Published on Fri, 04/13/2012 by Natural Health Practitioners of Canada

Focus on Wellness and Fitness

The Holistic Health & Fitness Tax Credit

As part of the PC Party election platform Premier Alison Redford has promised a Children's Physical Activity Tax Credit and Seniors' Activity Tax Credit. The tax credits will coax the young and old to participate in physical activity programs to enhance their health and wellness and reduce the burden of illness on Alberta's health care system. I suspect that most would think this is a great idea. But are these proposed tax benefits enough?

The provincial election campaign has generated engrossing discussion focusing on remedies for the provision of health care in Alberta. While acute care costs and service demands steadily increase, due in part, to Alberta's expanding and aging population, the demand for service continues to grow, increasing the need for Albertans of all ages to focus on staying well and keeping out of the acute care system.

With the goal of wellness in mind, Albertans are increasingly seeking the benefits of incorporating holistic health practices into their health and wellness programs. They are turning to modalities such as yoga, tai-chi, massage, acupuncture, touch therapies and other natural health practices to gain strength, balance and endurance as well as improve pain management and enhance healing. Significantly, many holistic health modalities have been proven to play a significant role in managing stress - a major contributor to many illnesses, which include cancer, heart disease, arthritis and others.

Alberta needs to expand the healthcare conversation to include cost-saving holistic or natural health care practices. The field of natural health care, which is often referred to as Complementary and Alternative Medicine, is broad, inclusive and multi-cultural. The foundation of natural health practices is the creation or maintenance of wellness and the prevention of acute and chronic conditions that require drugs and surgery.

Natural health modalities:

  • Include many practices (i.e. Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Pilates, etc.) that are also considered 'fitness' pursuits;
  • Are multi-cultural and appeal to Alberta's indigenous and immigrant populations. Increased immigration is touted as a key solution to Alberta's labour shortage issues and providing indigenous health solutions is a key issue for government;
  • Are most likely to be used by Albertans (84%) according to a 2006 Fraser Institute survey;
  • Have a pronounced increased in usage in Alberta since 1997;
  • Offer Albertans a wide-range of choices for achieving and maintaining their health and wellness.

The Natural Health Practitioners of Canada Association proposes a Holistic Health & Fitness Tax Credit for Albertans of all ages who incorporate wellness into their healthy living plan.

We call on all parties to include wellness in the solution to providing the best health care for Albertans and expand the tax credit to include both holistic health and traditional fitness programs.

Colleen MacDougall
Executive Director
Natural Health Practitioners of Canada