Product-specific tax battle enters election campaign as healthcare costs mount
TORONTO—Responding to a call from the Canadian Diabetes Association for federal legislators to commit to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes by putting a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, the Canadian Beverage Association says education, not product-specific taxes are the most effective way to help consumers make food and drink informed choices.
“Evidence shows that education, not increased grocery cart taxes, is the key to improving public health, and the beverage industry has strong programs that support calorie awareness,” Jim Goetz, president of the CBA, said. “Calling for a tax on individual foods and beverages in an effort to change public health simply doesn’t work, in fact research has shown it to have no meaningful impact.”
The beverage lobby pointed to an Institute of Economic Affairs report, which found calls to introduce sugar taxes are misguided, as “levies of this kind have little impact on purchasing behaviour.”
The CBA also pointed to the range of products it provides to allow customers a healthy choice.
“The Canadian beverage industry supports consumers balancing their calorie and sugars intake by providing Canadians with a wide range of beverage options – including many zero-calorie options – along with clear, easy-to-read nutritional information that helps people make the choice that’s right for them,” the CBA said.
Meanwhile, the CDA said the time for Canadian legislators to act is now.
“We know that diabetes will cost our health-care system and economy $14 billion in 2015, and $17.5 billion annually by 2025,” Jan Hux, chief science officer at the CDA, said. “Canadians can’t wait any longer. Unless we take action now, diabetes threatens not only more Canadians, but also the viability of our health-care system and our economic prosperity.”
The CDA also called on parties to establishing a national pharmacare program to help people with diabetes access medication and expand the disability tax credit to include all people with type 1 diabetes.