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Sask. promotes sports affordability program ahead of fall, winter

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Saskatchewan's premier spent part of the morning in Saskatoon promoting a pre-existing affordability program that aims to keep children active.

As part of the Active Families Benefit, introduced in 2021, families making up to $60,000 can receive a tax credit up to $150 per year per child, or $200 per child with a disability, when they file their taxes.

However, Premier Scott Moe admits that sort of contribution is probably not going to sway parents' budgets one way or another.

"We understand that $150 tax credit, albeit helpful, likely isn't going to replace the entire cost of a child that may join organized hockey," Moe said. "But it's helpful."

Moe said the benefit could be the difference between a parent involving a second child in an activity rather than having to choose which child participates this year.

Coun. Troy Davies, Saskatoon city council's lead on recreation, culture and leisure, understands how important staying active is for children.

In his other job as a paramedic, Davies saw how mental health issues normally experience by adults started appearing in children.

"This is something we're not used to," Davies said. "There's not a whole lot of answers out there for it."

"Having the opportunity to have a healthy body, healthy mind and exercise and being able to go out in team sports or individual sports just give you that calmness you may need for those rough days."

Davies hopes the benefit can be an added incentive to get kids off of social media and their screens, and create healthy habits.

"It can have an affect on their lives down the road," he said.

According to the province, eligible programs include sporting activities that provide exposure, training, or participation in any field of sport in an organized and competitive environment that requires strategy, physical training and mental preparation.

Eligible recreational activities provide exposure, training, or participation in any field of recreation designed to refresh, provide satisfaction, entertain, and provide physical or mental benefits.

Eligible cultural activities are ones that provide exposure, training, or participation in the field of arts, heritage, or multiculturalism.

Moe said the province would look at expanding the program beyond the roughly 20,000 families eligible for the program, but before the province looks at expanding it to more people struggling to pay for organized activities, Moe wants to see more people claim the benefit.

"What we have the opportunity to do with this program here is drastically increase the uptake," he said. 

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