The federal finance minister has launched a consultation on proposed changes to how private corporations are taxed. These proposed changes, if implemented, will be devastating to many physicians, especially those with community-based practices.
Doctors of BC is extremely concerned and will strongly defend the interests of physicians and our patients. The federal finance minister’s plan would not only create significant financial challenges for physicians, but it also threatens our ability to care for patients.
First, I will speak to the financial challenges. We form private corporations because we do not have the benefits that go to salaried employees. Over 30% of our fees go toward overhead costs, including staffing and equipment. In my clinic alone, our group of physicians employs 17 staff members who provide for their families and pay their taxes. We provide benefits to them, as employees, that are not available to us as physician employers. We pay for our own medical coverage, extended health benefits and pensions. If we become ill, we don’t get paid. If we take a holiday, we don’t get paid. All we are asking for is to be treated fairly.
The impact of the changes goes beyond the individual physicians and will also be felt by our patients. In BC we have seen a renaissance in primary care, with more medical students now choosing to become family doctors than we have seen in many years. If the proposed changes become law, drastically reducing their income to the point where it is not sustainable to run a practice, we will once again see a decline. This is the worst thing that can happen at a time when the province faces a significant challenge to meet patient demand for care. I just recently received a letter from a BC physician who is so frustrated that she is thinking of packing up and moving her practice to the US.
The same holds true for community-based Specialists. By necessity, many are in solo practice or smaller groups, and often have specialized and expensive equipment needs in addition to higher staffing costs. We are a small business unlike any other, providing frontline care for our patients. Ultimately this is not just about physicians – this is about the ability of our patients to access care.
We have received e-mails from members asking us about what we will do to support you. We are working closely with the Canadian Medical Association, our national professional organization, on strategy and to create a comprehensive brief for the federal government outlining the serious and unfair implications of the changes. We are working with other Provincial-Territorial Medical Associations to support a co-ordinated strategy to advocate across the country. We are also working on a media and social media campaign.
I will keep you apprised of our progress; meanwhile, there is something you can do to help us. Send me your individual stories on how the proposed tax changes will impact you and your patients, and we will use them to develop our response in a way that tells your stories. You can reach me at President@DoctorsofBC.ca. I also encourage you to send your e-mails outlining your stories to your federal Member of Parliament.
Doctors of BC stands with you on this important issue. Let’s work together to ensure our voices are heard.
Dr Trina Larsen Soles, M.Sc. M.D. FRRMS
President, Doctors of BC