Winnipeg, MB — Party leader James Beddome said that Greens would put a 20 per cent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages if elected, which would reduce rates of type-2 diabetes in Manitoba and raise an additional $20 million in revenue annually to put back into the health care system.

“Putting a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks is enough to give most people pause, and consider other, healthier options,” said Beddome. “This strategy has been proven to significantly reduce the consumption of unhealthy drinks like soft drinks, which can have a large impact on preventing type-2 diabetes and other related illnesses.”

A recent Canadian study estimates that a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks could prevent over 200,000 cases of type-2 diabetes in Canada over the next 25 years, and prevent thousands of other cases of heart disease, strokes and cancer. In addition, the initiative would save an estimated $11 billion in health care costs over the same time period. For Manitoba, this works out to annual health care savings of $16 million, in addition to the $20 million in revenue that would be generated from the tax.

“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,” said Beddome.

Beddome was clear that any savings in health care costs would be invested back into the health care system, and that all revenue gained from the tax would be put towards evidence-based preventative health care initiatives. He also stressed that reducing sugar consumption is only one step towards addressing the diabetes epidemic in Manitoba.

“We need to focus on preventative health care strategies that take social determinants of health into account,” said Beddome. “Reducing poverty through a basic income will also go a long way towards reducing diet-related chronic illnesses, like diabetes.”

While the Greens will start with taxing sugary drinks, they plan to eventually expand the initiative to include other forms of junk food, which would lead to increased population level health benefits and generate further revenue to be put back into the health care system.

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