Le Lézard
Classified in: Health
Subjects: SVY, AVO, MAT

Alberta convenience retailers: Contraband tobacco represents a major tax loss for our province that could go to healthcare spending instead

EDMONTON, AB, March 28, 2023 /CNW/ - Alberta's retailers are speaking up about the significant decline in projected tobacco tax revenue for 2022-23, from Alberta's budget projection of $760 million to $565 million.

"We believe the loss in tax revenue due to illegal tobacco trafficking can be used to help address challenges Alberta is facing in delivering vital public services to Albertans. One prime example would be the healthcare system where Alberta is below the national average in healthcare spending."

There is a strong incentive to recover lost tobacco tax revenue especially with the news that Alberta trails below the national average in health-care spending while healthcare administration costs are on the rise.

A recent report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows Alberta will spend an estimated $38.7 billion on health care in 2022. The spending equates to an average of $8,545 per Albertan, $18 less per person than the national average. It also represents a 3.5 per cent decrease in Alberta's health care costs per person compared to 2021.

Despite the overall drop in year-over-year expenditures, the CIHI found that administration costs in Alberta rose by 9.6 per cent - the most significant uptick out of any other listed category in the report.

Alberta can no longer ignore the contraband tobacco problem that robs Albertans of millions each year. According to the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC), in 2020-21, provincial revenue from tobacco taxes was approximately $755 million.

Contraband tobacco reduces revenue for business owners through legal sales. Lawful and legal convenience store owners should not have to compete with organized crime. Many small business owners are managing their businesses during this time of economic uncertainty. Illicit tobacco adds another complex layer to sustaining a small business in Alberta.

The Alberta Retailers Coalition (ARC) is an advocacy group with a mission to educate and raise awareness about the rapidly growing problem of contraband tobacco in Alberta. They are asking the Alberta government to create a Contraband Prevention Taskforce to help combat this problem in Alberta.

For more information:  https://www.albertaretailerscoalition.ca

Related Links

$4.5 million in contraband tobacco products seized by AGLC investigators

CIHI - National health expenditure trends

SOURCE Alberta Retailers Coalition

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