On April 7th, the Edmonton Public School Board will be debating adding their support to the growing number of organizations calling for a fifty cents per litre added tax on Sugar-added beverages.
It is further requested that these additional revenues (conservatively estimated at $168 million per year) be targeted at health and wellness prevention initiatives for students.
If the Edmonton Public School Board supports this idea there are two potential pathways forward. First, it could be put forward to the Alberta School Boards Association for debate at the June 1st Spring General Meeting. Secondly, it could be advanced for debate to our regional School board area (ASBA Zone 2/3) as a potential policy position to be brought forward to the Fall General Meeting in November 2015.
My preference is that we could have the debate sooner at Spring General Meeting 2015 in Red Deer, and provide an opportunity for all school boards to support a new revenue tool that would combine a deterrent to unhealthy consumption habits while additionally raising provincial revenue– funds that could be invested in prevention activities, especially those targeted at supporting positive lifelong nutritional habits for students.
RECOMMENDATION That the following proposed Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) policy positions for submission to ASBA Zone 23 be approved:
1. That the Alberta School Boards Association write a letter to the Minister of Health in support of the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention’s recommendation that The Alberta Government establish a 50 cent per litre tax on sugary drinks in Alberta and request that additional revenues be targeted to student health and wellness in Alberta.
2. That Recommendation 1 be forwarded as an emergent policy issue for the Alberta School Boards Association Spring General meeting.
See the full recommendation report and additional research here:
Metro News: http://metronews.ca/news/edmonton/1332823/edmonton-public-school-board-chair-wants-province-to-tax-sugary-drinks/
Recommendation 1 – Rationale
A January 2015 media release (Attachment II) from the The Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention (APCCP) states that: Decreased sugary drink consumption has major benefits for Albertans, such as reduced risk of chronic disease, improved quality of life, increased productivity and academic performance for students, as well reduced health care costs. In terms of revenue generation, a 50 cent/ litre consumption levy could generate approximately $158 million annually for the province, assuming a 20 percent reduction in consumption from taxation (7,8).
The February 2015 APCCP’s Submission Recommendations for a Levy on Sugary Drinks in Alberta (Attachment III) states that: A provincial levy on sugary drinks is one evidence-informed intervention with potential to reduce consumption of sugary drinks, improve health and generate revenue for the province (17, 18). Advocating for a sugar-added drinks tax would further support the work of school boards and the Alberta School Boards Association in comprehensive school health similar to anti-tobacco initiatives already supported by school districts.
Extensive research supports the conclusion that, when it comes to disease prevention and health promotion, it is important to address nutrition as well as physical fitness. Many health advocates are suggesting that in order for us to make tangible improvements in health promotion in our society, a combination of price pressures and consumer education are needed. An October 2014 brief by Professor Timothy Caulfield and Senior Lecturer Nola M. Ries Obesity Policy: The Way Forward for the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has been provided (Attachment IV) as additional information in support of the recommendation.
The ASBA seeks to work with provincial partners to support healthy students, healthy families, and a healthy province. The ASBA also continues to advocate for adequate, predictable, sustainable funding for public education and supporting this measure could support comprehensive societal health and assist in resourcing further health promotion work in public education. While it may seem unconventional for school boards to advocate on behalf of a specific Provincial revenue tool, this recommendation would be complementary to many other close-but-not-core-to-mandate initiatives that boards have supported such as reducing child poverty, comprehensive school health, early learning, community revitalization, and many others.
Recommendation 2 – Rationale
This is a timely issue given that the Province is currently considering possible additional revenue sources. Having the policy position brought forward for discussion at the Spring General Meeting as an emergent issue rather than at the Fall General Meeting would allow the provincial government additional time to develop implementation of this initiative. ASBA process allows boards to submit any proposed emergent policies to the ASBA for consideration at the Spring General Meeting by May 1, 2015.
From the APCCP: http://www.abpolicycoalitionforprevention.ca/press-room/171-mediareleasejan202015.html
The Time is Right for an Alberta Levy on Sugary Drinks EDMONTON – A provincial coalition of prominent health groups is calling on the Premier to establish a levy on sugary drinks to reduce consumption of these unhealthy products and generate revenue for the province.
Sugary drinks, which include soft drinks and energy drinks, are unlike other food and beverages because they offer virtually no nutritional benefits, are empty calories that don’t fully satisfy hunger and are linked to serious health problems such as obesity, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes (1-6). “Sugar-loaded drinks are placing an enormous burden on our quality of life, our economy and our health care system,” said Rachel Prowse, Registered Dietitian and PhD student at the University of Alberta. “The need for action to reduce consumption of sugary drinks is clear.”
Placing a levy on sugary drinks is a win-win for Alberta. “Not only will a levy reduce consumption of sugar-loaded drinks, it will also generate much needed revenue,” comments Kate Chidester of the Heart and Stroke Foundation and member of the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention (APCCP). “Decreased sugary drink consumption has major benefits for Albertans, such as reduced risk of chronic disease, improved quality of life, increased productivity and academic performance for students, as well reduced health care costs.”
In terms of revenue generation, a 50 cent/litre consumption levy could generate approximately 158 million annually for the province, assuming a 20% reduction in consumption from taxation (7, 8).
The APCCP recommends using a portion of the revenue generated from the levy to establish a Wellness Foundation, which would provide sustainable funding for health promotion programs in Alberta. “When the province faces a budget deficit, vital programs aimed at promoting Albertans’ health and wellbeing often risk being cut,” notes Kate Chidester. “A Wellness Foundation would help ensure these programs are available for Albertans when they need them the most.”
According to a recent 2014 survey of the Albertan public, a majority of respondents (57%) support taxing soft drinks and energy drinks.