Rowan’s Law – Concussion Legislation Update

*This post was revised and updated on June 13th, 2018

The Ontario government recently passed ‘Rowan’s Law’, which is concussion management legislation that will affect every sport organization in Ontario. Importantly, however, although the law has received royal assent and one section has been proclaimed, the regulations have not yet been passed. Sport organizations are not yet required to take any action in response to Rowan's Law.

The legislation is formally titled Rowan’s Law (Concussion Safety), 2018 and it is named after a young rugby player who died after being tackled in a rugby match days after receiving an undiagnosed concussion.

The law will require sport organizations to take steps to identify and manage possible concussions, and ensure that athletes are not returning to participation too soon after receiving a concussion.

Although Rowan’s Law is in effect, many details and specifics need to be worked out and resources need to be developed before the law is in full force. These items will be contained in the ‘regulations’ to the legislation. Once the regulations are passed, the law will be in full effect and sport organizations will need to take action. The Ontario government is currently seeking input and advice as to what specifics the regulations should contain.

The regulations will ‘prescribe’ specific, yet-to-be-determined details that will impact how sport organizations must comply with the new law. New requirements for sport organizations will include:

  • Participants under a prescribed age must review prescribed concussion awareness resources before registering
  • Participants under the age of 18 must have their parents/guardians review the concussion awareness resources
  • Coaches, administrators, and prescribed individuals must review prescribed concussion awareness resources
  • Sport organizations must have a “concussion code of conduct” that satisfies the prescribed regulations and must make this code available to prescribed individuals
  • Participants, parents/guardians of participants, coaches, administrators, and prescribed individuals must review the “concussion code of conduct” before participating or coaching, as applicable
  • Sport organizations must establish a “removal-from-sport protocol” for athletes with a procedure as prescribed and for prescribed circumstances
  • Sport organizations must establish a “return-to-sport protocol” for athletes with a procedure as prescribed and for prescribed circumstances

The regulations are currently under development. We know that sport organizations will need to have concussion management resources (more will be made available by the government) reviewed by participants and coaches. Sport organizations will also need a concussion code of conduct, a removal-from sport protocol, and a return-to-sport protocol – but details for these items are not yet available.

With the passing of Rowan’s Law, Ontario is now considered to be a nationwide leader in concussion awareness and management. We can expect other provinces and jurisdictions to consider adopting their own similar legislation.

The SLSG has developed concussion management guidelines for sport organizations based on the 5th Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport (April 2017).  We are always closely watching for updates in this area and we look forward to the regulations for Rowan’s Law being released and new concussion management resources being provided by the Ontario government. We will be available to help your sport organization understand your new responsibilities and comply with the new law.

Our May 16th webinar will include this topic.

Steve Indig
SJI@sportlaw.ca

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