Sugary solution for revenue

As the provincial government searches for ways to diversify revenue and continues to prepare Albertans

As the provincial government searches for ways to diversify revenue and continues to prepare Albertans to do without before the 2015 budget is released, more than a few ideas are being thrown out there to raise revenue.

From bringing back those pesky healthcare premiums, making cuts in the public sector, increasing the fuel tax or creating more tax brackets, no idea is too far out-of-the-box to make up that large provincial deficit.

One of the ideas a provincial health group has suggested is for the government to introduce a tax on sugary drinks like pop, energy drinks and some fruit juices.

The Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention, consisting of 17 provincial health-related organizations, is lobbying for a 50 cent per litre levy on sugary drinks.

The group suggests the tax would encourage consumers to purchase smaller beverages and it would also generate additional revenue for the province.

Registered dietitian and part of the coalition Rachel Prowse told CTV News the levy could generate, “Approximately $158 million for the province.”

She also added that the group hopes the revenue generated from this tax would go towards a wellness foundation, which would then funnel funds into provincial health programs.

Albertans have also been suggesting additional levies on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, also known as a sin tax.

According to the CBC, the provincial government earned $930 million from the current tobacco tax and $747 million from liquor taxes in 2014.

They alluded an increase to the sin taxes could raise an additional revenue of approximately $200 million for the province.

While all these ideas are valid options for the government to consider, it’s the health-based levies that seem to carry the most weight.

As a community, Lacombe has been at the forefront of promoting healthy lifestyles by becoming a Choosewell Community. This is emphasized by the promotion of outdoor events like Winter Walk Day and the Winter Active Challenge.

The local schools have also been conduits towards a healthy change, with Lacombe Composite High School growing and cultivating their own fresh food to serve in their own cafeteria and eliminating the junk food typically found in most school cafeterias.

Ecole Lacombe Upper Elementary School also recently earned the Healthy Schools Community Award for 2014, a true testament to their commitment to creating a healthy school environment for students.

Last week Blackfalds also hosted Winterfest, an outdoor festival for families to enjoy time with one another. Winterfest was not only a blast, but it encouraged families to get out and be active, even during the cold winter months.

It seems like any little thing we can do to encourage people to eat healthier and get active, including an added tax that most wouldn’t notice or flinch at, is a step in the right direction.