March 21, 2013 / 9:35 PM / 5 years ago

Populist Canadian budget measure aims to cut cost of playing ice hockey

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Few things are more Canadian than playing ice hockey and the country’s Conservative government looked to take advantage of the national craze in its budget on Thursday by cutting tariffs on the expensive equipment needed to play the game.

Parents complain it can cost hundreds of dollars to buy helmets, skates, sticks, and uniforms, which cost more than in the neighboring United States despite the steady strengthening in value of the Canadian dollar in recent years.

“The government shares Canadians concerns about the Canada-U.S. price gap and wants to see lower prices for consumers,” said the budget document.

The budget proposes to cut tariffs on imported ice skates and hockey equipment as well as baby clothing, skis, snowboards, golf clubs and equipment for a total annual saving of C$76 million ($75 million).

“(This) comes with the expectation that wholesalers, distributors and retailers will pass these savings onto consumers,” said the budget, adding the government would monitor the effect of the tariff cuts.

The relatively small annual saving of C$76 million suggests there are other reasons for the higher Canadian prices. Retailers say prices for items in both nations are set long before they go on sale and cannot be cut quickly to reflect changes in the exchange rate.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson

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