Parents across Northwestern Ontario are frustrated with the provincial government's latest COVID-19 restrictions pausing sports altogether for at least 21 days.
Mike Sveinson, a leader in the hockey community has taken it upon himself to become an advocate for youth sports as he started a petition calling on the government to resume sports after the 21-day pause.
In his petition, he asks for the government to be true to their word and resume youth sports letting kids play again.
“The notion of the petition was actually born from a Facebook post I made that was two-fold that was suggested to our hockey and sports communities to continue to stay positive,” Sveinson said.
“We are asking for community leaders and hockey and sport leaders not to cancel their program but to pause it. We don’t want to take anymore anyway from these kids, and we want the government to stay true to their word,” added Sveinson
As Of January 10, 2022, Sveinson has gotten nearly 5,000 signatures towards his petition.
“It’s been overwhelming support. One thing that I am extremely encouraged by is the opportunity for people to leave comments when they sign the petition. It’s really encouraging to see that kind of support and to know there are a lot more people that feel this way.”
Sveinson believes since the COVID-19 pandemic began discussions haven’t been had regarding the impacts of canceling sports, and this petition is a way for an open dialogue to give people a voice.
Being a father who has a son who is involved in sports, and his involvement with the Dryden GM Ice Dogs, Sveinson has seen firsthand the vicious impacts taking away sports has on athletes.
“I’ve seen more kids than I’ve ever had simply quit hockey. They’ve lost hope in their life plan that included receiving a scholarship or a career in hockey, they’ve just packed it in. There’s a real sense of sadness with these kids especially when they realize that it’s not happening everywhere.”
Ontario is one of a few provinces that has closed its doors to recreational facilities, which in the end has put a pause on sports. Provinces to the west such as Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and even Alberta have implemented restrictions that didn’t involve pausing or canceling sports.
“Leagues like Junior A and minor hockey are all operating and our kids are not. That’s something that I can’t stand and watch, and I think having some sort of action to try to rectify it makes me feel a lot better than just waiting.”
Sveinson concluded by wanting to share a message with parents and athletes.
“We’re all tired and all frustrated. The young athletes, the volunteers, and everyone involved will rise to the occasion. It appears there are two options. We cancel and give up or else we can pause and wait and collectively know once the pause is over sports will be there.”
More information on Sveinsons petition can be found here.
Following the winter holidays, Ontario released its latest COVID-19 restrictions that decreased gathering limits, closed restaurants, recreational facilities, and moved kids to virtual learning.
As per the Ontario government, these latest restrictions are to last to at least January 26, 2022 and are subject to trends in public health and health system indicators.