Manitoba Greens pitch 20% tax on sweet drinks to reduce diabetes

The Manitoba Green Party plans to bring in a tax on sweet drinks if it wins the Sept. 10 election.

Tax would raise $20 million a year, which would go back into health care, Greens say

Green Party Leader James Beddome says a tax on sugary drinks and junk food could help push people to make healthier choices. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

The Manitoba Green Party plans to bring in a tax on sweet drinks if it wins the Sept. 10 election.

The party says it would apply a 20 per cent tax to all beverages sweetened with sugar in an attempt to drive down diabetes rates.

Green Leader James Beddome says the tax would raise $20 million a year, which would be put back into health care.

Beddome says he would eventually expand the tax to cover junk food as well.

Joyce Slater, is an associate professor of community nutrition at the University of Manitoba. She said the Greens' proposed tax will end up hurting the pocketbooks of low-income families.

"You're going to be really affected because it's more money out of your pocketbook. And why should, you know, those folks be penalized disproportionately," said Slater.

Slater said the planned tax is ambitious, but is not sure if it would provide long term health benefits.

The Greens have never won a seat in the Manitoba legislature, although they finished a close second in one Winnipeg constituency in the last election.

Beddome says a tax on bad drinks and food could help push people to get healthy.

"We have an opportunity here to encourage Manitobans towards healthier choices, while at the same time saving money in health- care costs and raising additional revenue that can go towards promoting the health and wellness of Manitobans," he said in a release Tuesday.

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