REGINA - Today, Official Opposition Leader Carla Beck and Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon called on Premier Scott Moe to immediately scrap the Sask. Party’s so-called “snack tax.”
“I don’t even know how you can defend taxing food during a cost-of-living crisis,” said Beck. “If you buy granola bars for your kids’ lunches or a rotisserie chicken for a quick dinner between your kids’ activities, chances are you’re being charged the so-called ‘snack tax.’ Every level of government needs to be looking for ways we can reduce costs for working families. Regardless of your politics, I think we can all agree that this Sask. Party tax on food just isn’t on.”
According to Angus Reid, Saskatchewan people report the highest levels of financial insecurity in Canada and are the most likely to struggle to pay for groceries. This is compounded by the Sask. Party government's decision to expand the PST in 2017 to include a slew of different food items.
Certain food items classified as snacks and snack-sized, such as granola bars or muffins in packages of five or less, are subject to 6% PST. With families choosing smaller food items on account of budgetary pressures, food packagers are downsizing products, a phenomenon that experts call shrinkflation. This means that cash-strapped consumers opting for smaller food items are at greater risk of being taxed.
The rules around what types of food are and aren’t subject to the Sask. Party's so-called “snack tax” are convoluted. Rotisserie chickens are taxable while raw chicken is not. Nuts are taxable when mixed or salted. Protein and energy bars are taxed unless marketed as meal replacements. The Sask. Party government has even chosen to tax some yogurt products and packaged salads while exempting iced tea mix and microwavable popcorn.
“We’re not talking about junk food. The Sask. Party’s so-called ‘snack tax’ affects the staples of any good school lunch or quick family dinner,” said Wotherspoon. “Shopping for groceries is stressful enough and folks shouldn't have to worry about PST unexpectedly popping up on their receipts. If it’s food and you buy it from a grocery store, you shouldn’t have to pay tax.”