Ontario Passes Ground-Breaking Legislation to Protect Amateur Athletes
Ontario passed ground-breaking concussion safety legislation today to protect amateur athletes and make sport safer on the field and at school.
Rowan’s Law (Concussion Safety), 2017 makes Ontario a national leader in concussion management and prevention by establishing mandatory requirements that call for:
- Annual review of concussion awareness resources that prevents, identifies and manages concussions that coaches and educators would be required to review before registering in a sport
- Removal-from-sport and return-to-sport protocols, to ensure that an athlete is immediately removed from sport if they are suspected of having sustained a concussion, giving them the time needed to heal properly
- A concussion code of conduct that would set out rules of behaviour to minimize concussions while playing sport.
In honour of Rowan Stringer, the 17-year-old rugby player whose death resulted from sustaining multiple concussions, the proposed legislation also establishes the last Wednesday in September as “Rowan’s Law Day”.
Ontario is the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass concussion safety legislation, setting a precedent for sport legislation across the country. The province worked closely with key medical experts, researchers and sport leaders — most notably the members of the Rowan’s Law Advisory Committee — in establishing this first-of-its-kind legislation.
Making amateur sport safer is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.
- The legislation is part of the government’s response to the Rowan’s Law Advisory Committee report for the prevention and management of concussions in amateur sport released in September 2017. Chaired by Dr. Dan Cass, the Rowan’s Law Advisory Committee was established to review the coroner’s inquest recommendations made following the death of Rowan Stringer.
- In Ontario, 22 per cent of students reported being knocked out or admitted to hospital due to a head injury in their lifetime. In Canada, among children and youth who visit an emergency department for a sports-related head injury, 39 per cent were diagnosed with concussions, while a further 24 per cent were possible concussions.
- Ontario’s current work to increase awareness about concussions includes a web portal with information and resources on concussions, and a Sport Recognition Policy that requires all recognized provincial and multi-sport organizations to have policies on concussion management and return-to-play.
- In 2014, the Ministry of Education issued a policy/program memorandum requiring all school boards to develop and maintain a policy on concussions