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Canadian athletes to receive financial reward for medals won at Paralympic Games

Aurélie Rivard Aurélie Rivard - The Canadian Press

GATINEAU, Que. — Canadian Paralympians will receive the same financial reward for medals as the country's Olympians starting with this year's Paris Paralympics.

Under a new performance recognition program released Wednesday by the Canadian Paralympic Committee, athletes will receive $20,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze medals won at the Paralympic Games.

"Today is 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,” CPC president Marc-André Fabien said in a release. "For many years, (the) CPC has been focused on developing a system that is fair and effective by investing in athlete development and strengthening Canada’s Paralympic Movement.

“We have made significant advancements in support of Paralympic sport in recent years, and a performance recognition program was the next major priority to ensure athletes receive both the resources they need to continue competing, and the recognition they deserve for their dedication and accomplishments on the world stage.”

The financial rewards will begin with the 2024 Paralympics and the program will continue for each edition of the Paralympics thereafter, the CPC said.

"I am exceedingly excited to learn Paralympic medallists will be receiving prize money for each medal they win," said Priscilla Gagne, a two-time Paralympian in para judo. "This initiative truly shows us Paralympians that we are valued as much as Olympians are."

An initial $8-million endowment created by the Paralympic Foundation of Canada will launch the program and ensure a sustainable funding model, the CPC said. Lead donor Sanjay Malaviya was contributing 50 per cent of the funds through the Malaviya Foundation.

Malaviya is matching a $2-million investment from the federal government. An additional $2 million is still to be raised, with Malaviya also committed to matching that amount, the CPC said.

“I have spoken to so many Paralympic athletes and each one has a story of dedication and passion, but also of barriers and adversity they have faced along their sporting journey,” said Malaviya, a health-care technology entrepreneur.

"Canada’s Paralympians are incredible athletes who unite all of us as they proudly represent our country, and I am thrilled to be able to support them and celebrate their accomplishments in this way.”

Similar initiatives for Paralympic athletes exist in other countries — such as France, the U.S., and Australia — and a program for Canada’s Olympians has been in place since 2006.

"Today’s announcement is so much more than sports news," said Aurelie Rivard, a three-time Paralympian in para swimming. "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.”

The 12-day Paris Paralympics will begin Aug. 28.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2024.