Over 320 doctors Sign Letter to Support Proposed Federal Tax Changes
More than 320 doctors from across Canada in various specialties have signed an open letter to the Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau that calls for the need to both collaborate as well as to create a more equitable tax system. The letter comes on the heels of significant media coverage of opposition from physicians and physician groups, mentioning the need for a more nuanced perspective.
The letter supports Morneau’s proposal to end certain tax benefits currently available to incorporated physicians, while acknowledging there are deficits in the existing employment structure for many physicians. “We recognize that physicians have many reasons to be frustrated with the health care system,” says Dr. Hasan Sheikh, an Ontario emergency room doctor who will be impacted by the proposed tax changes. “As an incorporated physician, I feel issues such as physician remuneration models, access to parental leave and medical student debt should not be addressed through tax mechanisms not equitably available to all physicians.”
The letter highlights the fact that the median income of an individual in Canada was $33,920 in 2015, a fraction of the income of most full-time physicians. It goes on to describe the need for adequate tax revenues to fund social programs, for which various mechanisms should be explored.
“We need a comprehensive tax policy review, including the processes that benefit the wealthiest Canadians,” says Dr. Mei-Ling Wiedmeyer, a family physician in Vancouver. “Even as a physician with a fee-for-service practice where I contribute to overhead, and with children for whom I’ve taken maternity leave, I still think our tax dollars need to equitably go towards funding areas such as childcare programs and Indigenous health.”
The letter acknowledges that some incorporated physicians, such as those who have been saving for their retirement through passive investment, may face significant financial challenges and asks the federal government to create a transition plan for those most impacted, along with several other asks.
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