Ontario’s new Combative Sports Act Passes Into Law

Last month Ontario Introduced a combat sports bill which sought to overhaul how professional and amateur combative sports are regulated in the Province.  The bill has now passed into law.

On May 29, 2019 Bill 100 (Schedule 9 of which is the new Combative Sports Act) passed Third Reading and Received Royal Assent.  This means the Bill has now formally been passed into law and it officially comes into force “on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor“.  Presumably that will the the day the Regulations under the Act are ready.

This law creates major changes to the Ontario combat sports scene.  The Act allows for a far broader range of combative sports to be legalized in Ontario.   The following are some of the highlights

  • The Act regulates both amateur and professional combative sports which are defined as follows

     a sport in which contestants meet by previous arrangement for the purpose of an encounter or fight and,

      (a)  strike their opponents using their hands, fists, feet or any other body part or any combination of them;

      (b)  use throwing, grappling or submission techniques; or

      (c)  engage in any other prescribed technique.

  • It repeals the current Athletics Control Act
  • The Act requires the Minister in charge to appoint a Combat Sports Commissioner for the Province
  • Additionally a combative sports advisory council is created
  • The details of which combative sports will be legalized will be set out in regulations so many important details have yet to emerge.  The above definition is broad enough to allow any known striking sports such as boxing, kickboxing, muay thai, MMA and others.  It also allows professional grappling contests, amatuer grappling contests and most importantly discretion is built in for the Province to allow other combative sports by ‘designation‘.
  • The Act appears to break the monopoly Ontario handed Provincial Sports Organizations over amateur combative sports.  Presently Ontario recognizes various PSO’s and hands them monopoly power over their respective combative sport.  This legislation allows anyone to apply to the Commissioner for a permit to hold an amateur combative sport event in the future even if it is outside of the PSO monopoly model.  Section 43 of the Act notes that anyone who receives an “event permit” is deemed to have permission under the Criminal Code to host the event allowed under the permit.
  • When determining what Professional and Amateur combat sports are allowed the Minister is given broad power to pass regulations.  Specifically Regulations a)  setting out sports as combative sports for the purposes of subsection 1 (3); (b)  governing the conduct of an amateur combative sport contest or exhibition and the conduct of a professional combative sport contest or exhibition, including prescribing rules relating to such contests and exhibitions;
  • The Regulations even allow combative sports contests to be permitted with deviations to the published rules for those sports with Section 49(4) of the Act noting “A regulation made under clause (1) (b) may permit the Minister to exempt an amateur combative sport contest or exhibition or professional combative sport contest or exhibition from the rules set out in the regulation that apply to the combative sport, provided that the Minister is satisfied that the contest or exhibition satisfies such requirements as set out in the regulation.
  • Even if a sport has no rules published for it this Act allows events with unique rules to be permitted with Section 49(5) noting “If no regulation is made under clause (1) (b) prescribing rules in respect of a particular combative sport, the Minister may make regulations requiring a person wishing to promote, conduct or hold an amateur combative sport contest or exhibition or professional combative sport contest or exhibition involving the combative sport to obtain the Minister’s approval of rules that will apply to the contest or exhibition.”

The key details of what will be allowed in Ontario will be set out in yet to be published regulations.  What is clear is that this new law gives Ontario the ability to host the broadest range of professional and amateur combat sports in all of Canada.

The full Combat Sports Act can be found here.

 

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