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Letter to the Editor: Tax system changes

I feel compelled to share some of my concerns about the upcoming changes to the tax system as it applies to small businesses.
Letters to the editor

To the editor:

I feel compelled to share some of my concerns about the upcoming changes to the tax system as it applies to small businesses. The small business in Canada is now the number one creator of jobs for everybody. I could address the many concerns I have about how these changes will impact employment for the thousands locally who are employed by small businesses. I could focus on my sense of dismay at being labeled a tax-cheat in the media. I will instead focus on the concerns I have as they apply to the people of Northwestern Ontario and their medical needs.

It is no secret that Northwest Ontario faces significant challenges in recruitment and retention of physicians. In the regions outside Thunder Bay these challenges are extreme and I frequently hear complaints from patients about the extreme barriers they have to accessing a medical care provider.

The reasons for the recruitment and retention challenges are many and the issues are very complex. In this context I think the changes that are being suggested are very ill-advised. Anything that makes the practice of medicine in Ontario less appealing will have negative consequences. These consequences will be felt most acutely in the North. We may see physicians motivated to leave for other jurisdictions and I think that motivation will be most obvious for physicians new to practice. Physicians who have not laid down roots will be the most likely to explore all options. It is these very physicians that Northwestern Ontario needs.

I incorporated my medical practice in a lawful and good faith manner and with the explicit encouragement from Government. I use my Corporation to employ others. In the absence of a pension I was to use my Corporation to prepare for my eventual retirement. If I use any of the money in Corporation for personal use I pay 100 per cent personal tax on it.

I have often worked more than 100 hours a week in our chronically under-serviced area. I do not regret or resent this. My motivation has been the duty of care I have for sick people. The constant day and night work has come at a cost to me personally and as a married father of four. I am not unique in this regard. Any owner of a small business -- professional or otherwise -- has had to work the "extra hours", spent years studying and often racking up substantial debt to finance studies or a growing business.

The proposal to tax growth in planned retirement assets at over 70 per cent is certainly no incentive to continue working quite as hard as I do. I am not alone in this sentiment and this issue applies to more than just doctors. It affects a wide range of small business owners who do not have a pension.

I want to be clear that it is not greed that has had me working so hard. It is the need that is out there. I think that by targeting physicians as tax cheats and compromising the ability for small business people to plan for retirement and run their businesses these tax proposals will have many unintended consequences for the economy as a whole. For the under-serviced patients of Northern Ontario, I fear these policies will make bad problems far worse.

Eric Davenport,
Thunder Bay