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September 4, 2017 | The burden

A best-selling Canadian author of 14 books on economic trends, real estate, the financial crisis, personal finance strategies, taxation and politics. Nationally-known speaker and lecturer on macroeconomics, the housing market and investment techniques. He is a licensed Investment Advisor with a fee-based, no-commission Toronto-based practice serving clients across Canada.


Andrew’s a doc. Mid-forties. Anesthesiologist. Wife, kids, house. Moved from the big city to the small town. “In a place best known for being home to a large petroleum refinery,” he says, “a bit of forestry-related business and a 150-year-old brewery.” But even in bucolic New Brunswick, Andy’s been touched by the hungry hand of a prime minister.

“I don’t mind asking the wealthy to pay more,” T2 said on the weekend, when asked about the uproar his proposed  small-biz and dr-crushing tax measures have caused. Tomorrow in Kelowna his Liberal MPs gather to caucus. The new taxes will be centre stage for the former drama teacher now leading the nation.

To date the plans to seriously whack earnings retained within a business plus end the ability of the self-employed to income split, have been characterized by the feds as ‘loopholes.’ Money guy Bill Morneau says change must come in the name of ‘middle class fairness.’ The campaign to portray current laws as suddenly corrupt and benefiting only the wealthy (and that all small biz guys are plush)  has been successful. Need proof? Look at the comments on this blog.

Back to Andy. “I was hoping to share some insight into what things may actually look like down the pipeline for patients, from the physician side of things,” he says. “I’m not really sure if people understand what the effect of these tax charge will be on the provision of healthcare in Canada.  If people truly believe that docs are just gonna work way more to make up for whatever lost income Trudeau & Morneau hoover away, they might want to consider the reality of what physicians are actually saying to each other about their plans.”

Now, NB has only 750,000 people (on a good day when a bunch of relatives visit), but it may provide a microcosm for the doctoring business in all of Canada. In Andrew’s region there are 308 fee-for-service doctors (not salaried people at hospitals, but who run their own clinics or are paid as small business operators). In a recent online poll, 54% of them responded. “If these numbers are even close to being representative of other parts of the country,” says A, “I don’t know how we’re not in trouble.”

Here are the results: should the T2 tax plan be implemented, 65% of physicians are considering moving. Just over 80% are planning on reducing their hours of work. With proposed changes in effect, 38% say they will retire early. “Understanding that there is likely overlap in the responses and that those potentially in favour of the changes may not have taken the survey, 82% of people cutting office hours is huge.  Even if we count the 46% of fee-for-service physicians that didn’t answer as people who won’t change anything in their work pattern, then that would still mean 44.4% of docs would be looking at cutting work hours!”

As in every other province, the NB medical association is now surveying all members. The results will augment the cacophony of voices in organizations representing millions of farmers, exporters, manufacturers and small business dudes that have come together, hastily, to oppose the T2 plan. Anger that the consultation period was only 75 days long, and took place in the stillness of summer, with MPs out of Parliament, is palpable. The campaign has started:


As for Andrew: “Add up the essential expenses to be covered, make a few tough decisions about spending here and there and once that gets sorted, looks like I’ll be spending less time at work and more time with my wife and family.  So here I am, supposedly in my “prime earning years” and the reality is, there aren’t enough hours in the day to make up any new “tax shortfall” by working more so, why bother?  I’ll never get back the time I might spend trying to chase a few extra dollars that I only have to give to Bill anyway.”

Are docs overpaid? Maybe. But to become one takes smarts, time and massive schooling. Like plumbers and IT guys, fee-for-service medical people don’t have pensions, paid vacations, sick days or benefits. Most of them have staffs, offices and overhead. After all that’s taken into consideration, maybe they still earn too much. As the prime minister says, they’re wealthy. So they should pay more. But there are consequences. If eight of ten plan on working less and four will retire if Justin proceeds, we’ll have achieved ‘fairness’ at a high cost. Good luck finding a doctor.

In a letter to his Liberal MP (Ron McKinnon) in Coquitlam on Friday, another blog day had this to share:

“My father came to this country with nothing and worked and saved for a better life for his kids.  I was never brought up in a wealthy family, so to get ahead I went to school earned two degrees and a professional designation.  I then opened two business by the time I was 31.  I did this on my own and after years of pressing on I am finally a “high earner”… this, however, makes me “middle class” in a city where homes cost over a million dollars.

“Now all of a sudden the tax rules, which have been in place for many years and during other liberal governments, are conveniently considered “loop holes”? A wise man once said, “There are three things in the world that deserve no mercy, hypocrisy, fraud, and tyranny.”   I assure you that I and many others like me across Canada will show the Liberals no mercy come the next election.

“If any Liberal MPs truly value small business and can’t convince those in charge – as seems apparent based on Justin’s recent comments – the only solution is a short walk across the aisle.  Those brave enough and with enough integrity to do so would be championed by the people and would navigate the country away from policy proposed by the misguided and hypocritical.”

The burden may not be too little taxing, but too much spending. Perhaps it’s not us. Maybe it’s them.


Itinerary for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Sept. 5:

Kelowna, British Columbia

3:15 p.m. The Prime Minister will visit the Kelowna Fire Department Fire Station 1.

Fire Station 1
2255 Enterprise Way

Notes for media:

  • Photo opportunity only
  • Media should arrive no later than 2:45 p.m.

6:00 p.m. The Prime Minister will hike Knox Mountain.

580 Knox Mountain Drive

Notes for media:

  • Photo opportunity only
  • Media should arrive no later than 5:30 p.m. in the parking lot

Media appearances

An interview with the Prime Minister will be featured on Castanet Kelowna.

An interview with the Prime Minister will air on Global Okanagan live at 5:00 p.m.

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September 4th, 2017

Posted In: The Greater Fool

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