T Nation

Taxes and Healthcare in Canada.

Always wanted to know about personal taxes in Canada. What are they in?
Also, how do you folks like your health care? Is it true that it is not completly free and in some cases people need to pay for it?
It would be great if Canadians can give us an insight.

Thanks,
-Yustas

[quote]yustas wrote:
Always wanted to know about personal taxes in Canada. What are they in?
Also, how do you folks like your health care? Is it true that it is not completly free and in some cases people need to pay for it?
It would be great if Canadians can give us an insight.

Thanks,
-Yustas[/quote]

Depends on how you like security.

As for taxes, last time I heard of it, and it dates back 3-4 years maybe, whereas an American gets taxed 38% at around 235K$ income, you can get taxed around 52% before hitting 50K$ income.

As for healthcare, it is easy to take it for granted and free as long as one doesnt start paying taxes. My dad recently had a minor bypass surgery and, following complications, had to have brain surgery to remove a clot. We would be in the streets if we were in the USA. One could say I owe the system one. My taxes will make sure I pay it back, dont worry about it. ;0)

Best advice is to come here for extended vacations, get a feel of the place and its people, talk alot to tons of people, because each province is different, especially French speaking Quebec. You might like it.

[quote]DAN C wrote:
you can get taxed around 52% before hitting 50K$ income.

[/quote]

52% before hitting 50K? If true that is pretty tuff. I’ve seen the data suggesting only around 19% I guess that was not correct.

-Yustas

[quote]yustas wrote:
Always wanted to know about personal taxes in Canada. What are they in?
Also, how do you folks like your health care? Is it true that it is not completly free and in some cases people need to pay for it?
It would be great if Canadians can give us an insight.

Thanks,
-Yustas[/quote]

Taxes are pretty high, especially here in Quebec. They are quite a bit lower in Alberta, for example. Overall I’d guess that most Canadian pay more taxes than you Americans do.

You’ve got income taxes, retail taxes (generally two, one federal and one provincial); gas has an extra tax, as do alcohol, cigarettes and even, in Quebec, tires (3$ per new tire, supposedly to pay for recycling.)

You can reduce your income taxes somewhat by contributing to a “RRSP”, somewhat equivalent to the US 401k, if I’m not mistaken. Money you put in your RRSP is deducted from your gross salary for bracket determination.

As for health care, pretty much everything is free. The only exceptions I know of are for cosmetic surgery and for some “experimental” or extremely new treatments that haven’t been approved (yet).

The concept is nice, but the execution sucks. These last 10-15 years, the costs have skyrocketed. With the aging population; expensive drugs and people living longer and longer I’m not sure we can afford the system much longer. A recent figure quoted 43% of our total yearly budget allocated to health care costs. Also, waiting lists have become quite ridiculous (many months of waiting in some cases, even for fairly serious ills like cancer and heart disease); although the situation has improved somewhat in the last few years.

There is a growing movement afoot to have a parallel “private” health care that might alleviate some of the current problems. Of course, many don’t want of this “two-speed” system; although it works well enough for our schools. I feel it is pretty much inevitable; private clinics have even started to appear in the last year (at least here in Montreal, don’t know about the rest of Canada…). While technically “illegal”, there has been no move from the government to have them closed down.

If you go to these clinics, then it is true that it’s not completely free; you’ll pay for treatments or diagnostics that you receive at the clinic. Having a choice is nice though; since we previously had the ridiculous situation of being able to pay to have our dog examined by a vetenarian within hours or days, or our cars repaired in a timely manner; but had to wait for months for some potentially life-saving treatment even if we could afford to pay for it.

Many of the richer folks would simply drive down to Vermont where there’s a florishing private medecine business. Many clinics over there have Quebec doctors who got fed up with the system and simply left.

The other major thing that our taxes buy us is free education. School is nearly free (you’ve got to buy your own books and pencils) up to collegiate level. This varies from province to province; with some having higher admission fees at some level. Private schools are also available, and part of the fee they charge is used to finance the public school system.

[quote]yustas wrote:
52% before hitting 50K? If true that is pretty tuff. I’ve seen the data suggesting only around 19% I guess that was not correct.

-Yustas

[/quote]

Believe me, you want the government in charge of doing as little as possible. If not for the sole reason that they seem to insist on being as inefficient as possible in whichever projects they decide to undertake (ie. gun registration, growing of medical marijuana, stealing your money to finance their election campaign…yes, they even screw that up).

[quote]yustas wrote:
DAN C wrote:
you can get taxed around 52% before hitting 50K$ income.

52% before hitting 50K? If true that is pretty tuff. I’ve seen the data suggesting only around 19% I guess that was not correct.
-Yustas[/quote]

Here is a good link: http://www.taxtips.ca/tax_rates.htm#CombinedTaxRates

Tax rates seem to have lowered since the last time I checked. At 56 070$ and up, you pay 42.37% combined taxes. Add 15.025% in Quebec for PST and GST on almost everything, and youre at 57.395%. Of course, there are credits, RRSPs, and similar things, but if your are socially-left-wing inclined, youll love Quebec. It`s a mini-France on many levels, union and socialist tendencies included.

Like I said, shop around. Alberta seems the most tax friendly place. I think BC should also be, if not already, provincial debt free.

Another more general link: http://www.canada.com/finance/taxes/2005/story.html?id=c6f5dcc7-271a-4f35-8cff-046a17839cc7

[quote]DAN C wrote:
yustas wrote:
DAN C wrote:
you can get taxed around 52% before hitting 50K$ income.

52% before hitting 50K? If true that is pretty tuff. I’ve seen the data suggesting only around 19% I guess that was not correct.
-Yustas

Here is a good link: http://www.taxtips.ca/tax_rates.htm#CombinedTaxRates

Tax rates seem to have lowered since the last time I checked. At 56 070$ and up, you pay 42.37% combined taxes. Add 15.025% in Quebec for PST and GST on almost everything, and youre at 57.395%. Of course, there are credits, RRSPs, and similar things, but if your are socially-left-wing inclined, youll love Quebec. It`s a mini-France on many levels, union and socialist tendencies included.

Like I said, shop around. Alberta seems the most tax friendly place. I think BC should also be, if not already, provincial debt free.

Another more general link: http://www.canada.com/finance/taxes/2005/story.html?id=c6f5dcc7-271a-4f35-8cff-046a17839cc7

[/quote]

You just confirmed in my mind that I will never move to Canada.

[quote]DAN C wrote:
I think BC should also be, if not already, provincial debt free.
[/quote]

Nope, not even close. We made a payment this year, but that is it. (Not to detract from the accomplishment, we have an amazing provincial government that I campaigned long and hard for).

As for our health care, it is terrible. The mentality behind our healthcare is that it would be better for all Canadians to suffer and die than for one Canadian to see a doctor sooner, or visit a nicer clinic than another Canadian.

Look at Critical Illness insurance. Here is a whole industry in Canada built on the notion that “if something were to happen, how would you be able to afford medical treatment in the US?” That is why people buy these policies. These are the same people who yell and scream about “two-tiered health care”.

Probably the worst thing about our health care is the way you get treated like a low life slug every time you use it. You cannot make the decision for yourself or for your kids weather or not you would like to see a doctor and then do so. You are seen by the health care workers as a drain on the system and another reason why they are overworked. No doctor has any need or desire to impress you with good service. Do you know why? Because there would be no profit to them. They are going to have the same number of patients no matter what they do - and that number is more than they want. Doctors and nurses don’t even think they are working for you, they think you should be kissing their feet because you are fortunate enough to be in their presence. They are right. One million people in Ontario do not have a doctor. That is a big number when you consider there are only 12 million people in Ontario.

When I moved to a new city last year, I had to call the special phone number to get the recording to find out which doctor I could see. Do you know what the recording said? “There are currently no doctors accepting new patients in the city”. Do you know how frustrating that is? You cannot do anything but go on the list and wait.

Doctors don’t want to stay in Canada. We lose many of our doctors to the US, not just because of the possibility of better pay, but because doctors like to be able to practice medicine with proper equipment and resources. Can you blame them for leaving? When you walk into a typical Canadian hospital or clinic, you get the feeling that you somehow took a wrong turn and ended up in communist Russia.

I think there was a thread about health insurance a few days ago discussing the idea that US health care can only be improved by allowing more of a free market approach. From what I can tell, you guys have already moved dangerously close towards the path of socialized medicine. All I can say is, don’t do it.

And don’t even get me started about our taxes.

Very interesting. Thank you guys and gals for the info.
What about social benefits?
What about senior citizens? Are they taken care off well by the government?

-Yustas

It is interesting to read Canadian’s point of views on socialized medicine. That was a big issue this last election, and something I have always opposed. Especially around college campuses, there is a loud “everyone needs to be equal, it is not fair that some people get better health care than others” mentality. Next time I talk to someone who says we need to have socialized medicine, I will show them this thread.

Jeff

The Canadian health care system is far from perfect, but I sure wouldn’t trade it for an American style private system. In the last 6 years or so I’ve had 2 grandparents and a Mother in law diagnosed with late stage cancers - Grandparents were both in advanced metastatic stages and the Mother in law had Gleoblastoma - and all three of them were in surgery within 2 weeks with top notch care and not a penny out of pocket.

If you are going to compare the two systems, you have to also look at the cost of medical insurance in the US - both what you pay yourself and what your employers pay on your behalf. I can’t imagine that it would be less than the personal and corporate taxes which go toward our health care system.

Just my $0.02(CAD)

[quote]Jeff Parsons wrote:
It is interesting to read Canadian’s point of views on socialized medicine.

Jeff[/quote]

Indeed very interesting.
I’m curios if there are other points of view. Are there any Canadians that think Canadian socialized medicine is pretty good?

-Yustas

This is a very complicated subject, but it’s not as simple as saying that the Canadian system is inefficient because it is run by the government.

Canada spends 10% of its GDP on health care, whereas the USA spends 15%. Yet Canada has better health overall- longer life expectancy, lower infant morality etc. The American free market approach is not necessarily more efficient.

[quote]Slaughter wrote:
If you are going to compare the two systems, you have to also look at the cost of medical insurance in the US - both what you pay yourself and what your employers pay on your behalf. I can’t imagine that it would be less than the personal and corporate taxes which go toward our health care system.

Just my $0.02(CAD)[/quote]

I was just thinking about the same thing and wanted to ask if someone seen such a comparison published.

-Yustas

Some really good points have already been raised regarding health care in Canada. I would sum it up as, it works very well for minor, common issues that you would see your doctor for and have treated in an office visit. For specialized care, it’s getting worse and worse. It can take many months to get in to see a specialist and people are dying due to the late start on treatments for many serious illnesses. We do still have excellent doctors, but their is some complacency as there is little incentive to perform well.

As was mentioned, many of our better doctors do leave for the U.S to make big $$ in the private systme there. My cousin who is one of the top oncologists in the world left for Tulsa years ago and loves the fact that when he diagnoses a patient with cancer, he can often begin treatment the same day. That just does’nt happen here. Personally, I favour a two tier system, where my basic health care is covered by my taxes, but I’m free to purchase additional health care for faster and better care when shit gets bad.

As far as taxes go, according to latest stats, a person earning $75,000 will pay roughly 49% of his earnings in taxes. This icludes income tax, gas taxes, goods and services and any other hidden taxes.

While I love to complain about our system, the U.N has rated Canada the top country in the world for standard of living many times over the last decade. I don’t think it ever falls out of the top 3, so all in all life is pretty peachy here.

[quote]Magnus157 wrote:

As far as taxes go, according to latest stats, a person earning $75,000 will pay roughly 49% of his earnings in taxes. This icludes income tax, gas taxes, goods and services and any other hidden taxes.

[/quote]

What would be the percentage of an income tax alone? In US we pay taxes for goods and services as well.

Thanks!

As much as people complain about getting in to see a doctor, we are still able to walk into the local “emergency room” at the hospital and get looked at.

You may have to wait around for a few hours, but generally the more serious your condition the more people you will bump off the list in order to be seen right away.

Heck, when I came back to Canada after working in the USA, I no longer had a family doctor, I came down with strepthroat and pneumonia and walked into the emergency room dehyrated and puked at the reception desk when ask if I had been throwing up.

Half an hour later I was being examined and the next day or so lab results were called in to let me know what I needed to get from the pharmacist. Up until I was buying the medications, I didn’t pay a single dime.

Now, if you come up with some type of terminal illness things are very much different. These issues aren’t handled in the same way. There are indeed long waiting times to get referred to specialists and so on.

There are pluses and minuses to the system. It is far too complex an issue to read a few opinions on and make an informed decision about. There are aspects of public health care which are fantastic.

However, with an aging population, spiralling health care costs and a lack of medical practicioners, we also have serious issues to contend with.

The fact that some people are concerned about the possibility of the poor being denied services under private care schemes is not necessarily a bad thing either, though it means coming up with a good solution is made much more complicated.

This is one of those things that isn’t easy to solve. There are problems with the free market system and there are problems with the public system. People suffer under both systems and there is no perfect way to allocate resources.

Personally, one of the things I would really like to see is a minor cost when accessing emergency rooms. They could take your social insurance number (equivalent to a social security number) and then cancel a deduction on your subsequent tax filing. This way poor people still aren’t penalized, but they could be given a paper billing statement and psychologically not think of the service as “free”.

Perfect? No. An improvement because it attacks the economic problem of overuse due to the perception of a lack of cost (other than waiting times)? Yes. Fair with respect to ability to pay? Yes. However, such a minor item would not look like a big enough deal, so we’ll continue to swamp our emergency rooms with useless visits because we can.

[quote]vroom wrote:
However, such a minor item would not look like a big enough deal, so we’ll continue to swamp our emergency rooms with useless visits because we can.[/quote]

Actually, SaskHealth has a pretty good solution to this. We now have a 24 hr Healthline that people can phone instead of going in to see a doctor over every minor little thing. If you or a family member is having a health problem, but you’re not sure if it is serious enough to go to a doctor you can phone up and talk to a registered nurse who will give you medical advice. I understand that this service has really helped shorten waiting time at the emergency room. Do other provinces have the same service?

[quote]SKman wrote:
Actually, SaskHealth has a pretty good solution to this. We now have a 24 hr Healthline that people can phone instead of going in to see a doctor over every minor little thing. If you or a family member is having a health problem, but you’re not sure if it is serious enough to go to a doctor you can phone up and talk to a registered nurse who will give you medical advice. I understand that this service has really helped shorten waiting time at the emergency room. Do other provinces have the same service?[/quote]

In Quebec, we’ve got Info-Sante (sic) which is similar. It’s not well-known (we learned of it from the hospital when we had our first kid) and does not seem to do much to alleviate the overcrowding of emergency waiting rooms.

(It’s Info-Sant? with an acute accent over the E… would it kill your developers to allow diacritics on the forum? Just once, I’d like to see “d?j? vu” or “r?sum?” spelled correctly…)

[quote]SKman wrote:
Actually, SaskHealth has a pretty good solution to this. We now have a 24 hr Healthline that people can phone instead of going in to see a doctor over every minor little thing. If you or a family member is having a health problem, but you’re not sure if it is serious enough to go to a doctor you can phone up and talk to a registered nurse who will give you medical advice. I understand that this service has really helped shorten waiting time at the emergency room. Do other provinces have the same service?[/quote]

Yes, we have that here too. My sister-in-law is an ER nurse and all the other nurses I’ve talked to say the same thing, it’s a waste of money. The nurses that answer those lines tell Virtually everyone to go to the emergency room. You can see why. Just one mess up would be one too many.

I think ER user fees would be a step in the right direction Vroom.