete.”
The new Paralympic Performance Recognition program was launched with the help of federal funding worth $2 million.
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Those funds make up part of the initial endowment of $8 million that will come through the Paralympic Foundation of Canada (PFC). The Malaviya Foundation has committed to contributing half the total amount, pledging $4 million in existing and future funds.
“This is a very welcome initiative and a game changer for Paralympic sport in Canada, recognizing the incredible amount of work, commitment, and resources required to compete at a world-class level,” said Minister of Sport and Physical Activity Carla Qualtrough in a statement.
The minister can speak from experience: she is a former Paralympic swimmer and the holder of three medals.
“It is fantastic to know that today’s Paralympians and the next generation of athletes to come will receive this much-deserved equitable recognition for their performances,” Qualtrough said.
For years, disabled athletes have been fighting and calling for equal compensation.
With the new funding, Canada is now in line with other countries, like the United States, Australia and France, that give equal payouts for medal performances to their Paralympians and Olympians.
Wednesday’s announcement was welcomed by Canadian para-athletes.
Aurélie Rivard, a 10-time Paralympic medalist in swimming, said: “We are making the decision as a country to equally value and support the athletes representing Canada, regardless of their differences. I think that this is a major step towards seeing a Paralympic medal worth the same as an Olympic medal.”
Judoka Priscilla Gagné, who won a silver medal at the Tokyo Games in 2020, said this “initiative truly shows us Paralympians that we are valued as much as Olympians are.”
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