Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) is working hard on a number of initiatives to make our industry stronger in 2022. We will continue to advocate and support the fitness industry.
Since the lockdowns were announced in various provinces, FIC has advocated for fitness businesses, meeting with provincial leaders to encourage a speedy reopening plan, all the while ensuring the safety of Canadians. We continue to meet with government leaders daily and will keep our members informed on these discussions in a timely manner.
This engagement has been one of the biggest successes of FIC in the last two years. We are the voice for the fitness industry and are able to advocate on behalf of fitness businesses across the country.
One of FIC’s biggest accomplishments in 2021 was to have the fitness industry included on Bill C-2, which provides financial support for business. When the federal government first announced Bill C-2 in the fall, the fitness industry was excluded from all financial assistance programs – therefore, we got to work – making sure the government heard our objections loudly and clearly. Fitness was then included on the Bill, which passed in December. Bill C-2 provides targeted support benefits such as wage and rent subsidies.
However, it is still not enough. Many fitness businesses are unable to qualify for the subsidies and funding, as the threshold for business losses stands at 35% (which can bankrupt many small businesses). In addition, the funding money provided is inadequate compared to the tally of losses incurred by businesses in the fitness industry. We will continue to lobby the government to lower the Bill C-2 threshold to 10%, and to lobby for additional grants and subsidies.
Throughout the past year, we were in constant connection and meetings with various levels of government – provincially and federally. We elevated the voice of the fitness industry and engaged in meaningful conversations with the Office of Health as well as the Office of Finance. FIC President, Sara Hodson, directly met with Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, and was able to propose making fitness memberships tax-deductible. We conducted data research in June 2021 that shows many inactive Canadians would be inspired to join a gym if their membership was partially funded by the government.
We now need to move to make exercise part of healthcare spending dollars. In 2022, we will continue to connect with government officials as well as with the media in order to be recognized further as the fitness association dedicated to saving not only fitness businesses, but the physical and mental health of Canadians. Exercise is a proven prevention and treatment tool for chronic illness, anxiety, stress and depression. We have to be part of the economic recovery as well as an integral part of the health system.
Fitness facilities have done everything we have been asked to do during the pandemic. We have reduced capacities, improved sanitation and health protocols, enforced mask mandates, and implemented “vaccine passports/records”. In many cases, the government engaged in discussions with us prior to provincial orders; however, with these latest lockdowns in provinces across the country, FIC was not consulted about the possibility of fitness staying open. Unfortunately, some provinces have continued to force fitness businesses to close while other businesses (such as malls, casinos, bars, and restaurants) remain open. We have been adamant on our position to work with the Government both federally and provincially to ensure the sustainability of our industry.
We will continue to advocate for fitness businesses to remain open. Fitness is an essential part of Canada. Many Canadians use the gym to stay mentally and physically strong, and to be able to manage the stress of their lives. Closing gyms has not taken into consideration the needs of Canadians.
On January 1, 2022, FIC launched a Save Fitness Canada campaign to inform the Government on the perspective and impact that the fitness industry has on Canadians, as well as a very active social media campaign.
FIC has created a strategic plan moving forward into 2022. We hope to build a stronger association with more Business Associate Members as well as Partners to work together to promote and protect the fitness industry.
Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) is the not-for profit trade association that represents the voice of fitness facility operators across Canada. Representing more than 6,000 facilities with more than six-million members nationwide, FIC pursues a legislative agenda in the hope of bettering the fitness industry for both consumers and operators. FIC aims to work with both industry and government to improve the health and physical activity levels of Canadians.