EDITORIAL: Federal move for fit families

Ottawa deserves credit for recognizing that childhood fitness is an issue and that sports activities are expensive.

The federal Conservatives deserve credit for recognizing that childhood fitness is an issue and that sports activities are expensive.

But let’s face it, the doubling of the tax credit for kids under 16 from $500 to $1,000 is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to getting kids active and fit.

Now, parents can get back up to 15 per cent of their children’s registration or membership fees at tax time but it’s really just a gesture and an acknowledgement that the original $500 tax credit was far too low, especially if you have more than one child in more than one sport.

What sweetens the pot slightly is that the maximum credit actually works as a refund of $150, meaning that families whose incomes are too low to benefit will get some help, although they have to spend a lot to benefit a little. Cynics will argue that the Tories are just buying votes — with voters’ own money — in advance of a federal election a year from now. But people’s memories aren’t that long and the refund or tax credit isn’t worth that much.

What would make a difference would be a national fitness strategy to encourage families to make health and fitness a priority. Currently, this is left up to the cities to do, with some encouragement from provincial or regional health authorities, and other non-profit agencies.

What’s missing is a culture of active living because everybody is so strapped for time, people drive everywhere and sitting in front of a screen all day is seen as the most-productive way of getting things done.

Could a pan-national strategy address more issues over a long time-frame? Absolutely, and it’s not just kids who could benefit from incentives to employers and agencies to get everyone moving and being healthy.

– Black Press