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OPINION: ER physicians oppose tax changes

Queen Elizabeth Hospital medical director Dr. Rosemary Henderson is pictured outside the building’s emergency department in this August 2013 Guardian file photo. 

(Ryan Ross / Guardian File Photo)
Queen Elizabeth Hospital medical director Dr. Rosemary Henderson is pictured outside the building’s emergency department in this August 2013 Guardian file photo. (Ryan Ross / Guardian File Photo)

Medical Society poll indicates 31 per cent of doctors considering leaving P.E.I. if tax plan implemented

BY DR. JOHN SAMPSON

GUEST OPINION

The recent federal Liberal’s proposed tax changes for small business have created much uncertainty, debate and anxiety for Canadian small businesses, including doctors. We, the Emergency Room physicians of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, are concerned about the impact these proposed changes will have on patient care in the Emergency Department of our hospital as well as all ER departments in the province.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, we faced critical physician shortages in our department, which made patient care difficult and sub-optimal. Many ER’s faced multiple temporary closures due to physician shortages. Over the past two decades our department has been fortunate to recruit talented physicians to serve the emergency needs of Islanders.

This has resulted in an increased volume of patients being treated in the ER with shorter wait times and better care.

We are very concerned that the implementation of the Liberal’s small business tax plan will undo all of this. It will make it much more difficult to continue to attract new physicians to P.E.I. and

retain present physicians. In a recent P.E.I. Medical Society poll, 31 per cent of doctors are considering leaving P.E.I. if the onerous tax plan is implemented. Some in our department have already taken steps towards leaving.

Recent physician shortages in the Department of Psychiatry highlight how losing doctors quickly puts patients at risk. We see this negative impact every day. Many mental health patients stay

in the ER for days awaiting consultation or admission to hospital because of the Psychiatry shortage. This places patients and staff at risk as noted in recent Guardian articles.

It would not take the loss of many physicians to place the ER in the same turmoil as Psychiatry or reverting to the ER crisis in the 1990s. To prevent this from happening, we unanimously urge the federal Liberals not to implement their current proposed tax plan.

- John Sampson, MD, on behalf of Emergency Room physicians at the Queen Elizabeth hospital

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