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Joins British Columbia as the second province to introduce SSB tax

N.L. Finance Minister Siobhan Coady recently delivered Budget 2021 and the announcement of a sugar-sweetened beverage tax to address the impact of chronic disease, such as diabetes.

“This is an important step to addressing the negative health consequences related to the regular consumption of harmful sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB),” says Dr. Seema Nagpal, vice-president of Science & Policy with Diabetes Canada. “Research has shown that excessive consumption (more than one serving per day) of sugar-sweetened beverages -- such as non-diet pop, sports drinks, energy drinks and blended coffee drinks -- increases risk of developing type 2 diabetes, regardless of weight.”

Diabetes is a national health crisis and Newfoundland & Labrador has one of the highest rates in Canada. Urgent action is needed on several fronts to reduce regular consumption of sugars and thereby lessen the burden of obesity and diabetes in Canada.  As noted in Diabetes Canada’s position statement on sugar, several interventions are required to stem the tide of diabetes, including improved food security, transparent nutrition labelling, restricting marketing to kids, and a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

“This tax is a critical component of a broader approach to promote healthy eating and drinking,” says Nagpal.

Governments have a responsibility to ensure its own financial sustainability and taxes such as those in place on tobacco and alcohol can provide a valuable source of revenue which can be used to fund measures that promote healthy communities. The savings and revenues generated from a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages can be significant and should be reinvested in healthy public policy initiatives such as a provincial diabetes strategy using the Diabetes 3600 framework. Such an investment will mean fewer cases of type 2 diabetes in Newfoundland & Labrador, reductions in diabetes complications for those living with the disease and significant savings in health care and benefits costs.

Diabetes Canada looks forward to continued discussion with the government to learn more about their implementation and considerations regarding tax revenue reinvestments into health policies and interventions. The increased risk for type 2 diabetes with excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is clear and we urge all governments to make a commitment to promote the health of Canadians by introducing similar interventions.

A few other notable highlights from the Budget include:

  • Physical Activity Credit
  • Investment to support reduction in smoking and vaping
  • Improving food security

Category Tags: Advocacy & Policy;

Region: National