September 6, 2017 11:38 am
Updated: September 6, 2017 12:00 pm

65% of N.B. doctors would leave province if federal tax changes come into effect: survey

FILE: Doctors in New Brunswick are pushing back against proposed Federal tax changes

AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma, File
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Doctors in New Brunswick aren’t happy with a series of proposed federal tax changes that they say will force them to leave the province and degrade the current state of health care.

Both the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) and other regional health organizations in the province have issued statements in the past week condemning the proposed changes which are set to target small business owners across the country.

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“Most doctors in New Brunswick and in the rest of Canada rely on legitimate tax measures to operate viable medical practices,” Dr. Lynn Murphy-Kaulbeck, the president of the NBMS, told Global News.

“We are all here because we want to be but if the tax changes come there will be huge losses for health care delivery in the province.”

According to the New Brunswick Medical Society, 70 per cent of doctors in the province are incorporated as small business owners.

READ MORE: Farmers, doctors lead blowback against proposed tax changes

Survey results

Two separate surveys conducted by the NBMS and Tax Fairness New Brunswick, a coalition of groups pushing back against the federal government’s tax changes, hint at a large number of doctors opposing the new tax changes.

A survey by Tax Fairness New Brunswick that was answered by 10 per cent of the province’s doctors indicates 65 per cent would consider leaving the province if the changes were to come into effect.

Over 80 per cent of respondents to the survey say they’d have to alter or reduce their hours due to the changes.

Another survey, this one carried out by NBMS, found that out of 500 doctors in the province, 46 per cent would consider leaving the province and taking their practice with them if the tax changes came into effect.

A quarter of the doctors from the survey said they’d consider retiring from the medical profession altogether.

WATCH: Federal tax changes could be ‘catastrophic’ for Nova Scotia doctors

Proposed changes

The changes announced in July would, according to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, close loopholes in the federal tax system that disproportionately benefit wealthy Canadians.

The tax-dodging manoeuvres that Morneau said the changes would get rid of involve so-called “tax-sprinkling”  or using a private corporation to spread income among family members to create tax savings, using private corporations as a substitute for a regular savings account or converting a private corporation’s regular income into capital gains, both of which can shelter money from higher tax rates.

But doctors in both New Brunswick and neighbouring Nova Scotia disagree. They’re already among the lowest-paid doctors in the country.

They say that they won’t be able to increase their fees, which are set by their respective provincial governments, leaving them with less money after taxes for things such as parental leave or paying off student loans.

Dr. Paul Young, a doctor in Bedford, N.S., told Global News in August that the tax changes could end up costing him $2,000 a month in income, enough to make him reconsider practicing in the province.

“At the end of the day, physicians are either not going to be able to come to Nova Scotia or they’re going to leave because they’re not going to be able to practice here,” said Young.

The public has a chance to weigh in on the tax proposals until Oct. 2, as part of a 75-day public consultation process.

It’s expected the minister will introduce legislation addressing the tax changes next spring.

— With files from Monique Scotti

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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