Myth: Scouts Canada fees are reasonable compared to sports

By Liam Morland

In defence of the high registration fees charged by Scouts Canada, commissioners, staff members, and others have often made a comparison with sports programs. Their claim is that Scouts Canada fees are reasonable compared to the fees of sports programs. Therefore, they conclude, the fees are not too high.

Their conclusion depends on the assumption that sports fees are not themselves too high. Let's see what the research has to say:

One-third (36%) of Canadian parents of a child under the age of 18 say they have not been able to enrol their child/children in organized sports when they wanted to because it was too expensive, according to a new Ipsos-Reid survey conducted on behalf of Canadian Tire. (Ipsos-Reid, 2005)

The research suggests that, due to the high cost, Scouts Canada programs are reaching less then two-thirds of the target audience. Or put another way, membership could be increased by about half if fees were reduced.

This is not the only issue with registration fees. An often-ignored fact is that the Scouts Canada registration fee is not the only cost of being a member. The Scouts Canada fee goes to the Council and National levels, leaving the group with nothing. Scout groups must raise the funds to run their programs by doing such things as fundraising and charging their own registration fees, dues, and camp fees. This additional commitment of time and money throws off the comparison with sports fees. If one is signed up for soccer, one does not have to pay a registration fee and then pay a fee at each game and practice.

Scouts Canada's Strategic Direction #1 refers to program affordability. Unfortunately, it says, "[e]nsure programs remain affordable" (emphasis added). In order for the programs to remain affordable, they must first become affordable.

Scouts Canada's registration fees are too high right now. They are a barrier to increased membership. They must be reduced as part of making Scouts Canada a vibrant association.