Canadian Packaging

Soft drink tax called voodoo medicine

Proposed 50-cent a liter tax by the Heart and Stroke Foundation would cost the average family an additional $200 a year.


September 10, 2014
by Canadian Packaging Staff

OTTAWA, ON: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is calling the new proposal from the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation for a new 50-cent-a-litre excise tax on soft drinks, ‘voodoo economic medicine’ that won’t cure any problem.

“With all due respect to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, their new $1.8 billion sugar tax would cost every Canadian family of four over $200,” says CTF federal director Gregory Thomas. “And as we’ve seen from Denmark and other places, it’s going to be a big, expensive, failure.”

“Encouraging Canadians to eat healthier and exercise is one thing,” says Thomas. “But attempting to force Canadians to eat healthier through higher taxes hasn’t worked and won’t work.”

Thomas questioned the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s proposal to use the new $200-per-family tax to subsidize healthy fruits and vegetables.

“Today you can walk into Walmart, Superstore, Loblaws or Sobey’s and buy potatoes for 20 cents a pound, bananas for 57 cents a pound, apples for 97 cents a pound, all of them tax-free,” notes Thomas. “Does anybody seriously believe Canadians will eat more fruit and vegetables if the government sets up a $1.8 billion bureaucracy to make them cheaper?”

A CTF study released last year shows consumption of sugary soft drinks has actually dropped 35 per cent since 1998 as Canadians make healthier lifestyle choices.

During the same period, sales of coffee, tea and bottled water have increased.

“The Heart and Stroke Foundation does good work, providing nutritious recipes and medical information,” explains Thomas. “But economic evidence clearly shows us that a new sugar tax will only make Canadians poorer, not thinner.”

Of note, the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s position paper released today contains a factual error. The paper praises Denmark for their sugar tax, even though it was abolished, in stages, beginning in July 2013.