ONTARIO RECOGNIZES THIRD-ANNUAL ROWAN'S LAW DAY

Published on September 30, 2020

TORONTO — On the third annual Rowan's Law Day, the Ontario government continues to champion concussion safety with an investment of $200,000 through the Concussion Legacy Foundation Canada. This funding will go towards producing a documentary film showcasing Rowan Stringer's life and highlighting the importance of recognizing the signs of a concussion in young athletes.

The announcement was made today by Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, Tim Fleiszer, Executive Director, the Concussion Legacy Foundation Canada, and Dr. Alexander Barron, Staff Physician in the Division of Paediatric Emergency Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).

"As we mark the third-annual Rowan's Law Day, it is important to recognize how far we have come in raising concussion awareness in amateur sports, and how far we still have to go," said Minister MacLeod. "Through this documentary, we will not only honour Rowan Stringer's story and legacy, we will also provide an important and lasting resource for coaches and classrooms across Canada to help them identify and manage concussions."

"As sports resume safely in our schools and communities, the tremendous efforts on the part of the parents, trainers, coaches, sports organizations, and our government are paying off when it comes to raising awareness about concussions," said Premier Doug Ford. "We will continue to advance the important work of Rowan's Law and make sports safer for everyone in Ontario."

Rowan's Law (Concussion Safety), 2018, was passed with unanimous support in the Ontario Legislature in March 2018. The law designates the last Wednesday in September as "Rowan's Law Day" in honour of the memory of Rowan Stringer, a 17-year-old Ottawa rugby player who died in the spring of 2013 from a condition known as Second Impact Syndrome, or a catastrophic swelling of the brain. 

"The unanimous passage of Rowan's Law at Queens Park in 2018 was a very special moment for Kathleen and me, another milestone in our journey after Rowan's death. This year marks the third Rowan's Law Day in Ontario; we have seen the marked improvements in concussion awareness and education in the first year, and the increased requirements on sports organizations for concussion protocols and codes of conduct in the second year. Now we look forward to an increased focus on health care practitioners, providing better supports and educational requirements to those tasked with addressing the multitude of potential issues and challenges faced by those impacted by concussion. Our hope is that what Ontario has done will be replicated across Canada because, in the words of Dr. Charles Tator, 'Rowan Stringer's death was preventable.' We must do whatever we can to ensure that her story is never replicated," said Gordon Stringer.

Through video, print and digital media, Ontario is changing the conversation about how concussions are handled through its award-winning #HitStopSit campaign. Ontario recently announced that it will lead a discussion about a national strategy for concussions at an upcoming meeting of provincial and federal Ministers Responsible for Sport.


Quick Facts

  • The highest rates of concussions in Ontario are found among children and youth under the age of 18.
  • Beginning January 1, 2021, Rowan’s Law will require amateur sport organizations to establish removal-from-sport and return-to-sport protocols, to ensure that an athlete is immediately removed from sport if they have sustained a concussion or are suspected of having sustained a concussion. The law will also require athletes to get medical clearance from a physician or nurse practitioner before they are permitted to return to training, practice or competition.
  • As of July 1, 2019, athletes, parents, coaches, team trainers and officials are required to review the concussion awareness resources and their sport organization’s concussion code of conduct, where applicable.

Quotes

"Minister MacLeod’s tireless efforts have made an impactful difference in increasing awareness for concussion safety. We will continue to work alongside the Stringer family, to raise awareness and prevent these tragic circumstances in the future."

- Tim Fleiszer
Executive Director, The Concussion Legacy Foundation Canada

"Rowan’s Law Day reminds us of the importance of concussion awareness and safety in amateur sport. Rowan’s legacy is to make sports safer for everyone."

- John Fraser
MPP Ottawa South

"The Stringer family turned their grief into advocacy, working to ensure that screening and treatment of concussions in Ontario will fundamentally change. They inspired collaboration among legislators, who set aside partisanship to honour the life of Rowan Stringer. Creating this law remains one of the best examples of what can be achieved at Queen’s Park when we work together for positive change."

- Catherine Fife
MPP Waterloo