Ontario Introduces Legislation to Protect Amateur Athletes from Concussions
New Law Would Make Province a National Leader in Concussion Management and Prevention
Ontario introduced legislation today that would, if passed, protect amateur athletes by improving concussion safety on the field and at school.
The proposed Rowan's Law (Concussion Safety), 2017, would, if passed, make Ontario a national leader in concussion management and prevention by establishing mandatory requirements for:
• Annual review of concussion awareness resources that help prevent, identify and manage concussions, which athletes, coaches, educators and parents would be required to review before registering in a sport
• Removal-from-sport and return-to-sport protocols, to ensure that an athlete is immediately removed from sport if they are suspected of having sustained a concussion and giving them the time required to heal properly
• A concussion code of conduct that would set out rules of behaviour to minimize concussions while playing sport.
In honour of Rowan Stringer, the 17-year-old rugby player whose death resulted from sustaining multiple concussions, the proposed legislation would also establish the last Wednesday in September as "Rowan's Law Day". Ontario is inviting the public to comment on the proposed legislation until January 29, 2018.
Making organized amateur competitive sport safer is part of Ontario's plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.
- The proposed legislation is part of the government’s response to the Rowan’s Law Advisory Committee report for the prevention and management of concussions in amateur sport released in September 2017. Chaired by Dr. Dan Cass, the Rowan’s Law Advisory Committee was established to review the coroner’s inquest recommendations made following the death of Rowan Stringer.
- In Ontario, 22 per cent of students reported being knocked out or admitted to hospital due to a head injury in their lifetime. In Canada, among children and youth who visit an emergency department for a sports-related head injury, 39 per cent were diagnosed with concussions, while a further 24 per cent were possible concussions.
- Ontario became the first jurisdiction in Canada to address concussions through legislation when it passed the Rowan’s Law Advisory Committee Act, 2016 on June 9, 2016. The proposed legislation acts on recommendations made by the Rowan’s Law Advisory Committee.
- Ontario’s current work to increase awareness about concussions includes a web portal with information and resources on concussions, and a Sport Recognition Policy that requires all recognized provincial and multi-sport organizations to have policies on concussion management and return-to-play.
- In 2014, the Ministry of Education issued a policy/program memorandum requiring all school boards to develop and maintain a policy on concussions.
“We have heard from Ontario families that they want to know that their children are protected by a safe sport system where everyone understands concussions, actively minimizes the risk, and knows what to do immediately if someone is concussed. If passed, the proposed legislation would empower athletes to raise their hands if they think they or their teammate might have sustained a concussion.”
“I want to express my gratitude to all those who made this possible. This would not be the Gold Standard in Concussion Legislation that I believe it will be, without the incredible work put in by government and members of the Advisory Committee. I’m proud that Rowan’s Law will be the benchmark for Canada in Concussion Surveillance, Prevention, Detection and Management.”
“I am thrilled that the government has moved forward so quickly and decisively with the introduction of legislation – Rowan’s Law – as recommended by our Committee, and by the jury from the coroner’s inquest into Rowan’s death. This is a significant step forward in changing sport culture and positions Ontario as a leader in Canada in concussion safety in amateur sport.”
Dr. Dan Cass
“I am pleased Ontario is starting to take the necessary steps to minimize concussions while educating how to address the injury when they inevitably occur. We need to look out for one another! We need this legislation passed.”