Fitness Industry Council of Canada Asks Federal Government to Make Physical Activity Tax-Deductible

·3 min read

It's coming up to tax season and with COVID-19 still bearing its flu-like head, we all are looking for more tax cuts or tax incentives.

We already get tax cuts for driving distances for specialists appointments and prescriptions but why not tax incentives be proactive activities such as going to the fitness center?

Well, the Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) is asking the federal government to include fitness memberships and services as a medical cost on personal taxes.

The Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) has taken its most powerful stance to improve the lives of Canadians, asking the federal government to include fitness memberships and services as a medical cost on our personal taxes.

"We are at a critical point with our physical and mental health," says Sara Hodson, the CEO of LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic, and the co-chair of the British Columbia FIC coalition. "The cost of inactivity is simply too high. We have to inspire and encourage Canadians to get moving again today – not next week, next month, or next year. It would incentivize Canadians if they were able to write off their gym memberships."

Scott Wildeman, President of FIC, states that "fitness professionals from coast to coast are ready, willing and able to assist Canadians with creating lasting behaviour change as it relates to physical activity. We believe our industry is uniquely poised to help get people started, and keep them going with a new active lifestyle. It is well documented that this will save our health care system millions of dollars each year".

Last week Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was presented the idea of the inkling medical tax deduction showing currently, more than 80 percent of Canadians do not get the recommended 150-minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise weekly; that cost is estimated at more than 15 billion dollars. If the federal government were to implement this tax incentive, and if very few people accessed the tax credit, this would provide a 500% Return on Investment.

"We know that Exercise is Medicine – we cannot refute the substantial research and data that proves exercise prevents and manages chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Knowing this, it is time for our country to stand behind the overwhelming data and empower Canadians to be more active," says Hodson. "Exercise is an effective prevention tool and treatment for mental health – which is a bigger concern for all of us, not simply in this pandemic but beyond. The impact on mental health after the Spanish Influenza of 1918 was felt for more than six years. The government has the opportunity to act, and it has to act now."

There are 6000 facilities across the country, employing over 150,000 people that the Fitness Industry Council of Canada represents "The industry has been hit hard," says Hodson. "This move by the Canadian government would have an immediate upside for the Canadian economy, and it would create thousands of jobs – especially for the 18-25 year demographic that is drawn to work in our industry. This is a win-win for the Canadian people, for the economy, and above all for our health."

Anytime Fitness Owner/Operator Jolene DeVries in Esterhazy was excited with this news and had this to say when contacted, ”For clubs across the country it would help to keep people employed, so there would be an upside to the local economies with employment. Hopefully, it would help community members get back into fitness clubs to help them improve their health.”

Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal