No tax on sugary drinks in federal Liberal platform, says health minister

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has no intention of introducing a tax on sugary beverages to fight obesity, despite calls from within the party to make the initiative part of the Liberal platform.

“We’ve made it clear during the course of the past few years that adding a tax to sugary beverages was not a part of our healthy eating strategy,” Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor told reporters in Ottawa Tuesday.

Petitpas Taylor said her government will confine itself to the three initiatives it already has announced: updating the Canada Food Guide (which was done earlier this year), banning artificial trans fats and restricting marketing of junk food to kids.

Her comments came after a group of Ontario Liberal MPs made it clear they want to pitch voters on a  “sugar sweetened beverages levy” — more commonly known as a soda tax — in the coming federal election campaign.

While the proposal is ranked 18th out of 19 items on a list of Liberal caucus platform priorities obtained by CBC News, several MPs are pushing hard to include it in the platform for the October election.

They say they want to link it to funding for a program to provide healthy lunches to grade school students nationwide.

The draft proposal advocates a 20 per cent tax based on an average price for sugary drinks of $2.50 per litre. It also predicts a soda tax could, by reducing obesity, save Canada’s health care system a lot of money.

The document says the tax itself would raise “almost $1.2 billion,” while the “25-year total tax revenue is an estimated $29.6 billion.

“The combined health care savings and revenue from a 20 per cent SSB tax over this period would be $36,998,242,299.”

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