Ontario to overhaul combat sport rules

Combat sport laws in Ontario are set to be overhauled in what the government says is an effort to draw more high profile events to the province and bolster athlete safety.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Michael Tibollo says the government plans to repeal and replace legislation that governs sports like boxing, mixed-martial arts and kick-boxing.   

The move would allow Ontario to bring regulations for such sports closer in line with evolving international standards.   

The minister says the current legislation is outdated, has deterred major combat sport promoters from holding more events in Ontario, and means the international sports are fought under different rules in the province.  

Tibollo says current combat sports rules are enshrined in legislation, making it hard to update them to reflect changes aimed at protecting participants based on the best available medical science.  

In Ontario currently, the government would have to open the law and follow a lengthy legislative process to make even minor changes to sport rules.  

The new law, if passed, would appoint a combat sport commissioner and an advisory council to offer recommendations to the minister on the most up-to-date rules.  

The government could then update rules through regulatory changes -- a much less time-consuming legal process.