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Plus Side of Adult Tax Health Benefits

In November, Alberta MLAs passed a bill to offer physically active Albertans a $500 fitness tax credit.

In a vote of 24–20, MLAs narrowly approved a private member’s bill, sponsored by Calgary-Lougheed Tory MLA Dave Rodney, which will provide partial tax relief up to $500 per person on annual fees for physical activities.

It is still up in the air as to when the bill may be proclaimed law, which activities will be included and what percentage of the credit (portion of registration fees up to $500) will be reimbursed to Albertans.

The bill was sponsored by Calgary MLA Dave Rodney. The tax credit (originally proposed for $1,500, but scaled back to $500 in committee) will incent Albertans to be healthier and hopefully help to trim Alberta’s multibillion dollar budget.

The federal government already implemented a $500 fitness tax credit, but only for children, while Nova Scotia recently approved a credit for that province’s residents. The bill was supported from backbenchers, ministers and opposition members.

Recent research commissioned by the Fitness Industry Council of Canada suggests that an adult tax credit could increase the number of physically active Canadians by 1.5 million people if both the federal and provincial governments participate, and that health care savings could increase significantly over time. It could also significantly impact on work and productivity in reduced man hours lost to sick time.

The human cost of inactivity is disease and illness. The combination of our sedentary modern lifestyle plus aging population is deadly. Research shows that adults over 35—women and immigrants in particular—are the most likely to be inactive. There are many socio-economic factors that contribute to this, but the fact is that the risks for all Canadians who are inactive are high. Those who carry excess weight carry an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer to name a few. The impact of these diseases on the quality of individual lives—their family and work relationships is immeasurable.

Physical activity is a key primary preventative strategy for good health. An adult tax credit makes physical activity just that much more attainable and accessible for Canadians. It would be one proactive step, among many other awareness and community endeavours to encourage Canadians to use exercise and active living as part of a healthy lifestyle.

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