Public Health Agency of Canada awaits written provincial support for CFL return to play plan

Before the Public Health Agency of Canada considers the CFL’s proposal to start a 2021 season, PHAC still requires each of the provinces to approve the league’s COVID-19 return-to-play plan.

Contrary to a recent national report, the federal government body tells 3DownNation that no approvals have been given by provincial jurisdictions.

“The Government is open to reviewing proposals from professional sports organizations that include a comprehensive public health plan agreed to by the Government of Canada and written support from provincial or territorial public health officials in jurisdictions where the events would occur.”

That statement again contradicts a national report in early May, posted online and revealed on the televised coverage of the Canadian Draft, that each of the six provinces had approved the CFL’s return-to-play proposal.

Gaining approval from PHAC is the major health and safety hurdle the league needs to clear to play games this year. In order to start the process with PHAC, the CFL must have signatures on plans from the six provinces who have teams inside their borders.

“The Government of Canada’s priority is to protect the health and safety of Canadians. The Government understands professional sports events are important for Canadians and to the economy.”

“The resumption of sports events in Canada must be undertaken in adherence to Canada’s measures to mitigate the importation and spread of COVID-19.”

So has the CFL, or any of its teams, received written support from provincial officials? Did the league submit a comprehensive public health plan to the Public Health Agency of Canada yet? 3DownNation asked the head office those pertinent questions and received the following statement as a reply:

“The CFL and its teams continue to work with government officials and local health authorities across the country regarding our return to play protocols to keep players, coaches and staff safe as well as our plans to safely welcome fans back into our stadiums.”

“We continue to work towards August 5th target date for the start of our regular season, contingent on a green light from governments to resume play and host a significant number of spectators. When we are ready to update the public, we will make an announcement.”

The league has delayed its start date with a 14-game schedule targeted to kick-off on August 5, culminating in a currently planned December 12 Grey Cup. For the timeline to be met, the league requires ‘a significant number of fans’ to be allowed in stadiums by municipal, provincial, and federal governments.

The league and players’ union began meetings during the second week of February with a focus on playing football this year. The two sides have submitted return to play health and safety plans to various levels of government in Canada and are working to finalize the details in hopes of getting the final stamp from the nation’s capital.

As coronavirus situations vary from Quebec to British Columbia, the CFL needs each of the six provinces to sign-off on its return to play health and safety plan to start the official process of putting football back on the field.

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