Public Values

Austerity budgets aren't healthy

Doctors tell Harper and McGuinty to raise their taxes.

Dr. Bloch: Tax us. Canada is worth it.TORONTO, ON, March 22, 2012: A group of doctors who rank among Canada's top income earners urge the Ontario and federal governments to raise taxes on the rich to balance the budget and spare needed public services from austerity cuts.

"Almost all the economic gains of the past decade have gone to Canada's top 1 percent but our taxes haven't gone up accordingly," says Dr. Gary Bloch, a downtown Toronto family doctor and University of Toronto Assistant Professor. "Now that our governments are dealing with deficits, the main ideas on the table are to cut programs that all Canadians rely on. Instead of cutting public services, we say to the Ontario and federal governments, that's not healthy. There's another option: Tax us. Canada's worth it."

  "Why aren't we talking about those of us with higher incomes paying our fair share?"

Dr. Tanya Zakrison, a Toronto trauma surgeon, frequently operates on young people caught up in street violence. "We're debating cutting back programs and services that are crucial to providing young people with alternatives to a life of gangs, drugs and violence. Why aren't we talking about those of us with higher incomes paying our fair share?"

Dr. Rosana Pellizzari, an Ontario Public Health Doctor and a Queen's and University of Toronto adjunct professor, notes unequal societies are less healthy than more equal ones. "We spend tens of thousands of dollars of care rescuing a homeless person's life but if they end up on the streets again, it's public services that keep them from returning to the emergency department," And Dr. Pellizzari adds. "Canada is the only wealthy country without a national housing policy. I would pay higher taxes to support affordable housing — it's the least I can do as a high income earner to contribute back to my community."

Dr. Michael Rachlis, a public health physician and Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, observes that Canadian governments have slashed taxes in the past 10 years by 6 percent of Gross Domestic Product — the equivalent of $100 billion of foregone revenue every year. Doctors for Fair Taxation is calling for four new Federal and Ontario income tax brackets at $100,000, $170,000, $640,000 and $1,850,000, corresponding to the top 10 percent, 1 percent, one tenth of one percent, and one hundredth of one percent of taxpayers. The group estimates that these new tax brackets would raise approximately $3.5 billion in new revenue for the federal government and $1.7 billion for the Ontario government.

"One half of that $100 billion in tax cuts would pay for the total of Canadian government deficits projected for this year," Rachlis says. "Our group considers higher taxes a small price to pay for a more enlightened Canada."

Links and sources
  Doctors to governments: "Tax us. Canada's worth it."

Posted: April 05, 2012

  Health care
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