Sasha Cormier-Meyer is a young New Brunswicker who has chosen to live and raise a family in her home province. She has two small children and spends her days trying to make this a better province for them and for all families living here. Sasha does that by running a small business: her medical practice. And she’s worried that changes to federal tax laws are about to make access to health care more difficult for families. Sasha agreed to share her thoughts on how the proposed changes could see doctors limiting office time or even closing their doors. We thought readers might be interested to hear from a young mom how these tax changes could impact our community.
I expected to be called a lot of things as a family doctor and emergency physician, but I never expected to be called a cheat. That’s what the federal government is calling me, and other small business owners.
It stings to know that as I am giving all of my energy on the front lines of health care, my government is working to try to turn people against my profession by calling us greedy and accusing us of incorporation cheating.
Physicians aren’t trying to cheat anyone with incorporating. It’s the one plus that stacks against the several negatives that come with being your own employer.
As a fee-for-service physician, I do not have sick leave. I do not have vacation time. I do not have maternity leave coverage. I have no pension coming to me when I retire. Being incorporated allows me to save for my family’s future. For me to stay in this career, one that I spent 10 years training for (that’s 10 years not earning money like my peers), I need the ability to save for retirement.
I don’t need sick leave; I’m healthy, and I can take my chances I stay that way. I don’t need vacation time; I don’t go far anyway. I don’t need maternity leave; it’s unpleasant to be unpaid or return to work early, but I can suffer through.
The line in the sand for me is the loss of ability to defer taxes in a way to save for retirement. If the proposed changes happen, myself and other doctors like me will be re-evaluating the number of hours we work to make sure it’s worth working this hard. There will be no business sense in providing evening, weekend, or extra hours. Doctors across the country will be sitting down with accountants to calculate exactly how many hours we can work to remain in a tax bracket that allows us to save for retirement.
Doctors will cut back on clinic hours. This will trickle down and impact our employees, as well as our patients. There will less work for administrative assistants, office nurses, and accountants. There will be less access to physicians out of an emergency setting.
If this happens, ER visits will increase. This will increase wait time and costs to the health care system. Hospitals will be spending more on staffing nurses and cleaners; technicians and phlebotomists that are on call will be getting called back for more overtime (costly to the system and disruptive to families). For an already delicately balanced and overstretched ER system, these changes could spell disaster.
Please know, this isn’t simply about my paycheque or my future. It’s about a frail health care system that is going to be damaged beyond repair. If these tax changes go through, the question will not be IF physicians will be leaving the health care system, it will be how many and how quickly.