MP Peter Stoffer has introduced a private members bill asking that the Income Tax Act be amended to allow tax deductions for amateur sports fees. The objectives of Bill C-210 are to encourage the citizens of Canada to become more involved in amateur sports by offering them a tax deduction for their fees that would be equivalent to the deduction allowed for charitable donations. By increasing the physical activity and consequently the health of Canadians, the bill would save money by preventing individuals from requiring treatment for health problems caused by inactivity (House of Commons). According to Stoffer, the Bill may also save money for the Justice System because studies have shown that kids who are involved in sports are less likely to end up in trouble. He is emphasizing the fact that although this bill will not solve all of Canada’s sports related problems, it is a start, and it is also a way for the government to give some money back to parents who are paying extraordinary amounts of money to put their children into sports.
While the general view in the House of Commons was that promoting an increase in amateur sports participation, especially among young children, is an area of concern for the government, many of the MP’s believed that Bill C-210 is not the solution. One of the arguments against the bill was the fact that it could appear as if the government is discriminating against other worthwhile activities that can also improve an individual’s well being. Parents who enrol their children in the performing arts or in musical activities may question why they cannot receive a tax deduction for the fees they pay when the parents whose children are interested in sports do. Another argument was centred on the fact that the bill could cost the government an estimated $450 million in lost tax revenue, but it may only increase sports participation by as little as 2.3% (House of Commons). This is because only 2.3% of Canadians reported that cost prevented them from participating in sports. The most commonly reported reason for not participating in sports is a lack of time (31.3%) followed by a lack of interest (26.1%) (Sport Canada). Consequently, the bill may do little to actually increase sports participation, which could result in all Canadians subsidizing the individuals who are already active in sports. This result would not be fair to those who pursue interests other than sports. It would also be unfair to individuals who participate in physical activities that do not require a payment of fees, such as walking and jogging (House of Commons).
Even if Bill C-210 were to be approved it would not, as Stoffer admits, solve all of the problems. The fact remains that physical activities will improve the health and lives of Canadians, but Canadians are increasingly finding themselves unable to participate in such activities due to the increasing costs associated with them. When I first started playing indoor soccer in Kingston, Ontario 7 years ago we played in gyms and the cost was about $60. Now we play in the new Soccer Dome and I am paying $300. As the costs of sports continues to rise it will surely prevent more and more people from participating each year. I myself had to think very hard before I decided to play this year and if they raise it again I may not continue because it is just too much money. Now imagine what it must be like for parents who have to pay these fees for each child and then hope that they may have enough left over to enrol in a sport themselves? This is definitely an issue that must be dealt with by the government because if it is not it will only get worse as the fees continue to rise.
House of Commons. (2003, October 7). Edited Hansard Number 135. 37th Parliament, 2nd session. Parl.gc.ca. Retrieved November 20, 2003, from http: http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/2/parlbus/chambus/house/debates/135_2003-10-07/toc135-E.htm
Sport Canada. (1998). Sport Participation in Canada 1998. Canadianheritage.gc.ca. Retrieved November 20, 2003, from http: http://www.canadianheritage.gc.ca/progs/sc/psc/SPINCc14.pdf