A group of leading community medicine and public health doctors have founded Doctors for Fair Taxation. They argue that physicians have become increasingly concerned about growing income inequality after seeing the consequences of poor and inequitable health daily in their practices. The response has been quick: over 200 doctors have already signed their petition calling for higher taxes for the highest ten percent of earners.
Given their credibility and professional standing, it is always powerful when doctors and other privileged professionals take a stand for equity. It is especially important in this era of austerity and its focus on cuts to look at both sides of public finance: how fairer taxation can be part of the balance needed to preserve necessary investments in healthy communities.
But why just medical doctors? Academic and research PhDs should support this call as well.
On a side note, it is particularly interesting that doctors are entering this debate about equitable taxation at the same time as the provincial government and the Ontario Medical Association are negotiating payment schedules for physicians. It’s especially important that this negotiation be driven by fundamental principles of enhancing quality, innovation and equity. We have seen the unfortunate consequences when such principles are not foregrounded and reform is instead driven by physician interests and views: for example, the payments surrounding Family Health Teams that came out of earlier negotiations provided incentives to serve the healthy and well-off, rather than those poorer patients with complex needs who need comprehensive primary care the most.