The Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce says a tax on sugary drinks will hurt the businesses it represents.
Executive director of the chamber Deneen Everett says she was approached by Yellowknife businesses, distributors and retailers, who would be directly impacted by the tax. They told her the tax would add administrative burdens and increase the cost of doing business.
“The administrative burden would be very substantial for them,” she says. “One of the members mentioned that they would have to hire someone to help remit this tax and to track it.” Some members would also have to modify computerized cash registers to record the tax.
This would hurt smaller businesses in particular, Everett says, but also larger businesses who Everett says contribute substantially to the community.
“A tax like this would have a widespread impact on the Yellowknife business community – pretty much anywhere that sells any type of pop or sugar-sweetened drinks would be responsible for potentially collecting that tax and remitting it back to the GNWT.”
The GNWT committed to investigating the introduction of a tax in the 2017-2018 budget. The reasoning behind the tax, according to a government discussion paper, is to reduce consumption of sugar and improve the health of NWT residents.
The GNWT’s Department of Finance held public meetings on the proposed tax in Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk and Yellowknife last month. During the public engagement,the chamber submitted a letter opposing the tax on behalf of its 393-strong membership of Yellowknife businesses.
The engagement session is now closed and a report summarizing the findings is expected in May, says communications officer Todd Sasaki.