Photo Credit: Caspar Rae (via Unsplash).
A sugar-sweetened beverage tax is being put into effect in Newfoundland on April 1st, 2022. The tax is 20 cents per litre of sugary beverage. This tax represents an attempt by the government to reduce our caloric intake and make Newfoundlanders healthier. After all, if we can’t afford sugary drinks, we won’t drink them…, right?
This tax has one purpose: to collect money for the government. Who among us remembers the infamous Newfoundland book tax? Do taxes come from honourable intentions such as lowering our caloric intake? If so, then what was the book-tax designed to save us from – literacy? We must take the apparent concern over the province’s health with a grain of salt (because we can’t afford sugar).
Popular Newfoundland-based social media accounts have expressed their opinions on the sugary drink tax through memes.
The Canadian Beverage Association has pointed out that other jurisdictions that have implemented a tax on sugary drinks have not seen a significant decrease in person-by-person calorie consumption. Without exception, the tax has always led to job loss.
Browning Harvey Limited is a mass producer of soft drinks based in Newfoundland. They are celebrating their 85th anniversary in the soft drink business this year and have consistently provided jobs to the working class of Newfoundland since the 1860s. The sugary drink tax will no doubt have an impact on this proud Newfoundland-based company. Job and profit loss will follow the implementation of the tax, with no sympathy so far from the government, despite the warnings from the Canadian Beverage Association.
A similar moral dilemma concerning calorie intake in the province has occurred recently. The city of St. John’s, proprietors of the Mile One Centre, recently sold its naming rights to Mary Brown’s Chicken. Now named the Mary Brown’s Centre, our beloved entertainment venue is now a monument to the excessive caloric intake of Newfoundland’s residents. Compared to the sugary drink tax, it is hard to avoid questioning the competency of our government. Sugary drinks will cost more, but every time we attend a hockey game, we experience overexposure to the image of greasy chicken breasts and taters. The provincial government and the City of St. John’s are not on the same page.
The sugary beverage tax has also been criticized by many for being directed at the lower classes. Sugary drinks are well known as a quick and easy means of nourishment. They are mostly taken part by those in a rush, who have little spare money, and who must feed themselves on a budget. Pepsi brand products and its competitors have been a staple in working-class Newfoundland households for over 50 years. The tax won’t affect the consumption of diet beverages, but the health effects of the artificial sweeteners contained in them are controversial at best.