Dr. Chantal Morel: Let’s talk #TaxFairness
As the only full-time adult clinical metabolic geneticist in Toronto, Dr. Chantal Morel follows more than 1,000 patients in the city who have rare genetic metabolic conditions, and provides ongoing consultations for various genetic conditions. While she predominantly practises out of University Health Network (UHN) and Mount Sinai Hospital (MSH) in downtown Toronto, Dr. Morel is also the Genetics Advisor for the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, covering a population of 142,000 individuals.
She’s also an incorporated professional. As a sole-income earner supporting four individuals, her corporation has allowed her to save for retirement and fund four months of maternity leave per child. But upon hearing the news of proposed federal tax changes for incorporated professionals, including physicians, Dr. Morel is being forced to consider other career options, which will leave more than 143,000 patients in limbo.
“If these proposals go through, it will no longer make sense to maintain my corporation, nor am I going to continue to practise and see the amount of patients I’m seeing,” she said. “If I’m going to be taxed at a higher rate, what’s the incentive for me to do two jobs?”
To start, Dr. Morel would consider cutting down two jobs to one, beginning with her North Bay clinic. “If I’m essentially going to be giving all that over to taxes, then I don’t see the point of continuing that job,” she said. “But it’s going to leave the northern region underserviced when it comes to genetics.”
Her second decision would be to cut back on her hours at UHN, or leave clinical medicine altogether, to pursue a position in pharmaceuticals that would provide her with health benefits and a pension. But this means giving up what she loves doing, after 16 years of training and $150,000 in student debt.
“This is a vocation for me, it’s not a job. This is something that I’ve devoted by life towards, and I really enjoy what I do,” she said. “But I have to think about my future; if I can’t incorporate to save for my retirement and fund my children’s post-secondary education, I cannot continue no matter how much I love my job.”
But Dr. Morel worries about the patient impact that her vacancy would leave, combined with a second vacancy at the UNH and MSH clinics for a fellow geneticist who is currently on maternity leave. “The impact on adults with metabolic conditions is going to be pretty significant,” she said. “These are patients who can decompensate and die when they’re not well.”
“I’m extremely worried about the consequences of me having to scale back. I’m a super specialized physician, and if I do cut back on my hours, the impact is going to be huge, especially for the northern community.”
Her passion for her career has been what’s kept her going, despite feeling like she’s being spread too thin. “I’m working hard, but the fact that I love my job, I love my patients and that I want to do what’s best for my patients has kept me going,” Dr. Morel said. “But with the proposed tax changes, I really have to reconsider my priorities.”
Dr. Morel reinforced that she cares significantly for her patients and the population that she follows, but ultimately now has to think about herself, which she’s finding difficult. “I have this altruistic view where I think about others first. And now these proposed tax changes are going to prompt me to consider what’s best for me, instead of what’s best for my patients,” she said. “And it breaks my heart that I have to make that decision.”