Archived - Report of the Expert Panel for the Children's Fitness Tax Credit

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finance - image K. Kellie Leitch, MD, MBA, FRCS (C)
Chair/Chief, Division of Paediatric Surgery
Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon
Email: kellie.leitch@lhsc.on.ca
Tel: 519-685-8021
Fax: 519-685-8038
Room: E2-620D

October 26, 2006

Dear Minister Flaherty:

As members of Finance Canada’s Expert Panel for the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, we are pleased to present our recommendations, and we are confident of the positive impact this policy will have on Canadian children and their families.

Encouraging families to help their children to become physically active is an important goal, and one that is becoming increasingly important.

There are alarming statistical reminders within our report regarding the prevalence and impact of childhood obesity. This obesity "epidemic" is – in part – a function of the dramatic societal changes that we have experienced only relatively recently. Within the past hundred years, people have experienced radical changes in their diet, become frequent users of motorized transportation, seen great shifts away from primarily physical labour to work that is far more intellectually-focused, and undergone a tremendous rise in more sedentary leisure activities than ever before.

The forces working against greater health and fitness are not malevolent, but rather day-to-day realities faced by modern civilization.

Encouraging more physical activity, sport, and fitness within our culture is a complex, multi-faceted, and challenging issue. While we do not pretend that the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit will be a panacea that will end most childhood obesity, we passionately believe the tax credit is an important component of what must be a broader strategy to encourage activity among young people. The tax credit can be a catalyst that supports programs for children, increased levels of activity, and hopefully – a lifelong love of active lifestyles for thousands of young Canadians.

The Children’s Fitness Tax Credit is one component of an overall strategy in which government is a catalyst, but not necessarily an active player in all cases. While government has an important role to play, the solutions will not come from government alone. The most powerful driver of new, more active behaviours will be parental and peer influences.

Through this tax credit, the Federal Government is helping to encourage children to get into the habit of daily physical activity. Stakeholders have informed us that this physical activity habit – once started – is one that people often maintain their entire lives.

We have seen great progress in social behaviour when it comes to drinking and driving, and we are beginning to see similar results when it comes to smoking. It is our hope that similar behavioural change will improve childhood fitness, and eventually the health and well-being of our population.

Over the course of our work, we received input from small, local grassroots organizations, up to and including national physical activity associations. One common thread united those with whom we met: their passion for children’s physical activity and recreation.

Recreational physical activities are driven by volunteers in communities across Canada. And while we are excited about the potential of this tax credit to enhance what is already happening today, we would caution against anything that has the unintended consequence of reducing grassroots volunteerism that supports physical activities and sports. The policy details of this tax credit must be designed to support volunteers, and encourage more volunteerism.

Let the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit be a start. Let it inspire more and greater physical activity among our nation’s young people. And let Canada be recognized as a world leader in childhood fitness and physical activity.

Sincerely,

 

Dr. K. Kellie Leitch
Chair, Expert Panel for the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit

Chair/Chief, Division of Paediatric Surgery/Assistant Dean (External),
Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Western Ontario

Co-Director, Health Sector MBA Program, Ivey School of Business,
University of Western Ontario

Mr. David Bassett
Senior Investment Advisor
Scotia McLeod
Mr. Michael Weil
President and Chief Executive Officer
YMCA Canada

Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario 
London Health Sciences Centre
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 5010, 800 
Commissioners Rd. E., London, Ontario, N6A 5W9
Healthy Children: our goal, our future.


Table of Contents

Summary of Recommendations 

Getting Children Active:
The Purpose of the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit 

Definition 

Issues Presented to the Expert Panel 

Recommendations 

Issue for Future Consideration 

Endnotes 

Acknowledgements 

Appendices