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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Uptake and effectiveness of the Children's Fitness Tax Credit in Canada: the rich get richer

John C Spence1*, Nicholas L Holt1, Julia K Dutove1 and Valerie Carson2

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Physical Education & Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

2 Kinesiology and Health Sciences, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:356  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-356

Published: 21 June 2010



The Government of Canada implemented a Children's Fitness Tax Credit (CFTC) in 2007 which allows a non-refundable tax credit of up to $500 to register a child in an eligible physical activity (PA) program. The purposes of this study were to assess whether the awareness, uptake, and perceived effectiveness of this tax credit varied by household income among Canadian parents.


An internet-based panel survey was conducted in March 2009 with a representative sample of 2135 Canadians. Of those, parents with children aged 2 to 18 years of age (n = 1004) were asked if their child was involved in organized PA programs (including dance and sports), the associated costs to register their child in these programs, awareness of the CFTC, if they had claimed the CFTC for the tax year 2007, and whether they planned to claim it in the upcoming year. Parents were also asked if they believed the CFTC has lead to their child being more involved in PA programs.


Among parents, 54.4% stated their child was in organized PA and 55.5% were aware of the CFTC. Parents in the lowest income quartile were significantly less aware and less likely to claim the CFTC than other income groups. Among parents who had claimed the CFTC, few (15.6%) believed it had increased their child's participation in PA programs.


More than half of Canadian parents with children have claimed the CFTC. However, the tax credit appears to benefit the wealthier families in Canada.