The federal government’s decision to decline the proposal to have gym memberships and services as a tax deduction included in the budget is a huge disappointment for Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) and all Canadians.
“We understand that there were a lot of demands on the government in this budget, but the ask wasn’t simply for the benefit of the fitness industry – it was for all Canadians,” says Scott Wildeman, FIC President. “The fitness industry has been decimated by the pandemic, suffering financial ruin and tremendous job losses. We were hoping this tax deduction would help breathe life back into the industry. But we will move forward, with or without government support, because we are resilient, and exercise benefits all Canadians.”
FIC plans a major rollout of the Prescription to Get Active, a program that links physicians and health care providers with recreational fitness facilities in communities across the country. Each fitness facility involved in the Prescription to Get Active commits to providing 30 days of fitness for free. Together, FIC and Prescription to Get Active share a goal of getting 1.2 million Canadians active. This initiative positively impacts the employment of young people, the fitness industry as a whole, and the health of Canadians.
Sara Hodson, the advocacy lead for the federal tax deduction, was equally disappointed with the budget, but says that the message that exercise is medicine cannot be ignored, and FIC will continue to advocate for the health of Canadians.” We presented the government with considerable data about the protective health benefits of exercise, for chronic illness and improved mental health, and how exercise can be used to reduce hypertension, protect the heart, and improve blood sugars,” says Hodson. Diabetes Canada, Heart & Stroke and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society all endorsed FIC’s proposal to make gym memberships tax deductible.
“As fitness leaders, our mission is clear,” says Hodson. “Canadians need trained exercise professionals to help lead them out of the dark times of the pandemic. Exercise is essential. Why the government failed to act on this is a question we should all be asking. But FIC will continue to look out for the best interests of all Canadians, and that means getting exercise to everyone who needs it. This isn’t over.”
For interviews with Scott Wildeman and Sara Hodson please contact: Erin PhelanFitness Industry Council of Canada416-822-8621