A fitness and arts credit that only helps the rich get richer

Participating in organized sports has great benefits – but it comes with a price. When Algonquin College students think back to their own childhoods, they may remember that not everyone was fortunate enough to take part in such activities. Parents are the ones who played a huge role whether it was driving you to practice, […]
Photo: Emily Hsueh
Farah Khan

Participating in organized sports has great benefits – but it comes with a price.

When Algonquin College students think back to their own childhoods, they may remember that not everyone was fortunate enough to take part in such activities. Parents are the ones who played a huge role whether it was driving you to practice, staying late for games, and most importantly, paying.

For those of us who were lucky enough to have had this experience, we know we couldn’t have done it without them.

A CIBC poll from 2014 found that 82 per cent of Canadians know a child who cannot participate in organized sports because of the costs.

Enter Andrew Scheer’s pledge to bring back the Children’s Fitness and Art Tax Credit. This would mean that families can claim a maximum of $1000 and receive up to $150 back for sports.

That’s great – for higher-income families.

Though, the tax credit is supposed to help families, which

Parents still have to bear 85 per cent of the costs.

“My mom was spending over $20,000 a year,” said Mariah Harper, goalie for the Algonquin women’s soccer team. “A lot of families can’t afford that and it is so sad, because there are so many children that come from low income families that have so much potential and so much talent that just can’t pursue it because they don’t have the opportunity.”

Skills to compete at a competitive level isn’t enough. The disparity among low income and high-income households is prevalent in sports.

“I grew up in a low- to middle-income family,” said Rita Sibo, a player on Algonquin Thunder women’s basketball team. “So, it was definitely hard for my parents to put me and my brothers in sports. They would do their best to help us stay active.”

So, what I am really getting at with this?

Lots of people lose out on opportunities because of costs. In sport programs, only those who can afford to participate will receive the tax credit benefit. They are able to bear the costs and will also receive a portion of it back as a credit. At the end of the day, its only helping families who already have the funding.

With the tax credit brought back as an election platform issue, we need to consider the implications of our choices. We are the ones who have created this ever-present divide, one that will continue to amplify.

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