Sugar-sweetened Beverage Tax
Whereas Canada faces substantially increased health care costs as a result of the rising incidence of diabetes, and
Whereas the country also faces an obesity epidemic as reported by a recent Senate Committee report, for which sugar-sweetened drinks play a substantial role, and
Whereas there is substantial evidence that the introduction of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in Mexico in 2014 has led to a substantial decrease in the consumption of these drinks, therefore
Be it resolved that a Green government will introduce a tax on sugar-sweetened (including those sweetened with high fructose corn syrup) and artificially sweetened drinks at a high enough level to discourage their consumption.
Canada is currently facing twin epidemics of diabetes and obesity that have a high cost to our economy and an incalculable human cost. While there are a number of lifestyle and nutritional causes for these problems, the high and growing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is a significant contributor to both of them. Placing a tax on these beverages to discourage consumption, though not a ‘silver bullet’, could help to moderate the economic and human costs of diabetes and obesity.
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, the prevalence of diabetes has almost doubled since the year 2000, and is expected to increase by another 1.5 million people by the year 2020. It was estimated to have put an $11.7 billion burden on our economy in 2010.
A recent Senate committee convened to investigate the obesity problem in Canada found that each year between 48,000 and 66,000 Canadians die from conditions linked to excess weight, that nearly two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are obese or overweight, and that obesity costs our country between $4.6 and $7.1 billion annually in health care and lost productivity.
In one of its four recommendations, the committee called for a study of a tax on sugar- and artificially-sweetened beverages.
Experiences in other countries suggest that a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages can be effective in reducing consumption. Mexico, where an exploding obesity problem that coincided with sharply increased levels of consumption, implemented a one-peso-per-litre soda tax tax (about 10% of the pre-tax price) on sweetened beverages at the beginning of 2014. By the end of the year the tax had yielded 1.9 billion pesos in revenue and sales were down 17%. How much this reduced consumption will affect health outcomes is more difficult to determine, but it is likely to be significant.