Okay, I'd welcome any suggestions on this draft, and then I'll put this up on a petition signing site.
I've basically shifted the focus away from "give us a tax credit" to "give us something!" and I list a few initiatives the gov. could take to promote cycling as a climate change solution. Any obvious initiatives that I've left out I'd love for you to mention.
I've also tried to streamline this a little bit. I don't think petitions are supposed to be anywhere near this long.
Dear Ms. Abrose, Mr. Cannon, Mr. Flaherty, and Ms.Gelinas:
At a time when environmental protection has become one of the top priorities for Canadians, we, the undersigned, request that the Canadian government do all in its power to promote cycling as a climate-change solution.
In the summer of 2006, the Canadian government took steps to promote public transit as a climate change solution by offering a tax credit to public transit users.
At that time Mr. Flaherty said “Gridlock has become one of the most pressing issues across the GTA, eroding the quality of life and having a negative impact on business and productivity. Our government’s new transit tax credit will make transit more affordable, giving people even more incentive to park their keys and leave their cars at home.”
Ms. Ambrose additionally said “The transit tax credit will not only save people money, but by taking public transit Canadians will be helping to improve our environment. The transit tax credit is part of our government's made in Canada environmental plan. Our transit tax initiative will take the equivalent of 56,000 cars off the road each year which will significantly reduce greenhouse gases here in Canada."
Department of Finance Canada (2006). Taking public transit is now more affordable in Canada. Retrieved November 4, 2006 from http://www.fin.gc.ca/news06/06-031e.html
We agree with Mr. Flaherty and Ms. Ambrose that removing cars from the roads should be one of Canada’s top priorities. We feel this can be achieved by promoting cycling as a substitute to the automobile. We also feel that the government needs to promote cycling due to its health benefits.
According to the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute:
Current estimates place the cost of physical inactivity in Canada at $5.3 billion ($1.6 billion in direct costs and $3.7 billion in indirect costs) and the cost of obesity in Canada at $4.3 billion ($1.6 billion of direct costs and $2.7 billion of indirect costs) in health care expenditures. This represents the totaleconomic cost as 2.6% and 2.2% respectively of the total health care costs in Canada. There is concern that chronic disease resulting from obesity may threaten or cripple the health care system in Canada.
Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute. 2004 Physical Activity Monitor and Sport. Retrieved Nov. 4, 2006 from http://www.cflri.ca/eng/statistics/surveys/pam2004.php
As well, in 2003 the Federal and Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Sport, Recreation and Fitness set a national target to increase levels of physical activity by ten percentage points in each province and territory by the year 2010. A primary reason that they set this target was that “Physical inactivity levels in Canada remain a serious public health burden. Fifty-five percent of Canadians do not meet minimum guidelines for regular physical activity necessary to attain health benefits. Physical inactivity increases the risk of chronic disease, premature death and disability.”
Government of New Brunswick. (2003) News Release: Federal and Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Sport, Recreation and Fitness Target Increase in Physical Activity. Retrieved November 4, 2006 from http://www.canadianheritage.gc.ca/pc-ch/news-comm/ce021712_e.htm
As cycling would combat climate change by removing people from their cars, and ease the burden on the health care system by helping people maintain an active lifestyle, we ask the Canadian government to do everything in its power to promote cycling as a means of transit.
Steps which we feel would achieve this include:
a) Offering a tax credit to bicycle commuters similar to that offered to public transit users. Cyclists would be required to have their employer verify that they commute to work by bicycle, and would then be given a credit based on the value of the C02 emissions they would have released into the atmosphere had they driven a car to work.
b) Setting up a program similar to Britain’s “Cycle to Work” initiative. In this program the employer purchases a bike and related accessories for an employee who wishes to commute to work by bicycle. The employer then claims the taxes back from the government, and sells the bike to the employee at the tax-free price over an extended period of time with small deductions from the employee’s paycheque.
c) Offering tax incentives to employers which set up bike lockers and showers for employees who wish to cycle to work.
d) A removal of GST from bikes and bike accessories.
These steps and others can promote cycling as a transit alternative, but perhaps more importantly, the implementation of one or all of them would be a strong statement from the federal government - legitimizing cycling as a preferred means of transit. Please make this statement, and help us make Canada part of the solution to climate change.