The Fitness Industry Council Of Canada (FIC) is asking the federal government to include fitness memberships and services as a medical cost for personal taxes. FIC said that the 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,” said Sara Hodson, the CEO of Live Well Exercise Clinic, and co-chair of the British Columbia FIC coalition. “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 FIC, stated that “fitness professionals from coast-to-coast are ready, willing and able to assist Canadians with creating lasting behavior 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.”

Fitness Industry Council Of Canada presented the idea of a medical cost tax deduction to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland last week, providing hard facts to back up the 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 inactivity is estimated at more than $15 billion. If the government were to implement this tax incentive, and if only a small percentage of Canada’s population accessed the tax credit, this could provide a 500 percent 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,” said 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 6,000 facilities across the country employing over 150,000 people.

“The industry has been hit hard,” said 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-to-25-year-old 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.”

Photo courtesy Flickr