OMHA expresses support for the relaunch of Play On! Canada

January 26, 2024

Attention: The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, P.C., M.P.

Minister of Sport and Physical Activity House of Commons

Dear Minister Qualtrough:

We are writing to convey our wholehearted support of the Play On! Canada organization, its stated mission to preserve street hockey as part of Canadian heritage and culture, and its efforts to deliver mass participation community street hockey events nationwide that unify and build Canada one game at a time.

We are grateful to the Government of Canada for its support of the Play On! Canada organization through the Canada Summer Jobs program in 2022 and 2023, and through FedDev’s Tourism Recovery program in 2022. We understand that each of these funding programs has been delivered by Play On! Canada in accordance with program requirements and, subsequently, recognized as a success story. Like FedDev and Service Canada, we also trust the board and management team of Play On! Canada and wish to convey our full support of the Government of Canada’s consideration in awarding future funding to the organization based on their applications and merits, including for programs offered through the Ministry (SSDIC, Gender Equity and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) as well as through the Regional Economic Development Agencies of Canada and future Canada Summer Jobs programs.

We also wish to convey to you our full support for the recommissioning of The Canada Cup and the awarding of it to the winners of this national street hockey event beginning annually again in September 2024. We will also be communicating this support to Hockey Canada.

Play On! events have operated across Canada since 2004, and many OMHA associations have been engaged supporters of the project promotionally since its inception. It is a made-in-Canada project that we can all be proud of. A truly Canadian sports organization, it has operated 179 events in a total of 41 communities, in every Province, reaching more than two million Canadians.

The events held in Ontario have been large and well attended, with 52% of participants not playing Ice Hockey. Play On! Canada holds the Guinness World Record for largest street hockey event, with over 42,000 participants in its largest season. It was growing at nearly 30% annually when CBC funding of the program was withdrawn after CBC lost NHL broadcast rights to Rogers.

Play On! Canada’s Board and management are well regarded throughout the business community and sport communities throughout Ontario. We echo the words of those Senators who have risen to express that this organization has the proven ability to deliver a nation building event that we can all be thrilled to associate with, and which is needed now more than ever before. We also echo the sentiments expressed by Niagara (Liberal) MP Vance Badawey, who asked: “What would be more appropriate for Canadians than to pick up their sticks and run outside for a game of street hockey? And if it’s the national game, then why not play it across the nation, together?”

Street hockey is part of Canada’s sport heritage and culture, loved equally by those who grew up in the country and by those who are new to it. It is a form of the game that can be played by all Canadians in every part of Canada. A national event built upon street hockey and culminating with the awarding of the Canada Cup will surely result in many more Canadians playing and falling in love with the game. It will also help neighbourhoods reconnect and inspire physical activity amongst youth. We are excited to see many more Canadians participate in Canada’s favourite game because of this program.

The Canada Cup is an important part of Canadian history, culture, and tradition. It is a symbol of national unity that ought to be preserved for generations to come. We can think of no better way, no more inclusive way, to celebrate the purity of hockey and Canadian sport, heritage, and culture than by awarding the Canada Cup to the winners of this world- class event, Play On!


Ian Taylor
Executive Director
Ontario Minor Hockey Association