The Fitness Industry Council of Canada is disappointed by the federal government’s 2023 budget omission to revise Line 33099 to make gym memberships tax deductible, but emboldened to deepen their efforts.
“We presented the government with recent data on how a physically active population saves them billions of dollars in healthcare costs,,” says Sara Hodson, President of Fitness Industry Council (FIC) of Canada. “And while we understand the government has many priorities, we hope they will work with us to promote physical activity and also explore ways to incentivize Canadians to get active.”
In November 2022, the World Health Organization issued a warning to world leaders to create policies around improving physical activity. The WHO estimates that unless world leaders create effective policies, the cost of treating chronic health conditions will be $CND 36.6 billion dollars per year by 2030 - Canada’s share of these costs is expected to total $6.24 billion dollars by 2030. Research shows that 50 percent of Canadians are inactive or completely sedentary.
Gabriel Hardy, Executive Director of FIC, says that the government needs to develop structured policies to get Canadians active. adding: “We have research that shows a majority of Canadians would be incentivized to join a gym if there was a tax credit. Our facilities and qualified exercise professionals play a pivotal role in improving physical and mental health” said Hardy.
The Fitness Industry Council, the industry’s national trade association, has been meeting with the federal government for three years to lobby to revise line 33099, where Canadians can claim medical expenses, arguing that gym memberships should be admissible as a tax write-off. The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has embraced the evidence - in 2021, they introduced a $2000 per year per family Physical
Activity Tax Credit in a solid effort to help their population reverse the crippling effects of inactivity by 2030.
“We are asking the government to start planning the 2024 budget today, and to listen to the experts on the imperative role physical activity plays in our health. Fitness facilities have trained professionals who work daily to improve the lives of Canadians,” says Hodson. “While exercise isn’t the only answer to complicated physical and mental health issues, we know that Canadians need 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity weekly, which includes cardiovascular and strength training and flexibility. Many Canadians do not know how to start an exercise program. We need to incentivize Canadians not only to move, but to seek the help of trained experts as needed.”
FIC recently met with policy makers, international lobbyists and doctors from around the world at the IHRSA global fitness conference in San Diego. One of the number one trends worldwide is exercise for prevention of chronic health conditions.
“Exercise is medicine. It is essential that we relieve the burden chronic illness and mental health place on our healthcare system,” says Hodson. “ We have to treat, but also to work hard to prevent chronic illness and mental health in Canada, and the best way to do that is to make physical activity accessible for all, especially now as we are facing a healthcare crisis.”
“We have a pandemic of inactivity not only in Canada, but globally. Canada needs to be a leader of change. If we do not do something now our health care systems will not be able to manage.” concludes Hardy.
For interviews with Sara Hodson and Gabriel Hardy, please contact Erin Phelan, email@example.com, 416-822-8621