On March 21, 2013, Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty presented the 2013 Federal Budget. One area of this budget that both interests and concerns me is “Tariff Relief for Canadian Consumers”.
Budget 2013 proposes to permanently eliminate all tariffs on baby clothes and sports and athletic equipment (excluding bicycles). This measure will support Canadian families and encourage physical activity and healthy living by lowering the costs of importing these goods.
More details here:
The statement above suggests to me that our Federal Conservatives aren’t really interested in addressing our problems with transportation, health, energy costs, and associated cost of living in any meaningful way. It’s no secret that in major urban centres of Canada, like Toronto and surrounding area where I live, that traffic gridlock is a problem. I would go further to say that we are experiencing a massive failure in the automotive industry. Rising insurance rates, gas prices, and maintenance costs all point to a saturated market that has built itself around the car. This problem stems from years of under-investment in other transportation options. These options of course include public transit, but I will also include active transportation options such as bike lanes and bike share programs as valid means of transportation as they have proven successful and are catching on in other areas of the world.
We need more options. Ontario’s MetroLynx has a plan called “The Big Move” that addresses years of under-investment in transit infrastructure. However this plan will take a generation, and billions of dollars to complete. While this project is important, I don’t believe we can wait that long for the solution. Cycling is an activity that can take advantage of the roads that are already in place.
What about health problems in general related to increasing calorie intake and reduced energy exertion? Cycling is a meaningful answer to that also. Overall health only improves with cycling, which translates to health care savings.
Finally, cycling still provides an excellent sporting or leisurely activity, which for that reason alone ought to qualify bicycles for a tariff exemption. It doesn’t make any sense to apply a 13% tariff on bicycles.