Printed and Published by Nova Scotia Hansard Reporting Services
PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
Ms. Diana Whalen (Chairman)
Mr. Leonard Preyra (Vice-Chairman)
Mr. Clarrie MacKinnon
Ms. Becky Kent
Mr. Mat Whynott
Mr. Howard Epstein
Hon. Keith Colwell
Hon. Cecil Clarke
Mr. Chuck Porter
[Mr. Leo Glavine replaced Hon. Keith Colwell]
[Mr. Alfie MacLeod replaced Mr. Chuck Porter]
Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation
Ms. Marie Mullally, President & CEO
Sport Nova Scotia
Mr. Jamie Ferguson, CEO
Mrs. Darlene Henry
Legislative Committee Clerk
Mr. Jacques Lapointe
Ms. Evangeline Colman-Sadd
Assistant Auditor General
Mr. Gordon Hebb
Chief Legislative Counsel
HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2010
STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
Ms. Diana Whalen
Mr. Leonard Preyra
MADAM CHAIRMAN: I'm going to call the meeting to order. It's just after 9:00 a.m. this morning and this is the meeting of the Public Accounts Committee. This morning we have with us visitors and witnesses from the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, as well as Sport Nova Scotia. As is our custom, we're going to begin with the introduction of the committee members and our guests.
[The committee members and witnesses introduced themselves]
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Just before we begin, I'd like to let everybody know that we have with us today a Grade 9 student. She is in the Speaker's Gallery, and her name is Courtney Langille. Today is take your daughter or son to work. It is Grade 9 students who get to go to work with their parents, and her mom is Kim Langille from the Committees Office. We welcome you today - oh, there are others up there, I don't have your names, but welcome. They're from the Auditor General's Office, thank you. Anyway, I know you'll find today interesting.
I'm going to begin with turning the floor over to Marie Mullaly so that you can do an opening statement before we begin with our questioning. Thank you.
MS. MARIE MULLALLY: Thank you, Madam Chairman, and good morning. It is my pleasure to be here before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. I'd like to thank the committee for the invitation to appear today and for the opportunity to share information on the Support4Sport program. With me, as you've already been introduced, is Jamie Ferguson, CEO of Sport Nova Scotia, the organization that manages the Support4Sport program on our behalf. He is here to help answer your questions and can speak to the impact this program has on sport in this province.
Over the past number of years we have talked to thousands of Nova Scotians who have consistently stated they want to know where gaming revenues go and how they positively impact communities. In research conducted, 81 per cent of adult Nova Scotians believed gaming revenues should be earmarked for specific programs, and 42 per cent of those surveyed believed it should go to sport. These findings were not a surprise to us - after all, there is a long-standing and historical link between gaming and sport. In fact, on April 15, 1974, our federal government established Canada's first national lottery to raise funds for the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and the provincial lotteries were established shortly thereafter.
Nova Scotia Support4Sport program was approved in 2006 by Cabinet and launched in August that same year as a means to provide much-needed funding to amateur sport in the province. Even though we would like to take full credit for the idea, similar ticket lottery programs benefiting sport were already in existence in other Canadian jurisdictions at that time. British Columbia's SportsFunder and Ontario's Quest for Gold are two examples, in addition to the thousands of 50-50 draws and ticket raffles which are common and popular at local sporting events.
At any given time there is a suite of designated Support4Sport ticket lottery products available for sale in the Nova Scotia marketplace, of which 100 per cent of the profits are directed to the program. Since 2006, the Support4Sport program has become the most significant source of annual funding for sport in this province. As of March 31, 2010, the contribution totalled $9.6 million.
Who are the beneficiaries of these funds? Well, they are athletes, coaches, officials, program directors, as well as community and provincial sport organizations. Sport Nova Scotia has estimated that well over 125,000 Nova Scotians benefit from Support4Sport funding annually, and that number is growing. To date Support4Sport has funded 513 athletes, 140 coaches and officials, as well as 272 community and provincial sport organizations that run numerous programs throughout Nova Scotia.
In addition, the program is now the largest funder of the Support4Sport-Canada Games Legacy Fund. Over the next 10 years this fund will distribute monies specifically for sport equipment. Through this exciting initiative the spirit and goodwill of Halifax 2011 Canada Games will live on in every community throughout Nova Scotia and, as its supporter, the profile of the Support4Sport program will continue to grow.
We have been very fortunate to have a long-standing partnership with Sport Nova Scotia in the management and administration of the Support4Sport program. Who better to determine the need and create the various programs, application criteria, and funding decisions? Jamie has been instrumental in the establishment of this program and he and his team have helped make it the success that it is today. I commend them for their leadership, energy, and enthusiasm in ensuring sport flourishes in this province.
Like many, NSGC believes in the power of sport and its importance in building a stronger and healthier province. When we first established this program we hoped it would be a success, and it has far surpassed our expectations. This program has been embraced by Sport Nova Scotia, the sporting community at large, and by the people in this province. Support4Sport has quickly become one of the province's most notable contributions to sport.
Madam Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to address this committee and I now welcome any questions from members.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. That was an interesting start. As is our custom, we allow 20 minutes for each caucus. We'll begin with Mr. Glavine for the Liberal caucus.
MR. LEO GLAVINE: Thank you very much, Madam Chairman. Marie and Jamie, I'm pleased to have you here this morning to talk about a topic that is of high interest and importance to Nova Scotians, but because of its connection to gaming and gambling, we know there are always overtones of other elements that come into play.
Just to drill down a little bit on Support4Sport, I was wondering, just in the past year - it's a year in which Canada Games has been starting to catch some fever and be on the minds of Nova Scotians, especially here in metro where students will get a couple of weeks off from school to be spectators and engaged in Canada Games and make it more of a real welcoming event here in the province. So in this year - or in maybe a typical year - what would be the number of applicants you would have for some funding from the Support4Sport Program?
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Mr. Ferguson.
MR. JAMIE FERGUSON: What we would have seen is - and I don't actually have the number of people who have applied - an increase in the number of applications we've granted funding to. So to give you an idea, over the past year we would have given out close to 100 allocations of funding for provincial and community sport organizations, over 60 coaches and officials. We would be supporting 36 different provincial sport organizations for their actual Canada Games team training and development and about 150 athletes at the same time.
MR. GLAVINE: So they would go through certain criteria and so on. We know that fundraising is a big part of all sports teams and organizations. In fact, as a coach in high school, and having coached probably over 50 teams between the community and high school in my career, I know exactly what you go through. You spend sometimes not as much time but a big amount of time on fundraising. So what would be some criteria that you would have as an expectation in the application, especially around teams and individual athletes?
MR. FERGUSON: Each category of the program has different criteria depending on what the funding is granted for. So the largest chunk of money that comes out of the Support4Sport program goes toward participation and development or grassroots programs. So provincial sport organizations, community sport organizations, coaches, and officials apply, and in that particular category, for instance, they would be applying and their application will be graded based on how many new participants it would get involved and on how it would improve the quality of the experience for the participants. It would also determine whether or not the program that they're looking for funding for was in line with their long-term athlete development model.
Each application is reviewed by a committee. In this case it would include representation from Health Promotion and Protection, Sport Nova Scotia, the Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic, and then an outside reviewer who would go over the recommendations that that committee granted for participation programs. For coach development it's similar. There's always representation from the provincial government, from Sport Nova Scotia, and from the Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic and then in the area of coaching there would be someone from the coaching community who would review those applications.
Canada Games is similar. It looks at performance. It looks at, again, the fit with the long-term athlete development model, the quality of the leadership that's going to deliver the programs. The athlete funding is granted based on a grid, because what we've done here, actually, and it's a model that other jurisdictions across the country are trying to adopt - is we've pooled all resources for our high performance athletes so that there is one application, one grid everybody knows.
There's money available, for instance, through Sport Canada, through the Canadian Sports Centre Atlantic, that goes in with the Support4Sport money, it goes in with the high performance athlete assistance money that comes from the province and they can simply see where they are. If they were a top 16 finisher at an Olympic Games, if they had been chosen to participate in a world championship, if they made a national team, if they made a national development team and so on, each of those levels is clearly stated.
In each instance, the application and the criteria are published there on the Web site. They were developed in conjunction with the Canadian Sports Centre and the Department of Health Promotion and Protection and feedback that we did in meetings with our different provincial sport organizations across the province, and then the reporting mechanisms are based on those same lines, so at the end of each of those allocation periods they submit a report that gives us an update on how their particular initiative went and what the plans are for the future.
MR. GLAVINE: Thank you very much for that, Jamie. I know that high calibre athletes, Canada Games and Pan American, Commonwealth, Olympics, all of course are very expensive endeavours and require tremendous financial supports. Does the program also
support programs that have wider participation? I ask that question because, as you know, generally our young population in Nova Scotia is considered to have many of the detriments to good health: lack of participation, the obesity issue, tremendous rates of youth diabetes and so forth. Is some of the money that comes from sport also going to any wide participation programs?
MR. FERGUSON: Yes, in fact, one of the things we're most proud of with this program is that the largest single allocation, the largest area of sport development that we service, is participation development - or grassroots - and that's not the case in each of the other jurisdictions across the country. We were thrilled that we were able to do that because in most cases it's a little easier to garner support for your Olympic athletes and your world champions because they're a little higher profile and there seems to be more of a return in that manner. Here, our program actually focuses the biggest piece of its resources on grassroots so when you look at those community and provincial sport organizations, over 100 of them, that's delivering grassroots programs.
From our perspective at Sport Nova Scotia, as I often say, we have approximately 160,000 members across the province who take part in sport programs. We have somewhere in the area of about 80 carded athletes. Those are athletes recognized by their national sport organizations and the federal government as high performance athletes. That leaves us with the other 159,920 to take care of so it's obvious where our interest and our main area of focus is.
Further to that, we share the belief that in a time when we know that potentially we're going to have a shorter life expectancy for this next generation than we have currently, when we know that we have issues with youth crime, when we know that there are issues with education - we see the studies and we don't make these pieces up, these are facts. Children who participate in sport are more likely to be healthy but it's not just health, and sport just isn't a diet pill. We also know that children who participate in sport are more likely to do well in school. We know they're less likely to break the law.
When we know that we're facing all these different issues that we have now - health care funding, we're trying to get more money for equipment, we're having to build more jails. It would be great if we could sit here 20 years from now and say, we don't need as many hospital beds, we don't need as many jails in Nova Scotia, and sport is not the answer to all of those societal issues, but sport does have a role to play in each of those areas. We believe strongly in that. We're very happy that we've had the co-operation of the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation and of the provincial government in allowing us to direct the majority of those funds towards participation because it isn't the highest profile area but it's an area that we really believe makes the biggest difference to our society in this province as a whole.
MR. GLAVINE: You've pretty well answered the second area that I was going to go to and that is the overall impact of the support from the N.S. Gaming Corporation for Support4Sport, which is about $3 million a year in terms of actual dollars. You've given me a description of where a lot is going. It's $9.6 cumulatively to date? Okay, that's where we are, so about $3 million a year. Is there any other organization, ALC for example, the larger body in Atlantic Canada that provides any financial support toward Support4Sport?
MR. FERGUSON: Not toward the Support4Sport program specifically. ALC is a sponsor of the Canada Games, so right now I think they sponsor the Maritime Canada Games teams. We don't have another supporter that is close to making as significant a contribution as Support4Sport has done. We certainly haven't encountered anything that's enabled us to enact the type of widespread system changes in terms of ability of our organizations - not just to improve the quality of the programs that they run now, but to expand their programming. There has been nothing like Support4Sport in that area.
MR. GLAVINE: So if this line revenue for some reason were to not be as substantial as it currently is, then the nature of your programs would obviously change dramatically and would perhaps have to go to some other government-related supports to run the organization.
MR. FERGUSON: Yes. If we were to try and maintain the level of programming that we have now, we wouldn't be able to do it without Support4Sport. We'd have the loss of provincial coaches and technical directors. We'd have the loss of the ability to supply equipment for community sport organizations to run programs. Essentially, prior to this Support4Sport Program, I would say that if you looked across the country we were significantly underfunded in terms of our ability to resource our members and now we're just underfunded.
MR. GLAVINE: Marie, I was wondering if you could give the committee a little bit of an overview of the kind of product that is taking a percentage to go toward Sport Nova Scotia. I think they have some type of logo that does identify those? Could you just give us a little bit of an overview, please?
MS. MULLALLY: Yes, certainly. The products that are associated with the Support4Sport program have the Support4Sport logo on them. They're branded ticket lottery products in the marketplace. Historically, over the last several years there have been a number of products that have been branded under the Support4Sport program. It has included a Break Open ticket in one particular year, an Instant Crossword product, and currently the product supporting the program is the Twist product, which is an addition or spiel game to the Lotto Max ticket lottery national game.
MR. GLAVINE: In effect, then, there isn't a line item which says that $3 million is going to go toward Sport Nova Scotia. In fact, it's whatever revenues are generated in a particular year.
MS. MULLALLY: That's correct. When the program was originally established, the revenue and the associated profit going to the Support4Sport program are dependent on the performance of the products attached to the program.
MR. GLAVINE: One of the areas that has been controversial - and one that I can relate to because I had a team that featured a product called the Eliminator - I know the kind of prominence that an individual athlete or a team can receive when all of a sudden they're in the media. I'm wondering, Jamie, is there still the use of athletes in advertising? What is your view philosophically in that regard, that we would promote a gambling product by use of, especially, high-performance athletes?
MR. FERGUSON: I think that in essence, lottery itself was invented to support sport. At any given time there are thousands of different community sport organizations that are having 50-50 draws and bingo nights and raffles and so on. In fact, we have lottery licences ourselves for fundraising events and programs that we run for our own membership. I think this is not just historically but currently a key mechanism that sport organizations use in order to try to continue to raise the resources that are necessary. I believe that most Nova Scotians actually think this is one of the best places where we can invest these types of funds, and I do say invest and not spend because really what we believe is we are putting money back into building the social capacity of our community so that we have vibrant, healthy communities across the province. So in this specific instance, for these lottery products, I believe that they serve a tremendous cause and I believe there is public support and I believe that this is a positive thing that we should be doing.
MR. GLAVINE What about in terms however - and I do want to drill down on this just a little bit because I know if youth become identified with something that, in this case the overall athletic benefits derived from the dollars generated to Support4Sport do enable athletes to move to different levels of competition, help those grassroots 160,000 Nova Scotians, but also there is a certain degree of imprinting and I guess the whole business of being in the limelight as a result of ads that promote the product.
Do you see some dissidence there in terms of what athletics really tries to accomplish and perhaps the other side of what products can sometimes move on to, because we all know that problem gambling doesn't start overnight, there's generally a trending and patterns that emerge. I'm just wondering, are there some issues there of dissidence around those two?
MR. FERGUSON: I suppose that it's not unlike other corporations that get involved with sport organizations and having athletes talk about other corporate supporters. In most cases high-performance athletes who aren't playing in professional leagues are dependent upon corporate support and programs like Support4Sport, in order to continue to train. They often speak to those sponsors and those corporate supporters at whatever opportunities they get, so that's not an unusual thing.
Perhaps, in a perfect world, if there was simply funding available for everybody all the time, there wouldn't have to be any types of fundraising programs. But in terms of what we are talking about here - and I do believe we're talking about lottery tickets - this not only is a significant funder that allows us to get those benefits, it is part of the fabric of sport organizations that go out and pound the pavement themselves, sell their door-to-door raffle tickets, do their 50-50 draws at the rink and the baseball field and a pool in all those different areas. I think the public believes that when they make a choice to support this program they do it because they want to support the positives that sport investment brings back to this province, so I don't see that as a particular issue in this specific instance.
MR. GLAVINE: I'm just wondering about the time.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: You have three more minutes.
MR. GLAVINE: Thank you very much. I concur, in terms of the value of athletics, not just in a youth development but over a lifetime. In terms of your organization, does Health Promotion and Protection provide a good measure of support as well? I'm just wondering, as we take a look at - you know this is a pretty significant dollar and if, for some reason, it weren't there, obviously we'd be looking at other streams, so I'm just wondering where they are now, in terms of Sport Nova Scotia.
MR. FERGUSON: Health Promotion and Protection does provide funding. In fact, they provide direct funding to our provincial sport organizations, they provide an operational amount of funding for Sport Nova Scotia as well and for our administration centre so we can provide subsidized services to our members. There are also project types of funds available, certain bilateral agreements that we had to run programs in partnership with the provincial and federal governments that meet the goals of these sport departments across the country.
However, again, as I believe Marie mentioned in her opening remarks, this is the largest single line that we have in our ability to actually resource our sport organizations and I think the other key that needs to be mentioned about this program is, because it is annual funding, it allows for us to put programs in place and let them grow. At the grassroots, in particular, we know that in order to build sustainable programs at the community levels, in order to form the partnerships that need to be formed, so that the programs actually are owned and operated by the communities with local champions, it takes a number of years to have that actually start and become a sustainable program. So it's not just the amount of funding that comes in on an annual basis, it's that we can plan over a number of years to actually build programs. We're thrilled to look now and see, just over the past three years, the programs that have started, that have been able to take hold and are really starting to become community-owned and -operated sustainable programs that then allow us to move our focus on to new start-up programs across the province.
MR. GLAVINE: Marie, did you say there was a specific product for the Canada Winter Games? Was there anything specifically earmarked through that, or if not, was there any consideration for that since there are some legacy aspects of the Canada Winter Games? I know in the Annapolis Valley just the improvements to Martock have been pretty substantial, so I was wondering if there was any funding in that line?
MS. MULLALLY: Yes. Through the Support4Sport program, an allocation of $1 million has been made to the Support4Sport Canada Games Legacy Fund. That fund will be administered and managed by Sport Nova Scotia. It will be distributing funds over the next 10 years after the games have left to cross the province to a variety of communities to help fund sport equipment. We've learned in working with Sport Nova Scotia and the sporting organizations that sport equipment is a critical part and a critical need, to ensure that we can offer the kind of sport that provides the benefit and the impact that we want in Nova Scotia. This is going to be a very important funding source to continue the legacy of the Canada Games so we're still seeing the benefit of them across Nova Scotia beyond 2011, and I think it's going to have a very significant and positive impact on sport.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Your time has elapsed. Just before I turn the floor over to the Progressive Conservative caucus, I'd like to introduce the students who are just about to leave in the gallery. I know they've only been here for a few minutes. They're from the Department of Health, and I think there are around 12 or 15 students who are getting an overview of some of the government functions here today.
I would hope that you're coming back in the afternoon when we have the Legislature sitting at 2:00 p.m. I think that would be another interesting time. We do welcome young people to come and visit and hope that through that you get an interest in government and citizenship, so welcome again.
At the same time I would like to introduce two people from our Auditor General's Office. That is Terry Spicer, who is often here joining our committee, and he has with him today his daughter, Claire Spicer. We also have Dana Jasper and her daughter, Taylor Richter. I would like to welcome you all.
Again, I know the students are on their way, but do come back this afternoon. Thank you.
Now I'm going to turn it over to Mr. MacLeod for the next 20 minutes.
MR. ALFIE MACLEOD: Thank you, and I welcome Marie and Jamie here today. Prior to this program being put in place, how did Nova Scotia rank as far as supplying funding to young athletes?
MR. FERGUSON: Well, we ranked. Not that well.
MR. MACLEOD: Or it was rank.
MR. FERGUSON: I put the "ed" on. We most often try to look at similar-size population provinces - Saskatchewan, Manitoba, those areas. We were significantly below the type of annual funding that went toward sport in comparison to those two provinces. In all likelihood they were probably double or more than double what we were actually putting into our sport system on an annual basis.
MR. MACLEOD: With that in mind, this program has developed sports here in Nova Scotia significantly?
MR. FERGUSON: Yes, it has developed them very significantly. Like I said, we're still just a little bit behind where those provinces are. However, any time you have almost a 200 per cent increase in your resources you can make significant changes to your system. Really, that's what we've just begun to do with this type of funding. We really believe that these community and grassroots programs do take a number of years if you're actually going to develop them properly so that they last, and we're now in a position to be able to do that. We are starting to see the positive results from some of those programs.
MR. MACLEOD: I'm just wondering if any of the groups or teams that understand where the funding comes from, have they ever expressed concerns about the fact that their teams are being funded by money that is coming from gambling?
MR. FERGUSON: We've never received any complaints or any expressions of concern from any of the groups that we've dealt with in that area or, to be completely honest, we haven't received any expressions otherwise either about the program. All of the pieces of feedback we get on the program have been extremely positive.
MR. MACLEOD: That would have been my thought on it but I just wanted to sort of get it out in the air there because research shows that about 75 per cent of Nova Scotians approve the Support4Sport program. So with that in mind, I'm sure they have an idea where the funding comes from.
What has the Support4Sport program done for sport funding in the province overall? Again you just said it was about a 200 per cent increase but in terms of significance, and again I'm relating back to the answers that you gave to my colleague, I mean it sounds to me like this program has taken off substantially in the last four or five years and, again, I would just like you to repeat or highlight that a little more if you could.
MR. FERGUSON: Sure, what you have seen over the last number of years is, every year, a steady increase in the number of provincial and community sport organizations that have received funding for their grassroots programs. So what we have now are more people and more programs in communities across the province, in terms of grassroots development. I think that that piece, in and of itself, is very significant because, for instance, in a lot of cases those grassroots programs charge registration fees and with those fees they try to pay what would be their hard costs.
So they try to make sure that they can recover the facility rental, the cost that it might be to have their officials and coaches get their certification levels to deliver those programs. What they can't afford to do then is to pay another piece on top of that for equipment, for gear for the children to take part in sports like lacrosse, football, you know, wrestling, the mats. Those types of things are significant investments that can't be recovered through a registration because it would simply make the programs unaffordable. Support4Sport has allowed us to step in with those programs and say we'll get the mats. If you have a sustainable program with enough registrants that you can run your operational program on a year over year basis, or you had the opportunity to get there, we'll put the seed money in. We'll put the equipment pieces in place for you that you can then simply maintain as time goes on. So that has made a significant improvement in a lot of cases, you know, we have 60 different provincial sport organizations and I'd say 160,000 members.
The other important thing that this has done is it has allowed us to reach out beyond the memberships of these provincial sport organizations to new communities, to new participants that aren't necessarily captured in that number because these are outreach programs that are helping to grow sport. So it has allowed those programs to go on as well. Some of our sport organizations, in fact probably less than half, have full-time employees. So you're looking at organizations that might have budget lines of $15,000 to $20,000 annually. They simply don't have the ability to help any of their community members start programs. This program helps that happen.
In our Canada Games areas there simply was extremely limited funds for any actual training of Canada Games teams. It has allowed us to actually have year-round Canada Games training for those types of athletes who couldn't be supported previously unless the athletes and their parents were supporting it themselves. In some of the larger sports they had bigger numbers, they had a little more corporate support. There are a lot of sports that aren't as high profile that simply don't have the opportunity to do that and these types of funds have allowed those benefits to take place. They've offset costs for some of our athletes, our high performance athletes who we hear about so much who can stay at home and train now, who don't have to move away, who don't have to leave the province, who can stay here and speak at our elementary schools and be great examples for our young children who are taking part, to see the types of achievements they can make if they stay in place.
So it has been an extremely significant program for us simply because it allowed us to help our members and their community members to start programs that wouldn't have been affordable previously.
MR. MACLEOD: Thank you very much for that and, you know, it brings to mind a family in my constituency whose son got involved in kick-boxing in different areas, but now we have three boys in a family and each of them holds a Canadian title at different weight classes - three brothers in the same family for kick-boxing. It's pretty amazing what effect a sport can have, and what is going on.
Of the 60 groups that you spoke of, would it possible to give us a percentage of those groups that you have been able to help with your funding?
MR. FERGUSON: If I look right here, for participation projects last year, of those 60 provincial sport organizations we funded 40 of them - that is for projects alone, and there are another 36 of that same group of 60 that access Canada Games funding. So over the three years that the program has been in place, we would have serviced almost every provincial sport organization in one way or another. Whether they are accessing funds for coach development or officials development or community-based participation projects or their Canada Games programs or some of their high-performance athletes, this program really does touch every level and every scope of the sports system across the province.
MR. MACLEOD: That's quite impressive, actually. So what would happen if tomorrow somebody decided that this isn't the way to go and we stopped - what would happen to our sports programs in Nova Scotia?
MR. FERGUSON: It would be hard for me to say, because I might be doing something else. (Laughter)
Essentially, immediately we'd have the loss of the technical directors and provincial coaches that we have been able to put in place, who have been able to actually go out and work with coaches across the province on their coach development for their program - those positions would end.
We've been able to supply part-time staff mostly based on about a day and a half a week for 12 different provincial organizations so that they could actually apply for these types of programs and have the ability to get involved - that would end. Most of these provincial sport organizations and their community sport organizations would see a loss of funding that probably would be in excess of 50 to 60 per cent of their entire budgets.
Our athlete support line would drop to the extent that our top level athletes would again be dependent entirely just on their federal government funding through their sport carding, and the athletes in our lower high-performance tiers who we're affecting now would
lose all of their funding entirely. Our Canada Games training programs would lose in the area of $480,000 in their training programs and would reduce them, in all likelihood, to in the area of maybe $5,000 to $10,000 a year in total, for all of their Canada Games training.
MR. MACLEOD: So, in simple terms, it would destroy you.
MR. FERGUSON: I think what you have to look at essentially is yes. We're looking at, previous to this, annual funding that I think was in the area of about $1.5 million a year. So now we're looking at double that money, through the Support4Sport program. Those would be significant cuts in any industry, in any system of development.
MR. MACLEOD: Thank you. You mentioned earlier there are other provinces that have similar programs. How successful have they been in comparison to Nova Scotia?
MR. FERGUSON: Oh, I think they've all been successful in their own way. What we've seen - and we were the leaders in this and, again, we were pleased with the work that we did with Health Promotion and Protection and with the Gaming Corporation to recognize the fact that we put a significant focus on participation programming, and I think that has been one of the things that has moved us ahead.
I think that Nova Scotia is seen nationally as a leader in terms of making sure that they get their programs out into communities, because we recognized quite some time ago the benefits that exist in sport participation, not just in the area of health, but in the other social areas we've recognized the fact that sport is an economic engine. I think across the country it's maybe just a little bit over 1 per cent of the GDP. I know sport tourism, for example, is consistently one of the top one or two pieces of the tourism sector across Canada, so all of those broader benefits that we recognize here we know we can't realize unless we do two things: one, the programs are quality programs so the benefits get delivered; and two, the programs are delivered to a large number of participants. It's that participation development focus where we've been ahead of the game and it's why we think we'll start to see the benefits.
MR. MACLEOD: Thank you. Marie, is there a specific formula as to how the dollar amount comes about for the Support4Sport program?
MS. MULLALLY: The program was established to be focused on specific ticket lottery products that have been allocated or branded to the Support4Sport program. They are ticket lottery products that are typically in the marketplace. In some instances they've been products that have been well established in the marketplace such as a Break-Open ticket or a Crossword ticket. Most recently, as I noted, the Twist product has become a key funding source for the Support4Sport program.
We have watched that particular product do extremely well, which of course directly correlates to an increase in funding for the Support4Sport program, so a very positive outcome. Typically they're products that are already in the marketplace or newly developed that we believe align well with the intention and the objectives of the Support4Sport program. We ensure that the products are branded with the Support4Sport logo so that people who buy the product know that the monies are going toward the Support4Sport program.
MR. MACLEOD: I just wonder, is there a specific line value that you put toward trying to get for Support4Sport every year and if there are any plans on increasing that line. Considering the benefits that have been outlined by Jamie, are there any thoughts of trying to increase the amount of funding that's available, especially with the Canada Games and other such functions coming?
MS. MULLALLY: There is no question, I think Jamie has done an excellent job in describing the importance of sustainability of this funding in order to continue to grow and develop the many programs that have benefited from this funding. What we work toward is to ensure that at a minimum there is a $2 million contribution being made to the Support4Sport program. Having said that, the actual allocation to the program is dependent upon the performance of the products that are associated with the program.
Typically, in our budgeting process, obviously, we look at products that are going to be part of the Support4Sport program. We look at their past performance. We consider our anticipation of performance in the upcoming year to ensure that at a minimum a $2 million contribution is being made to the program. Why that's so important - and as described by Jamie - is that once you've developed these programs, and you've implemented these sport programs, it's critical to know that annual funding is going to be available so that those programs can continue to provide the positive impact and, in fact, an increasingly positive impact on the health of the province. That's typically through our budget process. We look at the products, we look at past performance, the expected performance in the upcoming year, with the objective to ensuring that at a minimum a $2 million contribution is made. At the end of the day, it's the overall performance of those products that determines the funding amount to the Support4Sport program.
MR. MACLEOD: Thank you for that. I think, Madam Chairman, for now, those are all the questions I have and thank you very much.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Very good, then we'll turn the floor over to the NDP caucus. Mr. MacKinnon, you have the floor.
MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Madam Chairman, it's great to have Ms. Mullally with us today and Mr. Ferguson and also, as you have mentioned, to have some students
here, I think, is very important as we're talking about sport and the support that is there for sport.
However, I think my most important question is, we have talked so much about sport and the benefit of sport, which no one can deny, but I would like to talk about responsible gambling for just a couple of moments. My concern is that, I would say, in all 52 constituencies of the province we know of people who are, in fact, lining up every day to get involved with various types of gambling. What my question is, how much money is the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation spending per year or spending last year, for example, and how does it compare with other provinces?
MS. MULLALLY: Let me say that responsible gambling is a critical part of NSGC's mandate and its operations. We fully agree that responsible gambling must be at the forefront of all of our decisions and ensure there are programs available to all Nova Scotians that, if those who choose to gamble, that they have the information in order to gamble responsibly and to provide information to the public about the risk associated with gambling. So that if people are participating they are doing so with an informed choice perspective.
In Nova Scotia, I'm very proud to say, we've continued to invest considerably in responsible gambling programs. In the most recent fiscal year, we contributed $7.8 million towards responsible gambling programs, treatment and prevention programs as well. Based upon an independent review of all jurisdictions, Nova Scotia spends the most on a per capita basis in this area. For NSGC, that contribution has translated to approximately 13 responsible gambling prevention and education programs that are available across the province.
In the most recent fiscal year, we directly reached over 95,000 Nova Scotians through these programs and we will continue to invest because we believe prevention is critical when addressing any form of addiction. Education is essential so people are making informed choices and they have the information tools in which to do so. As we look to our upcoming fiscal year and as we plan our budget process, responsible gambling and investments in the use of programs continue to be a very important priority.
MR. MACKINNON: Thank you for that, a very good response. You mentioned the per capita amount in Nova Scotia being high. Is it fair to ask the dollar figure per capita that we would be spending and perhaps a comparison with other provinces?
MS. MULLALLY: My recollection was that it was, on the adult population, approximately $6.50 per person. In comparison, the closest amount would be half of that in the next jurisdiction that would be spending in this area. We're considerably higher than any other jurisdiction in Canada and in this area.
I would also say, Nova Scotia should be proud that we've been leading in this area for some time. In fact, responsible gambling programs began in Nova Scotia in early 2000,
2001, 2002. We were the first jurisdiction in the world that began to implement education and prevention programs to the broader public and to our player base in order to facilitate responsible gaming decisions, to facilitate informed choice and ensuring that people have the tools in which to make the right decision.
MR. MACKINNON: I'm really pleased with our per capita amount as you have mentioned being so high and I'm glad you're continuing to focus on that.
One of the things that I probably don't understand fully is the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation received certification from the WLA. What does that mean exactly and who or what is the WLA? What was the process to get that certification?
MS. MULLALLY: Yes, the WLA is the World Lottery Association which is an association group that has been established for many years and represents over 70 countries around the world who operate ticket lotteries in their respective jurisdiction. Over the last three years the WLA established responsible gambling standards for its members as well as responsible gambling principles. Through that process, they created a certification program whereby jurisdictions could put forward a submission in order to be certified at an appropriate level in terms of their commitment and their efforts and effectiveness in responsible gambling programs.
We submitted an application to be certified at a level four standard, which is the highest standard of responsible gambling in the global market. We did that approximately a year and a half ago and I can tell you it was an extremely rigorous process. We prepared numerous documents, evidence, confirmation and verification of the various programs we offer in Nova Scotia. That was verified by a third party expert to ensure accuracy and confirmation and what was critically important was not only to articulate the nature of the programs but their overall impact and effectiveness on the population.
So through that process we developed numerous binders of material which were submitted to an independent panel made up of renowned experts in the field of both problem gambling and responsible gambling. These were individuals from around the world who are very well known, not only in the industry, but amongst the research community and amongst this expert community as being ones who are absolutely specialized in this field. So the selection panel, or review panel, conducted a thorough evaluation of our submission and I'm proud to say that we were successful in achieving the level four standard - the highest standard of certification - from the WLA and, in fact, we were one of two jurisdictions in the world to be the first to receive this recognition because of the leadership that this province has provided in the field of responsible gambling.
MR. MACKINNON: So, you indicated there are 70 countries involved with the organization. I suppose that some of those countries have very limited regulatory controls and very loose gambling guidelines. So does this organization have an annual forum or, in
fact, is there something that takes place in one of the member countries to share some of the ideas that leaders like Nova Scotia would have to share with others?
MS. MULLALLY: Absolutely, the WLA has a number of forums in which information is shared and ideas are exchanged. As you note, each jurisdiction or country has different standards, different regulatory frameworks, different legislative requirements in the area of gaming, and I think we should be proud in Nova Scotia and in Canada to the extent of the legislative regulatory framework that we do have to ensure that we have the highest standards of integrity and security in our gaming environment.
There are a number of meetings that are held during the year. There is a Social Responsibility Committee of the WLA that specifically focuses on responsible gambling. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation and Michelle Carinci, the president of that organization, have played a leadership role in bringing forward these standards and principles to the broader global community.
I can tell you that it was a significant undertaking because there are different standards and perspectives of the level of control or regulation around gaming in different countries around the world. So the effort to create these principles and standards was a multi-year effort and involved many individuals making a concerted effort to bring forward a universal standard that was reflective of not only the principles of one country but also the principles of Canada. So there are many opportunities to exchange information and certainly the Gaming Corporation has participated in meetings and discussions with the other members of the WLA and I think it's an excellent forum in which to continue to promote the importance of responsible gambling.
MR. MACKINNON: Marie, with your high level of knowledge in this field, have you been able to go to some of the forums yourself and participate?
MS. MULLALLY: Yes. In fact, in the last few years the Social Responsibility Committee actually met in Halifax and it was an excellent opportunity to meet with individuals from around the world who are equally committed to promoting and pursuing responsible gambling efforts within their jurisdiction. So I attended the meetings, it was a two-day meeting, and one of the things that this group was doing was further developing the standards around responsible gambling. I had the good fortune that they asked me to speak to the group so I had an opportunity to present the work that Nova Scotia has been doing in this area and the work of the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation. It was very well received and very much recognized as leading the way in the area of responsible gambling. It's something that other jurisdictions are now emulating as a standard that they also want for their jurisdiction.
MR. MACKINNON: So is level four the highest level to be achieved?
MS. MULLALLY: Yes, it is.
MR. MACKINNON: Getting back to sport and perhaps for the benefit of the youth whom we still have with us, what do we know - and this is a general question for sure and I'm sure you've touched on this already and I'm also sure that you could spend all our time this morning talking about this - but what do we know about the benefits of sport in relation to health? Jamie.
MR. FERGUSON: Well we know that there are obviously a broad number of benefits that sport has to health, and when we talk about health, not just the absence of disease. We really speak to health in a more general definition, one that was endorsed by the World Health Organization as to a broader sense of well-being, so physical and mental health, social development, all those aspects. We know that sport, again by itself, is not the solution to all of our issues, although we'll certainly take as much credit as we can, but the reality is it plays a part in so many different areas. It helps with preventing chronic disease; it helps combat the obesity issue; it helps in terms of social development; so education, social capacity, all those types of things. Sport really does play a key role in the social development of our children.
I'd like to say a couple of things about that health piece. A lot of times I say sport isn't a diet pill, it's broader than that. It plays an important role in the health of our society as a whole. I also like to say that Jackie Robinson's legacy was not a washboard stomach. There are a lot of broader societal goals that could be met by involvement in sport. The reality is that it plays such a huge part in our fabric, we now see programs that are being run in different parts of the country for new immigrants, to get them involved in sport programs, to help them acclimatize and get integrated into their communities. Sport can help in so many of these social development areas, justice, education, it really helps us build vibrant, healthy communities, as well as people, in our province and across our country.
MR. MACKINNON: I think you've already answered the amount and the value of the Support4Sport program. Hypothetical questions, I believe, are the hardest questions to possibly answer but I want to put one to you. Can you tell us, hypothetically, what life would be like in five years with, and in five years without, the Support4Sport program in Nova Scotia?
MR. FERGUSON: I think, perhaps, even to extend the hypothetical, we could talk about 20 years, so let's talk about a Nova Scotia having had a generation of our children having had the opportunity to participate in sport. We would talk about increased economic prosperity that sport does help generate in the economy. We'd talk about healthier children. We'd talk about improved performance of our children in education. We'd talk about reduced instances of crime. In essence, we would be talking about increased social
development and the capacity of our communities across the province, as opposed to continuing in many ways to be faced with the same problems we're faced with now, in terms of the chronic disease issues we're looking at, in terms of some of the youth crime issues that we're dealing with now.
Sport, in conjunction - and I think this is important - in conjunction with other partners and stakeholders can have a positive impact in many of these areas and that's why we think it's not just important to continue to run these programs, we think it's important to reach out and expand our partnerships. We do a lot of work right now with Health Promotion and Protection and they've been great partners. In addition, we also do work with Community Services, we do work with Labour and Workforce Development. We think we also need to increase the partnerships that we see with the Department of Education. We think we need to find more ways to work with the Department of Justice because, in a lot of areas, we're trying to achieve the same goals. So not a four-year- or a five-year-cycle, but within a 20-year-cycle because we are talking about generational change. We'd see a healthier Nova Scotia, we'd see a more vibrant Nova Scotia, we'd see a Nova Scotia with more possibilities and on the flip side, essentially we wouldn't.
MR. MACKINNON: I had the pleasure of speaking to a gathering of gardening clubs last month. We were sort of drawing the contrast between when some of us were youths and the youth of today. In my neighbourhood no one really had a lawn mower and families were so big and they were outside playing kick the can and all kinds of other games. We actually had to go down the street to watch the black and white television at a neighbour's house, that's how far back I go.
The obesity end of things is something that really concerns me. I think whatever you can do in relation to that because all of us, I know myself, I get too many calories and not enough exercise. Whatever you can do for obesity in this province, particularly starting with youth, is going to be fundamentally important. Can you comment on that?
MR. FERGUSON: I actually also was one of those children who was told not to come back until suppertime, so I can share that experience for a number of reasons. I think you're right on, there are a number of causes of obesity, obviously, we've had a number of looks at these issues and there are multiple factors. Just being part of sport isn't going to eliminate that problem, but it is going to have an impact on that problem.
One of the things we've stressed is sport organizations to recognize that we're actually in a marketplace just like everybody else with a product. We do compete for people's disposable time and their disposable income. The reality is video games and television have treated themselves as products for quite some time and it really hasn't been that long that sport organizations have said, these are our pieces of competition, these are the things that we're competing against. I think what you've seen in the last five to 10 years is a number of organizations that have put programs in place, modified programs, specifically
for children, specifically for first-time participants, to make sure that there's success and enjoyment at the first opportunities in hopes of increasing participation, I think that's what we're starting to see now.
To give you a couple of examples, in baseball which some of us, if we can stay up late enough have watched some of the World Series, where the mound is 60 feet and six inches away. There are now programs when five-year-olds start to play baseball where the ball is simply placed on a tee and those are the types of programs that have ensured success. It's those types of modifications, lighter equipment, simpler equipment for manoeuverability for children. Smaller playing surfaces, fields of play, all of those things are the things that we need to continue to do to make sure that the product we're offering is competitive and has a chance to take its place in a marketplace.
None of those things, obviously, can be done without the support of programs like Support4Sport, that allow us to access that equipment, that allow us actually to try those things out, to develop those pieces of equipment so that we can then get them out and distribute them to communities, sports organizations across the province. We recognize the important role that we have to play, we take it very seriously and that's one of the reasons why we continue to try to push these programs.
MR. MACKINNON: I just want to thank both of you for appearing here this morning. You're both so enthusiastic about your respective roles, I really appreciate you being here. Thanks a lot.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Our final round will be 15 minutes each, I'm going to turn the floor over to Mr. Glavine for the Liberal caucus.
MR. GLAVINE: One of the questions I asked in the first round was about the importance of this line item that comes from Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation toward Sport Nova Scotia. I was just wondering, maybe a comment from both here, but more directed toward Ms. Mullally, is around the whole issue of the future of the Gaming Corporation. I know a little bit like on-line gambling, the minister has certainly mused in some corridors about the future of the Gaming Corporation. Where do you see things going at this stage and where will things be in, let's say, six months' time?
MS. MULLALLY: The government, as you know, is currently developing the next provincial gaming strategy for Nova Scotia. This process has been underway this year and as the minister, and I think the Premier indicated, the strategy will be brought forward at the end of this year or early in the next year. The strategy will be a very important framework in which gaming will operate in Nova Scotia over the next five years. We look forward to receiving that strategy as, I'm sure, other stakeholders who are involved in the industry.
Upon receipt of that strategy, I think we'll have a very clear indication of the direction the gaming environment will be going toward over the next five years. We welcome the opportunity to review it and consider its potential relevance to the industry, not only for the Gaming Corporation, but also for our operators.
MR. GLAVINE: That leads to something I guess I can't let go of and that is around the whole business of a gaming strategy. We know that we had one in place, and government didn't make it public, yet the Gaming Corporation through Stephen MacDonald, I believe, had at least about 10 meetings during the course of Anielski developing his report. If it was so bad, why didn't the corporation, through Steve MacDonald, have some input to let Nova Scotians in on a very important piece of the gaming strategy?
MS. MULLALLY: First I'd like to clarify strategy versus initiative. In 2005, the Province of Nova Scotia introduced the first Canadian Integrated Gaming Strategy of which there were very clear guiding principles, goals established for the gaming environment for the next five years. Within that strategy there were approximately 23 initiatives that were identified as critical to move forward those principles and those goals.
One of those initiatives, which I believe you're speaking of, is the socio-economic study. As you're aware, that particular initiative was led by the Department of Labour and Workforce Development and continues to be led by that department, who, I believe, has spoken regarding the status or the nature of the work that was done on that particular initiative. You're correct to note that there was representation from a variety of organizations in a committee structure of which there was an independent chairman who led this particular initiative. We had a representative on that particular committee who would have provided our gaming expertise to the discussion, but was one of many inputs and many different perspectives at the table.
The process, and what has transpired with that initiative, I think is best addressed by the Department of Labour and Workforce Development. I think it's only appropriate that if this is their initiative, I think it would be appropriate for them to comment on it. Suffice to say that it was one of 23 initiatives contained in the broader strategy and the Department of Labour and Workforce Development would be most able to speak to the nature of that initiative.
MR. GLAVINE: There's one thing Jamie alluded to this morning is the polling shows that Nova Scotians like the idea of some money coming from the Gaming Corporation toward sport. Maybe it brings some degree of comfort, this alignment, when we know that it is gambling dollars, nevertheless, no matter what way we look at it. For the most part, buying a ticket is fairly benign, but still it is sometimes for some people a movement towards greater degrees of gambling. I was just wondering if the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation has other directed programs where dollars are directed?
MS. MULLALLY: There are other areas in which gaming revenue is allocator- directed largely by government policy and direction - the first is to the harness racing industry. Approximately $1 million is directed to the industry on an annual basis, pursuant to direction from Cabinet. Those monies have been provided over the last number of years to support the continuation of that industry in Nova Scotia. In addition, there is approximately $3 million annually contributed to the Department of Health Promotion and Protection to support their prevention and treatment programs, and that particular allocation arose from the development of the 2005 gaming strategy. There is also a $1 million contribution through the casino operations to the addiction services operation in the province, again, to support problem gambling treatment services. Those are the primary allocations or direct dedication of gaming revenue to specific programs.
MR. GLAVINE: I guess in my own thinking - and perhaps as Jamie alluded to - in a kind of a perfect world we wouldn't have these dollars coming from the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation to Support4Sport. I think in some ways it tells us that the Department of Health Promotion and Protection is not really as committed to sport as a vehicle for a healthier Nova Scotia; otherwise we'd let all the funds from the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation go into general revenues and have them filter back, if you wish, in a general sense through sport, through the Department of Health Promotion and Protection.
I guess it's a different model in a way that I would look at it because I think the lead here for a healthier Nova Scotia is not so much what the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation does, and even with its revenues, but absolute commitment from the Department of Health Promotion and Protection that we will take the province in a different direction. Jamie, I was wondering if you would comment on that.
MR. FERGUSON: Well the area of Health Promotion and Protection that we deal with is the Physical Activity, Sport and Recreation division of the Department of Health Promotion and Protection. Our contact and work with them has been excellent. The work we've seen through the people we deal with has been very positive. They've been at the table with us every step of the way through the development and the delivery of the programs; in fact they remain at the table as part of the delivery and feedback on this program as it develops now.
As to the broader context of what you're saying for the department as a whole, it is difficult for me to discuss what path or avenue I would see them going on. I deal with one area of that particular department and I have to say that the people we've dealt with, from the deputy to the senior director of that division to the director of sport and their other staff, have been committed and have helped, co-operated and helped us try to make sure that we're addressing this program as strategically and efficiently as we can.
MR. GLAVINE: I just want to touch on another area because once we talk about - I know Support4Sport does have a good perception with Nova Scotians and that's fine, but we're still using gambling as the means, the mechanism, to provide those dollars. I know from my conversations with you, Ms. Mullally, that you do have, certainly at that personal level and, hopefully corporate, a very sincere desire to create a greater climate around responsible gambling; however I am still not convinced that what we're doing is really having the best outcomes, and I would like for you to provide the committee here today with some evidence that responsible gambling programs, in fact, actually work, actually help. I'm hearing that the My-Play System, most people can use their cellphones to track what they play. I hear from people in other jurisdictions who feel that they have to do it. The real winner here is Techlink - all the way to the bank.
MS. MULLALLY: I first would like to comment on the role of gaming in supporting sport - I know we've addressed a few of these points, but just to highlight them. The historical linkage or the creation of the ticket lottery was, in fact, to support sport - something that was very broadly embraced by all Canadians back in the 1970s. That historical linkage, as you probably also know, is something that many people still think exists today. So most people think that ticket lottery profits and revenue are, in fact, all earmarked to sport and they view that as a very appropriate way to fund something that's critically important to the health of the province. I think also, as we look at the Support4Sport Program, there is an 88 per cent support for the program, with the knowledge that the funding source is ticket lottery.
The third thing that I think we shouldn't lose sight of is the thousands of ticket lottery products that are offered by sport organizations every year. You can go to a Mooseheads game, you can go to my nephew's hockey game and I'm buying a ticket, and it has been one of the primary sources of funding and fundraising by sport organizations probably since almost the beginning of time. So the fact that it exists - I don't think the relevance of the Gaming Corporation versus sport, quite frankly, is as relevant as the fact the ticket lottery has been an historical, widely accepted, strongly supported form of funding for sport, and that is still true today here in Nova Scotia.
With regard to responsible gambling, I think there are a number of things that are important to measure in terms of effectiveness. We work very hard to make evidence-based decisions and to conduct research where possible to ensure that we have validated the overall effectiveness of a program before it has been implemented and, of course, evaluate it subsequent to implementation to ensure it's achieving its intended objectives.
One such program that you referenced is the My-Play System - one that we are very proud of here in Nova Scotia. It is a world-first initiative that is the result of an extensive independent research effort that was conducted - in fact, a live field test that occurred in the Mount Uniacke-Windsor area in 2006 - which proved and showed that there was positive behavioural impact because of this system. In other words, it helped certain players to make better decisions about their gambling than if they didn't have the tools and the information
available through the system. That research was conducted by three world-renowned experts in the field of problem gambling and responsible gambling. As a result of that research, a focus group, and surveys of players and retailers as well as our operators, we have moved forward the implementation of the video lottery My-Play System in Nova Scotia. It's now available on the approximately 2,800 video lottery terminals throughout Nova Scotia.
So when we talk about the system, what's quite important to note is that this is a preventative tool. This is about giving players proven effective tools and information to help them make informed decisions and responsible decisions about their gambling activity. The experts say that if people have this information they are more likely to make more appropriate, more responsible decisions, and in doing so can contribute to a lower future incidence of problems associated with gambling.
We talk about the health care system and making the linkage to sport and how important prevention is in our health care system - well, equally important, prevention is critical when we talk about problem gambling. Surely the members want to prevent someone from having the devastating impact of being a problem gambler and being addicted. The investment is worth it if only one, perhaps ten individuals, because of these tools and information, are prevented from going into the addiction of problem gambling, and that's why we invest significantly in the research and in the delivery of these programs that have proven through that research to have a positive impact on the responsible player who is currently a low-risk player or a no-risk player - but having these tools keep them in that category of play.
As you know, over 93 per cent of the people who play are in that particular category, and we want to keep them in that category and we'd like some of those who are currently showing some signs of potential problems, some risk behaviour, that with this information, proven through the research, it can help to facilitate them to a low-risk or no-risk categorization so they become a responsible player. That is why we support and embrace the development and the implementation of this kind of program.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Your time has elapsed. Thank you very much, Mr. Glavine, and with that we'll turn it over to the Progressive Conservative caucus.
MR. MACLEOD: Marie, you had mentioned about some of the profits from casinos and where they go. Was it my understanding that also there are some benefits to charitable groups from casino revenues? I wonder if you could elaborate on that a little bit.
MS. MULLALLY: There are a number of programs that, under the 2005 Gaming Strategy, have been implemented in support of the charitable sector and these are largely programs that we deliver through the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation. One such program
is called the Charitable Sector Support Program. What we have done through this initiative is identify ways that we can help charities help themselves and to help support their fundraising efforts so that they are sustainable, viable organizations that can continue to provide enormous benefit to the communities in which they reside.
The Charitable Sector Support Program offers first a bingo product that is available to charitable organizations and bingo halls to offer, with a significant profit going back to the charities. We also offer community casino nights, of which we just recently held one in Bridgewater in support of the Health Foundation. The community casino night is really a fundraising effort, like a Monte Carlo-type event, whereby the charity uses this forum in which to raise money for their good causes and their specific needs as a charitable organization.
We offer, through the community casino nights, staff - we volunteer staff from the Gaming Corporation and from Casino Nova Scotia. They come and join the volunteers from the charitable organization as volunteers who run the evening. They provide support in training people on how to play the various games like blackjack and other forms of Casino Monte Carlo Night-type of games. We also provide support in marketing and advertising to those charitable organizations to help them promote their event - I want to be clear, we're not there promoting gambling, we're there to promote and help the charity raise monies for things that are making a significant difference in their community.
The other thing that we do under the Charitable Sector Support Program is offer fundraising seminars. One of the things that we learned in the delivery of this program is that many charities need assistance to know how to raise funds. There are not many resources available to them, particularly for the smaller organizations, as to how and the guideline in which to maximize their fundraising potential. We, over the last several years, have offered fundraising seminars in various parts of the province, where representatives from those charities and charitable organizations come in and learn about how to raise funds. We bring in experts to assist - we're obviously not experts in fundraising, but we bring in experts - we also bring in the body that licenses charities so that they understand the process, how you go about getting a lottery licence in order to run a charity event. So that has proven to be very effective.
People who attend the seminars have given it an over 90 per cent effectiveness rate in terms of giving them tools and the information to help themselves. The community casino nights have equally been received in a positive way by the organizations that we partner with to assist them in raising funds for their good work.
The Charitable Sector Support Program has been of significant benefit to the charitable sector in Nova Scotia. Our job is really to help facilitate and use our expertise and time in order to help them provide the greatest benefit they can to their own organizations.
MR. MACLEOD: It was my understanding that some of the profits from casinos were supposed to go back into the communities, and I wonder if you could elaborate on that because, as we all know, casinos were brought here to Nova Scotia by the former Savage Liberal Government when the people of Nova Scotia said they didn't want them. So part of the sway was to make sure that a certain amount of profits went back into the communities, and I wonder if you could talk to that a little bit, as to what amount of profits may or may not go back into the community from the casino in Sydney versus the casino here in Halifax.
MS. MULLALLY: I believe you are referring to a proposal at the time in the mid- 1990s that a certain portion - I think it was 50 per cent of the profits - would be going back to charities from the Sydney casino. My understanding, and this was before my time, before I joined the Gaming Corporation, is that proposal did not move forward and at this juncture is not part of the model.
MR. MACLEOD: When my colleague from Kings West talked to you about responsible gaming and you talked about the process that was in place, the company that delivers the services for you, can you elaborate a little bit on that company?
MS. MULLALLY: As I noted, the My-Play System was extensively researched, in 2006, in terms of its overall effectiveness. As a result of the findings in the research
we proceeded with a request for proposal and a competitive procurement process in order to select a vendor who would develop the technology and the system required in order to permanently place this concept into Nova Scotia.
Through that competitive process, which involved a very extensive evaluation framework, the company Techlink, a company located in Cape Breton, was selected as the vendor to develop the technology in the system for the My-Play initiative.
MR. MACLEOD: Was there interest shown by a number of companies from across Canada or maybe even around the world?
MS. MULLALLY: I recall that there were a couple of companies that expressed interest. There were two companies that were shortlisted and were part of an extensive evaluation, including vendor presentations, meetings, follow-up discussions and reference checks. There were several technology companies that put forward their organization as a potential vendor for the system, through the procurement process.
MR. MACLEOD: At the end of the day it was a Nova Scotia company that was successful in obtaining the contract, so therefore putting some more Nova Scotians to work and helping the system, all within our own province. The benefits from that contract are staying within Nova Scotia.
MS. MULLALLY: Yes, Techlink has been in this field of responsible gaming technology for a number of years. They were the developer of the device that we piloted and tested in the Mount Uniacke-Windsor area, so they certainly had developed and had proven technology in this area.
Having said that, the global gaming industry is made up of some very significant technology companies, a number of which came forward for consideration in this RFP process.
MR. MACLEOD: But a Nova Scotia company won.
MS. MULLALLY: That's correct.
MR. MACLEOD: If I could, I'd like to ask you your thoughts on the announcement of the government saying that we're not going to be getting involved with on-line gambling - which I thought was a good announcement and I congratulate the government for doing that - what, if any, effect will that have on the long-range planning of the Gaming Corporation?
MS. MULLALLY: First, I would note that the decision on the on-line gaming is one which we appreciate the government coming forward with its position, because it is a government policy decision about what forms of gaming take place in Nova Scotia.
I think the overall and long-term impact of the current policy decision is not fully known at this time. Having said that, speaking to experts and those who have been following the emergence and growth of on-line gaming, as well as mobile gaming, across the world, I expect there will be an impact on our business; there will be an impact on revenue; there will be an impact on the customer base. The actual extent of that impact is not fully known at this time, but there will be an impact.
MR. MACLEOD: And do you expect that impact to be negative or positive?
MS. MULLALLY: On the financial, if we look at our mandate, the economic sustainability side, there would be a negative impact associated with it. The extent of that impact is the level of confidence we have on how much on-line gaming is taking place today in Nova Scotia. As you know, there have been a number of statistics that have been brought forward around what the prevalence of on-line gaming by Nova Scotians is today. There have been a number of figures communicated by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation and others as to what extent this activity is taking place.
At the end of the day, the extent to which that grows over the next five to ten years will determine how significant that impact is on the revenue and the profits coming from the gaming industry.
MR. MACLEOD: Just one final question. With the thoughts that gaming revenues are going to decline, what impact do we see that having on our Support4Sport Program?
MS. MULLALLY: The ticket lottery business line is certainly a mature business line - it has been around since the 1970s. What we strive to do is continually look for ways to innovate the products and the product offering and, as I noted earlier, ensure that the products that are associated with the Support4Sport Program are stable products, ones which our analysis has indicated are expected to perform well in the marketplace. Through our efforts to ensure that the funding is there, I'm very confident that this funding source is sustainable and will continue to benefit sport in the long term.
MR. MACLEOD: I want to thank the two of you for being so forthright with your answers. Madam Chairman, that would conclude our questioning for now.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: I did have a question, if I could. I'd like to know if you could tell us what mobile gaming is - that's a new term for me and that was in your answer. I don't know if other members had heard that before, but since there's extra time left for the Progressive Conservatives, I'll ask that.
MS. MULLALLY: Mobile gaming is the next evolution of Internet gaming. It's the use of personal devices like BlackBerries or telephones to access gaming products. As you may know, in their newest product, the Torch, BlackBerry actually has the first gaming application which allows people to bet and spend money on their actual device.
Currently the mobile gaming market is estimated to be about $20 billion globally, and it's viewed that it's going to grow significantly and exponentially in the next five years, largely because of the accessibility. As you know, mobile devices can access the Internet, so you can access the 2,500 Internet gaming sites through that means. What's also happening with many mobile units is that the technology providers are actually developing gaming applications in which they profit from as well through selling the device to the end consumer. So it is the next growth area for gaming, but I will say technology has become the growth trajectory for many consumer products, not just gaming. But this is a great example where technology is starting to drive the way products are being offered and accessed by different parts of our population.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Could I just clarify? Did you say $20 billion right now, worldwide?
MS. MULLALLY: Yes.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: I'd like to turn the floor over to Ms. Kent for the NDP caucus.
MS. BECKY KENT: Thank you very much, Madam Chairman. First of all I certainly want to thank you for coming in today. I know that your knowledge and, really, the impact that you are both - and your department and you, Jamie - having on Nova Scotians is a vital and critical part of the success of our province.
I want to speak very quickly - and Jamie, you'd be familiar with my personal situation - I can certainly speak to this from my heart and also on a community perspective, but on a personal level, I have three sons who are very athletic and involved in many activities. They really have had the benefit and the experience right from being very young and accessing local community activity to provincial events, provincial opportunities to national opportunities. Subsequently, I have children who are doing very well in table tennis.
Their dad, who is a Paralympian, in fact just came home last night from Korea, so the benefits of these kinds of programs are very near and dear to me. Needless to say, since 1974, believe it or not, I too was an athlete. I say that because I think you touched on it, and certainly my colleagues here touched on the impact and the investment that we are putting into communities in Nova Scotia through our sports programs. The investment is in our youth, certainly, but really all ages, because sport is not just the activity of young people.
I think the number was around direct impact to 160,000 citizens in Nova Scotia - and, Jamie, you touched on this - but really we are touching the lives of everyone when we are contributing to athletic and sporting lives in our communities. The spinoffs are just exponential, frankly, because we are engaging people in healthy activities and we're giving them leadership opportunities through their coaching and mentoring programs at whatever age. It could be a young athlete who's taking on a young coaching basketball assistant coach program in their community to a senior citizen who has decided to put their experience back to work in a local community.
In our Canada Winter Games that are coming along, Nova Scotians are going to be very engaged in that and proud to be part of that from every corner of our province and the money that we're providing through this Support4Sport Program, it's immeasurable, frankly. Also, I value the sense of accountability that people get through this kind of support from government, that the money that is coming to them, there is an expectation, and I think in our world today sometimes people forget about that accountability factor, and this is an area that, on a very local level, they're reminded of that and they're held to it.
Frankly, I think sport builds character and that's a very positive thing these days and I want to commend you. The physical and mental health of Nova Scotians, clearly - there's lots of data and lots of research about that. I'm very pleased to see the money that is garnered
through this type of process, through gambling and gaming, that it's going to such a positive experience.
One of the questions is - I'm not sure who it is for, in fact - how do we ensure that the money that is going to our local communities, the money that is going to an organization that is supposed to meet and get to the athlete or the team, how to we ensure that, in fact, it is getting there?
MR. FERGUSON: When we grant money to community sport organizations, we actually have received their application and we review it and send them their allocation and then we require a report back from them on what their activities were and actual records that the activities took place. When those activities and those reports have been filed with us, that's when we release the final 20 per cent of the funds for the projects themselves. It has worked for us in a number of ways, actually. Sometimes we get money back because they haven't needed all the money - the equipment didn't cost quite as much as they thought; sometimes we get applications back to say, you know, this coach development opportunity that we wanted to send our coaches to has been changed, it's going to be here, can we do it for this one instead, and here's how much that one is.
Because of this relationship we have a chance to be as efficient as possible with the delivery of our funds. We get reporting back in all instances for these types of community sport organization allocations, and we have a holdback on some of the funds until the final report is put in.
MS. KENT: And on the flip side of that, what's the process between your organization and the provincial department that has the flow of money coming from it from Nova Scotia Gaming? What is your process there?
MR. FERGUSON: We send, every quarter, a report to the Gaming Corporation, that details all the different programs that we're running under Support4Sport. It has all of the allocations that have been included in each of those programs, as well as the financial report. In addition to that, obviously, our statements are public, so we're audited by an independent auditor each year and, in fact, we had the pleasure of being selected by the CRA this year for an extra audit, which was great - so all of those things. Also, our annual report is sent to the Gaming Corporation - they see our statements, they can review them at any time, in addition to the quarterly reports that we send.
Beyond that, they are aware of all of the programs that we're running, so when we sit with Health Promotion and Protection and at Canadian Sports Centre Atlantic, and we've said, yes, these are the main areas we want to invest these funds, we think the system needs investment and participation development, we think it needs investment in coach and leadership development and officials, we think our Canada Games Program needs to be supported, our high performance athletes, those areas, and even the programs underneath
those that we've decided to run, we meet with the Gaming Corporation to make sure they are aware of what those programs are, so they are in agreement with that as we go forward. Then, again, we send a report in each of those specific areas on a quarterly basis as to how those have been and what monies have been allocated that quarter.
MS. KENT: Your organization, I describe it as perhaps an arm's length from - I'm not sure, can you describe what the nature of your organization is, so we can understand that?
MR. FERGUSON: We're a non-government, non-profit, federated organization. We have 60 different provincial sport organizations, they make up our membership. For instance they, every year at our annual general meeting, have to receive our statements from the auditor, they have to approve them, they have to elect our board of directors. Our board of directors then, in turn, will go out and hire someone for my position and then we fill out the rest of the staff. In essence, we're working for the members we have and the organizations we have to try and provide services and help them advance their programs.
MS. KENT: Just so I understand what the impact is or the importance of this money to your mandate and achieving your goals, where is your funding coming from? Is there federal funding, is there corporate sponsorships, is there fundraising and what element of this Support4Sport, where does that fit in there?
MR. FERGUSON: The answer to all those questions is yes. We try to get funding from as many different areas as we can. We do have a significant amount of corporate support; we also have some federal funding for different programs that we run that fit within the federal mandate. We have funding from the provincial government as well, again for programs that fit within the mandate.
Support4Sport funding through the Gaming Corporation is actually the largest single line of revenue that comes into our organization. So when you take into account all those different organizations and different mechanisms and agencies and partners, Support4Sport is the largest single revenue line that we have in our budget.
MS. KENT: Thank you very much, and I guess my question about you reaching the athletes, the organizations, the grassroots programs, the higher-level, elite athletes - what would be the uptake or your impact on all of Nova Scotia? The Halifax region being the capital with the larger percentage of the population, we have an entire province and we want to make sure that when we are providing public money that it's reaching every cross-section of Nova Scotia - can you give me some feedback on that?
MR. FERGUSON: Sure. Our community sport organizations that receive our funds actually have been spread out all over the province, so those community organizations can be from anywhere and most of the time they are from all over, so that money is all over the province.
Our provincial sport organizations actually have mandates to run their programs as widely spread throughout the province as they can. In fact, part of the funding that they receive in some instances from Health Promotion and Protection is dependent on how broad their reach is, how many different regions of Nova Scotia that they set up programs for. Now there are some sport organizations, obviously, that are restricted. It's very difficult to have skiing, for instance, where there are no hills, or paddling where there are no pieces of water that you can use, but for the most part, where it's possible, they try to be as spread out as they can and they are expected to do that, so it is a broad reach.
Further to your point of reach, when we talk about the 160,000 members, again, and how this money has allowed us to step outside that membership to try to recruit more people and run programs for people who aren't necessarily members of sport organizations, I believe the last Stats Canada survey that came out had Nova Scotians over the age of 15 years participating in sports at a ratio of about 30 per cent.
I think you also touched on something very important - there are literally thousands of volunteers in this province every day who are running our soccer practices, they are taking care of our volleyball programs, they are organizing schedules for leagues, and they are trying to make sure that there's a facility booked at this type of place - thousands every day who are involved in the sport system. Sport is usually either the first- or second-largest sector for all the voluntary sectors across the country in Canada, so the number of hours and the number of volunteers is really enormously significant. That's the system that we talk about when we talk about our sports system and that's how broad the impact is across the province. Again, any time you have a single program like Support4Sport that is your largest revenue line, it really does help us reach out to all those different communities and all those different participants in our sport system, whether they be the athletes or the coaches or the organizers.
MS. KENT: That certainly wouldn't be news to us as MLAs, and I say that with respect to the community engagement that we have within our communities. I think about the requests to our offices for financial support and I certainly would say that a high majority of those for my office, and no doubt my colleagues', are very much linked to sport. So when I think about that, I ask myself often if I can, or if I can support and I'm limited, where else can I lead these organizations or these teams or these athletes in a direction that can help them achieve their goals? Of course, Sport Nova Scotia is one of them, but in the absence of them coming to me and me directing them to you or through a local organization, how are you getting your message to our communities that these funds are there for them?
MR. FERGUSON: We normally try to use our network of provincial sport organizations and their membership. So, for instance, we communicate out on a regular basis about these programs. They're listed on our Web site. Those pieces of communication go out to our 60-plus provincial sport organizations, or whatever the number happens to be that year, and then out to their own sport organizations, their minor organizations, across the province. So we use that network to try to get the word out.
In addition to that, we believe that the awareness campaign that was put on is another way to try to get that message out. I think you are going to see with the announcement of the legacy, for instance, through the Canada Games, a significant uptake. Those are the types of opportunities that we try to use to make sure that as many organizations as possible are aware. Further to that, we actually deal with a number of different stakeholders to try to get the message out there and partner. So Health Promotion and Protection, for example, has people working in the different regions of the province. They're aware, they're on our list of people we contact, so they can also direct the people they work with to those programs. There are school boards that we partner with to try to make sure that the word is out in the community that way. So we use all those types of networks to try to make sure that we can get the word out to our organizations and their community organizations.
MS. KENT: Do you have a designated target for persons with disabilities or high risk, or just people in the community who are disadvantaged, special needs, or disadvantaged in some way financially? Is there a target for that at all?
MR. FERGUSON: Some Support4Sport funding actually does go out to some of our community organizations for programs, for instance, for sailing for those people with physical disabilities - that type of equipment - so we're able to fund some in that mechanism. Now some of the funding has also been instrumental in co-operation with Health Promotion and Protection and the Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic in allowing us to establish a ParaSport coordinator position just recently. We're really excited about that, and that's going to allow us to target programs specifically in that area, working with both the provincial and national sport organizations. We also have an advisory committee that we're putting together that will include other stakeholders. So rehabilitation centres and those types of organizations that deal with those types of programs are going to be part of the initiatives that we're going to be launching over the next year, in addition to trying to enhance some of the programs that work there now.
We also run programs - actually, one program - funded through the Department of Community Services and Labour and Workforce Development, that's targeted specifically at youth who are experiencing barriers to either employment or post-secondary education, and that has been going on for six years now. In fact, we've seen somewhere in the area of about a 90 per cent success ratio in that program of these youth either going back full-time into post-secondary education or full-time into the workforce. One of the bilateral agreements we have through Health Promotion and Protection and the Public Health Agency
of Canada is one that's targeted at females in the junior high age who historically tend to drop out of sport, to try to run an after-school program to get them more involved in the sport, and it's targeted in communities where there seems to be a higher at-risk ratio.
So we try to target some of our programs ourselves in that area where there are funds available to do so, but in a more broad manner, most provincial sport organizations that have a parasport element to them actually partner with their national sport organizations and they can access Support4Sport for funding as well.
MS. KENT: Thank you. Again, keep up the great work and I'm going to offer the floor to my colleague.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: That's right, there is extra time, so Mr. Preyra if you'd like to ask a question, that's fine.
MR. PREYRA: Just a quick question. Ms. Kent's question reminded me that I was at the Italian Club last week and one of the seniors was saying, how come you don't have bocci and you don't fund bocci? When we were growing up we always had these courts and we'd sit down and play cards. I'm wondering, do you actually see those as sports? I don't want to get into too much trouble with the Italian community, but how do you define sports? Do you get into non-traditional sports, sports with seniors and things like that, or is there any line going that way?
MR. FERGUSON: Generally, our membership needs to be a provincial sport organization which has a few parameters around it. You need to be recognized by Sport Canada, their national body. They need to have a national body or an international body in place so we know there are some standards and quality control pieces around that.
Having said that, we see sports, and some come in and out of our membership depending on their popularity, in a wide variance. There are a number of sports, not just older sports coming back, but new sports that previously hadn't been members in all kinds of areas. More specifically, to your question though for seniors, there are a number of sports that are lifetime sports that offer opportunities to take part at every level, from world championship level right down to recreational levels. Those opportunities are offered through many different provincial and community sport organizations. Again, those are affected by the funding that's available from Support4Sport.
One of the things we're proud to say about that is that it really does fund every part of the sports system - ages, demographics, ability levels. It allows us to have an impact on all those different levels. I truly believe that as we've been working on modifying sport experiences for children - I talked about where we're competing for that leisure time, we're competing with other types of products in that marketplace. I also believe that we're going to start to see, and I think we're seeing now, modifications of sport, as well, for people to
continue to participate as they get older so they can continue to enjoy the sports that they participated in before and find opportunities to engage in new opportunities to stay in sport and stay physically active.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Thank you Mr. Ferguson. Just before we turn to any closing comments you might have, I wonder if you could later provide for us, Ms. Mullally, earlier in one of your answers you mentioned 93 per cent of players are low-risk players. I think it would be of great interest to all of us just to see the rationale for that and how it's determined. I'm sure you must have that available, so if you could, at a future time, send that to us?
MS. MULLALLY: Certainly. The data comes from the Department of Health Promotion and Protection 2007 Adult Gambling Prevalence Study, which is readily available on their Web site as well as on ours. I should clarify, the 93 per cent was the no risk, so those who are gambling are playing without any issues. The low risk is a number within that other 7 per cent, so that was a no-risk category. It comes from that study that is commissioned by the Department of Health Promotion and Protection.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: It may be a question for another day, but some years ago when you were here we were talking about 50,000 Nova Scotians being at risk. That was from an earlier study again, so I was just surprised to hear that 93 per cent of the players - I think you're talking about players - are not at risk.
MS. MULLALLY: Correct.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: So I was interested to know what that was based on. That would be a great help, thank you. I'll turn it over to you for any closing statements.
MS. MULLALLY: Thank you. It has been a pleasure to be here today to talk about the Support4Sport program. I don't often get to do that and I certainly don't often have the opportunity to not talk for most of the session. So I greatly appreciate the presence of Jamie Ferguson on many fronts, but most importantly, I do have to say - it's a very true statement - the leadership that Jamie Ferguson has brought to sport in our province is absolutely exceptional. It has been my good fortune, and the Gaming Corporation's good fortune, to be working with someone of Jamie's calibre as well as the calibre of his whole team in the development, creation and implementation of the Support4Sport program.
So, I will tell you, we play a small part in this process, but a very willing part. The success of the program goes to Sport Nova Scotia, to the sport community, to the thousands of volunteers who make the system work, and to the Nova Scotians at all levels of participation at all ages that have the opportunity to truly benefit from sport. Thank you very much for this opportunity today.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Ms. Mullally, and I would say by and large it has been a good news story all the way around in terms of the Canada Games and the investment in young people and, really, people of all ages in our province. We do look favourably upon that, I'm sure all of us, because it makes a difference in our communities.
With that, we have no committee business, so with a motion we will adjourn.
MR. MACKINNON: So moved.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. We are adjourned.
[The committee adjourned at 10:57 a.m.]