Doctors across Canada who support Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s proposed tax reforms say they want their voices to be heard above the din of criticism from colleagues and medical societies.
To make their point, they have been putting signatures on a letter they plan to send to Morneau this week.
“We were really fed up with the narrative that our colleagues were putting forth and that our medical associations were putting forth as the only opinion out there,” said Dr. Sarah Giles. “We’ll probably have friends never talk to us again. People are ridiculously emotional about this.”
Among other things, Morneau wants to stop allowing some tax-saving mechanisms through incorporation that physicians say are essential given that they have no access to benefits other employees enjoy. Angry medical associations say doctors will leave Canada for the U.S., and female physicians will be disproportionately hurt.
CMA head opposes changes
The president of the Canadian Medical Association said in a recent statement that a delegation had told Morneau that doctors rely on the measures now in place for working capital needed for expanding their practices and, among other things, to deal with “unanticipated costs, sick or parental leave, staff turnover, and other business requirements.”
Signatories to the open letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press, see it much differently. They argue that scrapping the current system will promote tax fairness and give the government more money to spend on health care.
“We need adequate tax revenues to fund social programs such as affordable housing, pharmacare, social assistance, legal aid, and the health-care system itself,” the letter states. “These programs directly impact the health of our patients, and we believe it is important for us to contribute to their sustainability through an adequate tax base.”
Giles, who does stints working with remote Indigenous communities and abroad with Doctors without Borders, said diverting dollars from doctors toward improved care would benefit her money-strapped patients far more than it would harm physicians.
Some doctors say opposition overblown
“There’s a lot of catastrophizing,” she said of those upset at Morneau’s plans. “Why are they hanging their hats on this issue? It feels very self-serving.”
Canadian Medical Association data suggest a large majority of physicians are incorporated. That means they can access various measures to reduce their taxes…