A. Stewart, MD: “Canadian Doctors Like Me Are Starting To Look For The Exit”
Canadian Doctors Like Me Are Starting To Look For The Exit
Canada, and especially Ontario, has become an increasingly unattractive place to practice as a doctor.
By Adam Stewart MD, CCFP
What if you or your loved one desperately needed to see a doctor, but there were none left; or, just as hopeless, the wait list was well over a year long? What if there are not enough doctors to work at all the emergency departments across the country? I do not expect people to feel sorry for the financial matters of doctors. From the public’s perspective, all doctors are relatively rich. As one prominent health journalist once unsympathetically wrote, perhaps doctors “should put a little water in their fine wine.” I do not expect that the public realize and appreciate that doctors have gone through 10 to 15 years of advanced education and training after high school; that most graduate in their 30s and it is not until then that they can start to pay down their hundreds of thousands of dollars of accumulated debt; that they have no benefits, no paid vacations, no sick leave, no maternity leave; that they have no pensions and have to personally fund their retirements; that doctors operate as small businesses and contribute to the economy by hiring employees, paying taxes, paying rent and paying overhead costs; and that, perhaps most importantly, doctors make immeasurable self-sacrifices for the sake of their patients. For over three years, Ontario’s doctors have been hit with multiple unilaterally imposed cuts to funding, not to mention being repeatedly villainized by the provincial government. More recently, the federal government has proposed tax changes to corporations that will dramatically impact Canada’s doctors. Some estimates propose doctors will be subject to an effective tax rate as high as 73 per cent, or even 93 per cent.