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Social Impact


Sport, physical activity, and recreation are powerful agents of social transformation, contributing an estimated $13.6 billion annually through volunteerism alone.


Volunteering is a robust contributor to Canada’s social fabric and economy. In 2020, Canadians contributed the financial equivalent of $13.6 billion of volunteer work to society through SPAR. Volunteering is essential for the sector’s survival and prosperity.

  • 27% of Canadian adults actively volunteer in sport-related activities, ranking third in volunteer hours contributed annually behind hospitals and religious organizations.
  • The SPAR sector significantly benefits from the dedication of volunteers, many of whom are motivated by social networking, community contribution, and a passion for sport.

Connection and Inclusion

SPAR facilitates a sense of belonging through social connection and inclusion and combats loneliness. This is particularly important for welcoming and integrating new Canadians into communities across the country and supporting inclusion of marginalized groups.

  • 76% of Canadians feel welcomed and included through SPAR activities.
  • Community-based SPAR programs, especially those engaging older adults, have the potential to reduce loneliness and improve social cohesion.

Safe Neighbourhoods

SPAR can contribute to creating safer neighbourhoods — especially when part of well-planned communities — by promoting pro-social behaviours that have the potential to reduce crime.

  • The perception of safety is a crucial factor influencing physical activity levels. SPAR initiatives have the potential to enhance community safety.
  • SPAR involvement may reduce antisocial and risky behaviours in youth. 69% of Canadians agreed that SPAR contributes to reductions in harmful behaviours such as suicide ideation.

Individual Development

SPAR can impact individuals, potentially contributing to academic achievement, employment, and life skills development.

  • The discipline, teamwork, and leadership skills honed through participation in SPAR has the potential to translate into personal growth and professional development.
  • One study on income-related benefits of SPAR found that regular participation in physical activity resulted in a 6% to 10% increase in earnings.