Food and Beverages Served or Sold in Educational and Healthcare Institutions and Other Public Sector Bodies

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Exempt food and beverages

Food and beverages sold in educational and healthcare institutions and other public sector bodies may be exempt from the GST and QST. This is the case, for example, of food and beverages:

  • prepared for students in elementary and secondary schools and served in a cafeteria or during extra-curricular activities organized by the school
  • served
    • to patients and residents of healthcare institutions
    • by a public sector body in a place where recreational activities are held for underprivileged or disabled persons
  • sold
    • to the elderly, disabled or underprivileged persons in their place of residence under a program established to provide prepared food and beverages
    • by a public sector body under a program to relieve poverty, suffering or distress, except food and beverages sold as part of a fund-raising activity

In colleges and universities, the meals served to students by restaurants and cafeterias are exempt from tax if they are under a plan providing at least 10 meals per week for at least one month.

Taxable food and beverages

Some food and beverages sold in educational and healthcare institutions and other public sector bodies are taxable. Examples include the following:

  • food and beverages sold through vending machines, other than those that accept a coin of $0.25 or less per transaction
  • beverages, potato chips and other similar snacks sold to students in elementary or secondary schools and served in the school cafeteria or during extra-curricular activities organized by the school
  • food and beverages served at receptions, private meetings and other special events taking place in educational institutions 
  • food and beverages sold in cafeterias operated in hospitals and in public sector buildings (for example, in government office buildings)
  • confections and snack foods
  • carbonated beverages, alcoholic beverages and fruit-flavoured or fruit-juice beverages containing less than 25% natural fruit juice

For more information, see the brochure The QST and the GST/HST: How They Apply to Foods and Beverages (IN-216-V).

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