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Federal Finance Committee echoes CMA’s vision for health care and tax fairness for physicians

OTTAWA—The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance has brought forward several key Canadian Medical Association (CMA) pre-budget recommendations, including the need to maintain current rules allowing physicians to incorporate their practices.

In its report, the Committee quoted the CMA specifically and recommended that: “The federal government not make any changes to the current federal taxation regime and other rules as they apply to small businesses, including professional businesses, incorporated as Canadian controlled private corporations.”

The Finance Committee report, which was presented before Finance Minister Bill Morneau on March 11 also included numerous other recommendations relevant to CMA’s advocacy priorities.

CMA president Dr. Cindy Forbes spent a busy week was on Parliament Hill in early March advocating for CMA’s vision of what should be in the March 22 federal budget.

Dr. Forbes met with a number of senators and MPs—all members of prominent health and social committees— to discuss the CMA’s pre-budget submission, focused primarily on addressing the needs of Canada’s aging population.

“The federal government is a key investor in Canada’s health care system and with that comes a great deal of responsibility,” says Forbes. “We cannot keep investing in more of the same; we need to be talking about spending smarter.”

The CMA put forward seven recommendations to help guide federal leadership in health care—all of which were highlighted in the finance committee’s report to the government following pre-budget consultations. If implemented, these recommendations will provide direct support to the provinces and will lay a foundation for a new Health Accord.

The core recommendations are focused on three key objectives:

  • Supporting the provinces and territories in meeting the care needs of an aging population;
  • Expanding capacity of the continuing care sector, including home care; and
  • Cutting prescription costs.

These proposed measures are designed to be implemented over the 2016-17 fiscal year. Dr. Forbes says immediate implementation is necessary given that current resources are stretched too thin.

“Canadians are waiting far too long for many treatments while hospitals are being forced to double as long-term care homes,” says Dr. Forbes. “Meanwhile, all too often family members are struggling to care for loved ones without the system supports they need.”

So far federal engagement in health care looks promising with indications that providing more support for infrastructure — things like nursing homes and long-term care facilities — will be a major focus of the budget. Federal Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott has also acknowledged the need to rethink how our system provides care, recognizing that our aging population requires more support to deal with complex and chronic health care issues.

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