While tax fairness provides a way to ensure our universal health care system is well-funded, people using tax havens will be paying more if our tax system is made fairer.
Ottawa (14 Nov. 2019) ― Last month, wealthy individuals gathered at the Toronto Club to give money to help Brian Day with his court challenge to rules intended to protect Medicare. If these rules are removed, it would become possible for the wealthy to buy their way to the front of the line for medical treatment. Two of the individuals who helped organize the event have been linked to tax havens.
That wealthy individuals with links to tax havens want to undermine universal health care isn’t a surprise. It’s the wealthy who will benefit from a health care system where people can buy their way to the front of the line. And, while tax fairness provides a way to ensure our universal health care system is well-funded, people using tax havens will be paying more if our tax system is made fairer.
Named in Paradise Papers
One of the individuals organizing the fundraiser was Anthony Fell, who was named in the Paradise Papers. The Paradise Papers were leaked files from companies that help wealthy individuals use tax havens. Among those found to be using tax havens were members of Donald Trump’s cabinet and a fundraiser for the Liberals with close ties to Justin Trudeau.
Anthony Fell appeared in the Paradise Papers as a director of RBC Capital Markets (Japan) Ltd, a company registered in Barbados. RBC, formerly the Royal Bank, is based in Canada. According to the RBC website, RBC Capital Markets (Japan) Ltd is “a member of Japan Securities Dealers Association.” Yet RBC Capital Markets (Japan) Ltd is registered in Barbados, which is a tax haven.
12 subsidiaries in tax havens
Another person involved in the fundraiser was Prem Watsa, the CEO of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. Prem Watsa served as co-chair of the event. According to Canadians for Tax Fairness, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd have 12 subsidiaries in tax havens.
Medicare affordable – with a fair tax system
When interviewed about the fundraiser Anthony Fell trotted out the usual claim of those pushing for two-tier health care: governments can’t afford to properly fund the health care system. That isn’t true. But what is true is that it will be a lot easier for governments to properly fund health care if large corporations and the wealthy pay their share.
Getting large corporations and the wealthy to pay their share means measures like cracking down on tax havens where wealthy Canadians are hiding an estimated $240.5 billion and large Canadian corporations have over $350 billion.
Questions about role played by delays in auditing clinics
There are also questions about how delays in auditing Brian Day’s clinics may have played a role in his ability to challenge rules intended to protect Medicare.
An audit of records from only 3 months at Brian Day’s clinics – the Cambie Surgery Centre and the Specialist Referral Clinic – found $491,654 in illegal billings and $66,734 in overlapping claims. When an audit is able to uncover that level of illegal billing and overlapping claims in 3 months one can only imagine what would have been uncovered if the audit had covered a longer period.
It took years of pressure before the BC Liberal government finally agreed to the audit and in fact the premier at the time, Gordon Campbell, was one of those in attendance at the fundraiser last month. Even after violations were uncovered, the government did not take action to stop the illegal activities of these clinics. This has left many wondering whether profits from illegal billing and overlapping claims made it easier to pay for the legal challenge to Medicare and gave those behind the challenge a strong financial incentive for mounting it.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE