Dr. Rohit Kumar: Let’s talk #TaxFairness
When Dr. Rohit Kumar first heard news of the federally proposed tax changes, he felt another level of government was negatively hitting doctors. Dr. Kumar, an anesthesiologist who practises at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, didn’t realize how negative the proposed changes were at first.
But, after learning more about it, he truly began to realize the impact. He even wrote an open letter to all Canadian politicians addressing some of his concerns.
“At a very basic level, it’s just one more added stress in our environment, especially in Ontario,” he said. “Physicians are already feeling burnt out, and it negatively adds to their overall morale, which will no doubt impact patient care.”
For some practising physicians who have to pay for office space, support staff and equipment costs, Dr. Kumar says the proposals may impact their decision to hire more employees or keep their equipment and skills up to date. “These are little things that will add up to how patients will be indirectly impacted.”
Specifically in a hospital setting, the impact for physicians like Dr. Kumar is the added stress of knowing that he and his colleagues are worried about saving for their futures. Doctors do not have pensions and must save for their own retirement, sick days, vacation time, maternity or any other type of extended leave. “Everyone else working around me is having the same type of thoughts,” he said. “It’s an added frustration to think about, which distracts us from providing patient care or focusing completely on patients.”
The topic of leaving Canada to practise elsewhere is something that Dr. Kumar says is definitely coming up in conversation. But, now 10 years into practise, he says it’s not an option for him. But is still worrisome.
“I certainly think that people who are graduating and have a grasp of the implications of what’s coming down the road, may consider it,” he said. “When I was thinking of going to medical school, I was talking to physicians and they were saying ‘don’t do it, go into another field, times are tough, it’s not worth it.’”
Dr. Kumar thinks we’ve circled back to the same stage.
“Some graduating doctors will put weight on that when practicing doctors are saying the same thing to new grads. They may say they’re going to explore the United States,” he said. “When I was a medical student, there was a great majority of our class doing American exams at the same time, and I think that trend may come back.”
Albeit difficult during times of uncertainty, patient will remain his top priority. “Physicians go to work every day with one intent, and that is to make patients feel better,” Dr. Kumar said. “Remuneration is nothing when a sick patient is in front of you. We don’t think, ‘Am I going to get paid for this or not?’ That doesn’t determine whether we’re going to provide care or not. We provide care first. That is our job as physicians; it’s what we do and we take it seriously.”