Survey says … Albertans want to be taxed for their sins

by Morinville News Staff

Albertans want to be taxed for their sins. This according to Wellness Alberta, a coalition of more than 100 organizations from various sectors that are calling for the creation of a provincial Wellness Foundation to improve Albertans’ health.

Citing a recent Leger Research poll, the organization says a majority of Albertans support tax increases on tobacco, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened beverages if a portion of the revenue goes towards wellness initiatives.”

The online survey was conducted Feb. 2 to 5 and polled 1,010 Albertans. Of that number, 74 per cent said they support a tobacco tax increase if a portion of the tax revenue is applied to effective measures to improve Albertans’ health. Another 63 per cent of those surveyed felt the same way about tax increases on alcohol, and 59 per cent were in favour of taxing sugar-sweetened beverages if a portion of the revenue went to effective wellness measures.

“Albertans strongly support tax increases on these products when a portion of the revenue collected is invested in effective measures to improve public health,” said campaign team member Dr. Kim Raine in a release Wednesday morning. “The government can achieve a triple-win in Budget 2015 by raising additional tax revenue, by reducing consumption with higher prices, and by investing a portion of the revenue in the health of Albertans.”

The organization claims chronic diseases and injuries are responsible for about 90 per cent of Canada’s illness expenditures, but that the province spends one per cent of healthcare dollars on primary prevention of chronic disease and injury. The organization claims “investments in primary prevention can produce returns of up to 50 dollars for every dollar invested.” They recommend school nutrition, workplace wellness, youth engagement, active living, and positive parenting programs as examples of effective preventative approaches.

The coalition is urging the provincial government to double its wellness investment by creating an arms-length foundation to provide sustainable funding for health promotion and disease prevention. They believe tax increases on tobacco or alcohol or sugary beverages could fund the Wellness Foundation.

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