Prince Edward Island

Tax changes 'aggressive attack on physicians,' says doctor

Dr. Trevor Jain concerned some doctors could leave the country

Kevin Yarr - CBC News

September 12, 2017

Doctors cannot raise fees to cover losses under the proposed tax plan, says Dr. Trevor Jain. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

An emergency doctor on P.E.I. is speaking out about proposed federal tax changes that he says will have a big impact on the ability of doctors to save for the future.

'My feeling is they will go where they are valued.' - Dr. Trevor Jain

Dr. Trevor Jain says he thinks federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau is playing on the envy people have of doctor's relatively high incomes.

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"The minister of finance seems to have left the top point-five per cent alone with regards to these tax changes, and has taken a very aggressive attack on physicians, lawyers, chartered accountants and other professionals," said Jain.

The federal Liberals are proposing a number of changes to how small businesses operate, closing what it calls loopholes, and Jain said many doctors are incorporated as businesses.

3 major changes

The proposed changes include eliminating income sprinkling, which allows incorporated small businesses to shift income to family members who may or may not work for them and get taxed at a lower rate.

Another reform would reduce the ability of private corporations to make passive investments in stocks and real estate.

A third change would eliminate the ability to convert a corporation's earnings into capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate.

Jain said the tax changes will cost physicians a lot of money, and because their fees and salaries are set by provincial governments, they can't pass those losses on to their customers as other professionals could.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the changes will remove unfair advantages. (Ben Nelms/Canadian Press)

He conceded that doctor incomes are on the higher scale, but noted that they also invest a lot of time and money in their training, adding it can take 10 to 15 years and leave doctors $250,000 in debt.

He is concerned that the costs of the tax changes could prompt doctors to leave the country.

"We already have an MD shortage," said Jain, adding he is particularly concerned about doctors who are just starting their practice.

"We have a younger group — board-certified [emergency room] docs — that are mobile. They've got debt to pay. They have no roots here. My feeling is they will go where they are valued."

Jain said he has discussed his concerns with several MPs.

The deadline for public comment on the proposed changes is Oct. 2.

With files from Island Morning
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