A group called Doctors for Fair Taxation is calling on the Canadian government to increase their taxes. Under the slogan, “Tax us. Canada’s worth it,” these doctors are suggesting the implementation of additional surtaxes for high earning Canadians.
Personal income taxes in Canada are determined by a combination of federal and provincial income tax rates, using tax brackets based on income levels. However, the tax brackets top out at an annual income of $132,406. That means that anyone who earns more than that will pay the same rate on any additional dollar earned. The combined marginal tax rate for earnings above $132,406 ranges from 39% in Alberta (29% federal, 10% provincial) to 48.22% in Quebec. So someone earning $135,000 has the same marginal tax rate as someone earning millions of dollars.
The Doctors for Fair Taxation are proposing a sliding scale of additional taxes for high earners, specifically:
- 1% additional tax for earnings between $100,000 and $170,000 (top 10% of earners)
- 2% additional tax for earnings between $170,000 and $640,000 (top 1% of earners)
- 3% additional tax for earnings between $640,000 and $1.85 million (top 1/10 of 1% of earners)
- 6% additional tax on earnings over $1.85 million (top 1/100 of 1% of earners)
According to their calculations, this would bring in an additional $3.5 billion annually for the federal government and $1.7 billion for the province of Ontario.
The reasons for the proposed sur-tax are simple. According to Dr. Gary Bloch, a Toronto family doctor and assistant professor at the University of Toronto, “almost all of the economic gains of the past decade have gone to Canada’s top 1% but our taxes haven’t gone up accordingly.” Dr. Tanya Zakrison says “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?” Another doctor, Dr. Rosana Pellizzari notes that cutbacks in one area can actually result in increased costs and pressure on our health care system in other areas: “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 the government is cutting back on] that keep them from returning to the emergency department.”
The doctors point out that unequal societies are less healthy than equal ones and they want to take the lead in asking for greater social justice. Their idea is an excellent one, but unlikely to be implemented with a majority Conservative government in power.
What can the doctors do, in the meantime, to convince their colleagues and counterparts in other industries to voluntarily turn their proposed surtax into charitable donations toward organizations that provide community services?