With just one day left for public consultation, many are still voicing their concerns regarding Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s controversial tax reforms.
Dozens of health-care professionals rallied alongside farmers and small business owners in vocal opposition to the changes in front of Morneau’s Toronto office on Sunday.
President of Concerned Ontario Doctors, Kulvinder Gill, spoke at the rally and told CBC Toronto that the proposed tax changes don’t follow through with the Liberal Party’s promise for more taxes on the rich and target the middle class instead.
“What they are doing is sheltering the wealthiest,” Gill said. “If this government is truly about the middle class, they need to slow this down, they need to stop what they’re doing and they need to hire a commission to look into the tax changes.”
Morneau’s proposed tax changes have caused controversy for, among other things, stopping some tax-saving mechanisms that physicians say are vital because they have no access to benefits other employees enjoy.
The tax reforms have also been criticized by those who say doctors rely on existing measures for working capital needed for expanding their practices; to deal with sick or parental leaves; unexpected costs; staff changes and other business needs.
The government’s tax reform will also impact the practices of income splitting — which family members use in order to pay lower taxes — and businesses holding unrelated investments, instead of putting money back to work in said business.
Together, the proposed changes could bring in hundreds of millions more in tax revenue.
Defenders in the health-care sector
The changes have been divisive in the health-care sector, where people will heavily affected.
Some doctors have argued in favour of the changes, saying 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, pharma-care, social assistance, legal aid and the health-care system itself,” reads an open letter from doctors supporting the reform. “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.”
Small business owner Alexander Kluev also spoke at Sunday’s event and said Morneau’s proposal would take $20,000-$30,000 off his income. While he describes himself as middle class, Kluev said he would make $73,000 in a bad year and over $200,000 in a good year at his Oakville IT business.
“When you look at those numbers in isolation, that’s not take home. Out of that comes the salaries of the employees and benefits of employees,” Gill said.
“Each small business physicians’ clinic employs anywhere from four to six staff, so we’re paying for all of those salaries on top of… paying for all of that infrastructure.”
Kluev, however, said that only his wife and himself are on the payroll on staff.
‘Pay your fair share’
Unifor national president Jerry Dias said he is “fascinated” by the uproar against the tax changes by doctors, arguing a significant amount of taxes goes to Canada’s health-care system.
“You’d think they’d want a stable system from which they draw their wages,” he said. “So the fact that a doctor that incorporates himself can pay less taxes than a registered nurse I think is a disaster.”
Dias added that we can keep our health-care system healthy when people pay their fair amount of taxes.
“I’m fascinated by how rich people like to complain about paying their fair share of taxes,” he said. “I think it’s greed. So for those who are really complaining, too bad — pay your fair share like everybody else.”