Legault’s new tax fol­lows a cle­ar trend: The govern­ment answer to any pro­blem is to ham­mer Cana­dians with higher taxes

By Fran­co Terrazzano
and Kris Sims
Cana­dian Taxpay­ers Federation

As we head into the third year of revo­lving govern­ment lock­downs, Cana­dians have eve­ry right to be furio­us. But we shouldn’t let poli­ti­cians divi­de us. And we shouldn’t be duped into belie­ving that we are going to tax our way out of a pandemic.

“We’re looking for a health con­tri­bu­tion for adults who refu­se to be vac­ci­na­ted for non-medi­cal reasons,” anno­un­ced Quebec Pre­mier Fra­nço­is Legault.


Legault’s “health con­tri­bu­tion” is just ano­ther tax added to the heavy bur­den of inco­me, busi­ness, sales, pro­per­ty, pay­roll, import, fuel and car­bon taxes that Cana­dians are alre­ady for­ced to pay. In 2020, the ave­ra­ge fami­ly spent more on taxes than on basic needs such as food, shel­ter and clo­thing com­bi­ned. More taxes won’t make COVID-19 go away.

Par­ti­cu­lar­ly if you’re vac­ci­na­ted, you sho­uld fight aga­inst poli­ti­cians that want to open up this Pandora’s box. Today, poli­ti­cians will say the unvac­ci­na­ted sho­uld pay. What abo­ut tomorrow?

Will you need to pay a tax eve­ry time you put but­ter on your popcorn? If you gain weight after Chri­st­mas, will you have to wri­te a che­que? When your kid falls off the­ir bike try­ing a new jump, will a tax bill come with the­ir stitches?

People do lots of things that land them in the hospi­tal. It’s past time to discuss pri­va­te health-care options and let­ting people spend the­ir own dol­lars on the­ir own health. But heaping more taxes onto over­ta­xed Cana­dians won’t solve the pan­de­mic problem.

Legault’s new tax fol­lows a cle­ar trend: The govern­ment answer to any pro­blem is to ham­mer Cana­dians with higher taxes.

Poli­ti­cians want us to dri­ve fewer trucks, so they slap us with a car­bon tax. And when car­bon taxes don’t redu­ce emis­sions, they ham­mer us with higher car­bon taxes.

Bure­au­crats think home pri­ces are too high, so they fund a report cal­ling for a new tax on homeowners.

Inste­ad of divi­ding Cana­dians and tar­ge­ting cer­ta­in taxpay­ers, it’s time to hold our poli­ti­cians and bure­au­crats acco­un­ta­ble for the health-care mess.

Befo­re COVID-19, Cana­dians were pay­ing more than most of our indu­stria­li­zed peers for health care, accor­ding to the Fra­ser Insti­tu­te. But Cana­da ran­ked second worst on the num­ber of acu­te care beds per capi­ta and third wor­se on the num­ber of doctors per capita.

“The ave­ra­ge occu­pan­cy rate of the province’s acu­te care beds was 96 per cent in 2018–19, inc­lu­ding appro­xi­ma­te­ly 28 hospi­tals whe­re the ave­ra­ge occu­pan­cy rate for the year was over 100 per cent,” accor­ding to the Finan­cial Acco­un­ta­bi­li­ty Offi­ce of Ontario.

Bri­tish Colum­bia hospi­tals were also abo­ve capa­ci­ty befo­re COVID-19.

That’s why poli­ti­cians were wor­ried abo­ut the govern­ment sys­tem in the ear­ly days of the pan­de­mic. Alber­ta Pre­mier Jason Ken­ney said if the­re were no lock­downs, “our health sys­tem would col­lap­se under the chaos.”

Two years later, the fede­ral debt has bal­lo­oned past $1 tril­lion after spen­ding more than $500 bil­lion respon­ding to COVID-19. The pro­vin­ces have spent abo­ut $400 bil­lion on health care sin­ce the begin­ning of 2020, accor­ding to the­ir budgets.

Despi­te two years and all that money, Ontario’s top health-care bure­au­crat is still defen­ding lock­downs as “neces­sa­ry” to “pro­tect our health sys­tem capacity.”

This leaves us with two questions.

First, how many hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars do taxpay­ers need to fork over befo­re the govern­ment health-care sys­tem isn’t on the brink of collapse?

Second, shouldn’t the poli­ti­cians and bure­au­crats that have con­ti­nu­ed to col­lect the­ir six-figu­re taxpay­er-fun­ded pay­che­qu­es be held acco­un­ta­ble for not coming up with bet­ter solu­tions to pro­tect health-care capacity?

Inste­ad of divi­ding Cana­dians and hit­ting us with new taxes, it’s time to hold the poli­ti­cians and bure­au­crats acco­un­ta­ble for the­ir mess.

Fran­co Ter­raz­za­no is the Fede­ral Direc­tor and Kris Sims is the B.C Direc­tor of the Cana­dian Taxpay­ers Federation.

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