A group of Canadians wants the government to make gym memberships tax deductible
Canada’s fitness community is raising concern over the federal government ignoring gym memberships and exercise in the recently announced budget.
The federal budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year dropped on Tuesday, and parts of it aim to expand Canadians’ access to healthcare. One of the top highlights of the budget is a dental plan for uninsured Canadians.
And that’s why the Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) is disappointed at the feds not revising tax forms to allow gym memberships to be partially written off as a medical expense.
“We are facing a healthcare crisis and an inactivity crisis that costs our government billions of dollars each year,” says Sara Hodson, president of FIC. “Exercise is medicine. Canadians should be incentivized to get that medicine.”
FIC had presented the federal government with recent data on how a physically active population could save Canada billions of dollars in healthcare costs. Accessibility is critical to enabling this.
In a press release, the Council reminded Canadians of a warning the World Health Organization issued to world leaders last year, stressing the importance of making policies to improve physical activity and public health.
“The WHO estimates that unless world leaders create effective policies, the cost of treating chronic health conditions will be CND $36.6 billion per year by 2030,” FIC noted, adding that Canada’s share of these costs is expected to total several billion dollars by 2030.
Executive Director of FIC Gabriel Hardy added that FIC’s research has shown that most Canadians would be motivated to join a gym if a tax credit was involved.
The FIC has requested the government to keep incentivized fitness in mind for next year’s budget plans. However, Hodson also pointed out that many Canadians don’t know where to begin with an exercise program.
“Exercise is medicine. It is essential that we relieve the burden chronic illness and mental health place on our healthcare system,” she said. “We have to treat, but also to work hard to prevent chronic illness and mental health in Canada. The best way to do that is to make physical activity accessible for all, especially now that we face a healthcare crisis.”
“We have a pandemic of inactivity not only in Canada but globally,” remarked Hardy. “Canada needs to be a leader of change. If we do not do something now, our healthcare systems will be unable to manage.”
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