A Saskatoon accounting firm says it’s been more than 50 years since the country has seen anything like this.
The magnitude of newly proposed federal tax changes is now being compared to the Carter Commission.
The Carter Commission took years to complete an examination of the tax system, followed by another six years to implement selected tax reforms, according to Michael Gorniak with Thomson Jaspar, as opposed to a 75-day consultation period launched by the current federal government in July with plans to make massive changes within a matter of months.
“These are not tax changes in my opinion, these are completely revamping tax policy in Canada,” said Gorniak, who has been trying to navigate his clients through these complex and extremely technical changes.
One of those clients includes Chris Ransom, owner of Ranco Millwork just outside of Saskatoon, a second-generation operation that manufactures cabinets for other businesses and has been doing so for 30 years.
“We’re concerned about the proposed tax changes and the effect that they’ll have on other Saskatchewan small businesses because if there’s a change in how many new businesses, renovate, relocate – it really will hurt our industry,” Ransom said.
The operation supports six families from the surrounding area and will face Justin Trudeau’s tax changes aimed at making sure wealthy Canadians pay their fair share.
“I don’t know what fair is because as a small business owner I’m taking on all the risk of owning the business from getting a loan to start the business or maintain business,” Ransom added.
“And I don’t get the same benefits as an employee. I don’t get unemployment insurance, I don’t get maternity benefits, I don’t have a pension plan and I don’t get overtime.”
The federal government said it’s all ears to any concerns Canadians might have.
“We’re going to continue to listen to those small and medium sized business owners to make sure that we get this right,” Canada’s Finance Minister Bill Morneau said.
“Make no mistake, we will ensure that we follow through on our commitment to make sure our tax system is fair.”
Gorniak said he’s not so sure from what he’s seen so far.
“These are not tax changes in my opinion, these are completely revamping tax policy in Canada.”
His accounting firm has now unleashed an informational video for anyone with questions and a letter writing campaign so those with concerns can have their voices heard.
“We’re worried about from the small business side the jobs that are at risk, from the farming side we’re worried about the farms to the next generation and from the medical side we’re actually concerned about health care in Canada.”
Gorniak said one client who is a physician is facing a tax increase of $22,000 and understands that taxpayers may be less sympathetic in this situation.
He was quick to point out that her husband stays at home raising their children while she’s on-call and is now considering moving to the United States.
“It has been predicted by 2025, the U.S. will have a doctor shortage of between 62,000 and 95,000 doctors – there’s 83,000 in all of Canada,” Gorniak said.
“They get paid more in the United States, $250,000 signing bonuses so ‘goodbye student loan.’ What is going to be the incentive for doctors to stay here?”
Not much, according to one poll done among physicians in New Brunswick.
“The New Brunswick doctors were surveyed last week, 65 per cent of them said they’d leave if these changes went through. I don’t think they’re bluffing,” Gorniak said.
A rally is now scheduled in Saskatoon for Thursday at noon and will start at the Saskatoon Funeral Home followed by a march to the Canada Revenue Agency building, for anyone fired up about what some are calling an attack on the middle class.