A controversial series of proposed tax reforms from the Trudeau government may have one less supporter if it goes to Parliament later this year.
Andy Filmore, MP for Halifax, told Global News that he is not able to support the federal government’s current plan to end what they say are “unfair tax advantages.”
“I think there are some modifications that are required in order to be supportable and in order to achieve the goals of what the proposal is,” Filmore said in an interview on Friday.
It’s a move that puts the Liberal backbencher at odds with his own party. Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the proposed changes in July.
Fillmore said that he’s spent the last five weeks attempting to convince Morneau and the rest of cabinet that the adjustments are needed so that Canadians will support the legislation.
“Any changes that happen have to be able to provide parity for those that are funding their own retirements with those Canadians that are lucky enough to have those things looked after for them,” he said.
The changes would, according to 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, all of which can shelter money from higher tax rates.
But the proposed tax changes have been slammed by business owners across the country.
In the Maritimes, the loudest opposition has come from doctors and small business owners.
Small business owners say that the proposed tax changes will affect them, even though they’re not among the country’s wealthiest, while doctors in the region have said it’ll make it even harder to establish a practice.
Doctors in both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia 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.
WATCH: Federal tax changes could be ‘catastrophic’ for Nova Scotia doctors
Fillmore appeared hopeful that changes to the proposal are possible.
“The minister is listening, he was very clear to me and with the caucus that he is listening very closely to his caucus, his MPs as well as Canadians on what those changes need to be,” he said.
“I’m taking every advantage of that consultation opportunity to press upon him the importance of getting these changes right.”
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.
Darren Fisher, MP for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, did not comment on whether he’d support the proposal. He said that he’s been meeting and talking with his constituents about the proposal.
“This is an open consultation and it’s very important that folks submit their concerns and suggestions to the Department of Finance’s consultation website at: http://www.fin.gc.ca/activty/consult/tppc-pfsp-eng.asp,” Fisher said in an emailed statement.
“I’m also encouraging all of my constituents to send me a copy of their submitted testimony so I can continue to advocate on their behalf to the Minister of Finance”
— With files from Monique Scotti