January 1, 2019
Learn how local, provincial and territorial governments can increase healthy eating by minimizing taxes on healthy foods
Inside this healthy eating policy pack
- Background evidence: healthy eating and cancer
- Evidence-informed policy actions to increase healthy eating
- Key statistics: healthy eating in Canada
- Public and policymakers’ perceptions of healthy eating in Canada
- Economic evidence to support healthy eating policy
- Indicators to measure progress on healthy eating policy
Minimize taxes on healthy foods
Minimize taxes on healthy foods 1,2,3,4
- Taxes on healthy foods are minimized to encourage healthy food choices 1,2,3,4
Degree of policy adoption*
Provinces and territories: HIGH
31 Canadian municipalities:** HIGH
Current action(s) in Canada
Provinces, territories and 31 Canadian municipalities**
Adoption of evidence-informed policy action related to minimizing taxes on healthy foods across provinces, territories and municipalities is high, as the federal Excise Tax Act 5 exempts taxes on basic groceries. Certain categories of foodstuffs, for example, carbonated beverages, candies and confectionery, and snack foods are taxable.
In addition, in Ontario, prepared foods sold for under a total cost of $4.00 are exempt from the provincial portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), however, there is no requirement for the prepared foods to be healthy.
Opportunities for action
Taxation policies could be strengthened by implementing taxation of unhealthy foods or removing taxes on healthy prepared foods.6
* Levels of adoption: LOW = very few jurisdictions have adopted evidence-informed policy action; MEDIUM = some, but not all jurisdictions have adopted evidence-informed policy action; HIGH = most jurisdictions have adopted evidence-informed policy action.
** Prevention Policies Directory captures information for 31 Canadian municipalities (18 largest municipalities in Canada, and at least 1-2 largest municipalities in all other provinces/territories).
1 Vanderlee L, Goorang S, Karbasy K, Schermel A, L’Abbe M. Creating healthier food environments in Canada: Current policies and priority actions – Summary report. Toronto; University of Toronto, 2017.
2 World Cancer Research Fund International. NOURISHING policy framework. Retrieved from: https://www.wcrf.org/int/policy/nourishing/our-policy-framework-promote-healthy-diets-reduce-obesity
3 World Cancer Research Fund International. (2009). Policy recommendations. Retrieved from: https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/cancer-prevention-recommendations
4 World Health Organization (2013). Global action plan for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases: https://www.who.int/nmh/events/ncd_action_plan/en/
5 Government of Canada. (2007). Basic groceries. Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/forms-publications/publications/4-3/basic-groceries.html
6 Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention (APCCP). (2018). Alberta’s Nutrition Report Card on Healthy Food Environments for Children and Youth. Retrieved from: http://abpolicycoalitionforprevention.ca/evidence/albertas-nutrition-report-card/