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. This tax incentive would elevate Canada as a global leader by becoming a nation that supports and promotes health and wellness as part of a national health care strategy.
“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 Fitness Industry Council. “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 the 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”.
The Fitness Industry Council of Canada presented the idea of a medical cost tax credit to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland last week, providing hard facts to back up this proposal. Currently, more than 80 percent of Canadians do not get the recommended 150-minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise weekly; the financial cost of activity is estimated at more than 15 billion dollars. If the government were to implement this tax incentive, and if even only a small percentage of the population 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.”
The Fitness Industry Council of Canada represents more than 6000 facilities across the country, employing over 150,000 people. “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.” The Fitness Industry Council is poised to roll out the Prescription To Get Active program across Canada to align with this newly proposed tax credit.