Live Well Exercise Clinic CEO Sara Hodson and Trevor Linden’s Club 16 partner Carl Ulmer are pushing for gym memberships and services to become tax deductible. (Contributed photo)

Live Well Exercise Clinic CEO Sara Hodson and Trevor Linden’s Club 16 partner Carl Ulmer are pushing for gym memberships and services to become tax deductible. (Contributed photo)

Semiahmoo Peninsula fitness pros leading charge on tax-deductible gym memberships

Live Well Exercise Clinic CEO Sara Hodson pitched idea to deputy prime minister

A pair of Semiahmoo Peninsula fitness professionals have made a formal request to the federal government to adjust the tax code to not only inspire more Canadians to become physically active, but as a way to help their industry recover in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Backed by more than 100 businesses in the fitness industry, Live Well Exercise Clinic CEO Sara Hodson and Trevor Linden’s Club 16 partner Carl Ulmer, both of the South Surrey and White Rock area, have been gaining traction in their effort to have the federal government adjust the tax system to make gym memberships and services tax-deductible.

While Ulmer said the move has been a request of the fitness industry for some time, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised awareness of the benefits of mental and physical health.

“I think this pandemic really forced the issue and I think that’s why we’re getting a lot of traction on it,” Ulmer said.

At the end of January, Hodson, who co-chairs the BC Fitness Industry Council with Ulmer, had an audience with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. The council has been meeting with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s office over the last six months to support keeping gyms open and safe in the province.

The purpose of the meeting, Hodson said, was for Freeland to learn where the biggest opportunity is for the fitness industry to recover after the pandemic.

SEE ALSO: Live Well Exercise Clinic boss named Surrey’s Business Person of 2017

“Instead of asking for a handout from the government to save our business, we strongly believe the solution is in the hands of the Canadian people,” Hodson told Peace Arch News.

“The best way we can mobilize this is by including fitness memberships and services as a medical expense on our personal taxes, which is line 33099.”

Hodson said in a country where taxes fund education that teaches exercise as a medicine, and funds research that proves the health benefits of exercise, it only makes sense for the government to give Canadians the opportunity to reap even more benefits from physical activity.

“This really isn’t even a political or socioeconomic issue. This is truly a humanity issue,” Hodson said.

Hodson said the deputy prime minister was receptive to the request because it’s highly specific, it’s within a category and infrastructure that already exists, and could have immediate implementation and impact.

Another reason Freeland was receptive, Hodson said, was that the fitness industry employs thousands of young people across the country.

“In the process of (COVID-19), we had to lay off about half of our employees across Canada. As a fitness industry, we had about 150,000 employees coming into the pandemic, now we’re sitting at about 75,000,” Hodson said.

SENIORS HEALTH: Many benefits to starting exercise regime

“(It will) have an impact on employment, it has an impact on the fitness industry, but most importantly, it has an impact on every Canadian’s health.”

Asked why Hodson targeted tax-deduction instead of a more traditional government handout, she said the audience for a handout is “vast and crowded.”

“Not everybody … will be heard,” she said.

“Our financial modelling looks at how can we get about 12 million Canadians more active. What that calculates out to is about $720 million influx into the fitness industry across Canada. We believe that when we trickle that down, that will have an incremental benefit for every single fitness company. This is a long-term play. This is the long-term recovery plan. This isn’t the thing that’s going to save our businesses today or tomorrow.”

What will save fitness businesses, Hodson added, is welcoming communities back into fitness facilities.

“Even though the majority of fitness in British Columbia is open, it’s surprising how much the public is unaware of that and how much the public has a misconception of the safety for fitness facilities,” Hodson said.

“Collaboratively, we have had millions of healthy check-ins with no transmission rates for those people that are part of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Fire Service at a garage fire in the 14400-block of 82A Ave on March 22, 2021. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
‘Perfect storm’ of variants, increasing COVID cases are concerning for Surrey fire chief

Between police and fire, Larry Thomas said there are 8 confirmed cases, 18 others isolating

Signage on a South Surrey sidewalk reminds pedestrians to respect social-distancing guidelines. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey records 4,400 COVID-19 cases in March

New cases almost doubled between February, March

President of the West Coast Fine Arts Show, Brian Croft, said pandemic restrictions necessitated a shift to an entirely online event this year, running until April 30. (File photo)
The West Fine Art Show shifts to an online-only event amid tighter health orders

Website version retains the flavour of the annual live exhibition

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Small plane crashes at Delta’s Boundary Bay Airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

Surrey Fire Service is on scene of a fire in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue Saturday morning (April 10). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews on scene of house fire

It happened in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Most Read