The only conclusion I can come to is that some people say, "Isn't it great to be an American rather than a Canadian" and poor-mouth this country for everything we have tried to do. It may be true that some of our taxes in this country are higher, but it is also true that we have things in this country of which we should be thoroughly proud. To a greater extent than the United States we have brought in programs which have benefited many of the small people of this country.
I sometimes wonder for whom the great Progressive Conservative party speaks. Is it only for the rich? Are there no poor people who vote Conservative? The argument they are making is really an argument against progressive income tax. Let me show by example the kind of virtues they hold up in the United States and encourage us to adopt.
In showing us how much better things are in the United States than in Canada, the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre used a table-and I think it is fairly accurate-which illustrated that at the $8,000 income level in the United States they pay 17.3 per cent less taxes than Canadians; at the next level it is 19.1 per cent less taxes; at the next level, 22.9 per cent less; at $15,000 income in the United States compared to Canada it is 27.3 per cent less taxes, and at the $25,000 income level it is 36.3 per cent less taxes than in Canada. That is what he is holding up as an example.
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How else do we read this except as an attack on progressive income tax? Using those figures it is obvious that in the United States the income tax system is better than it is in Canada because in Canada it is too progressive. Mr. Speaker, we are far from having the most progressive income tax system in the world, but it is better than in the United States. The hon. member for Don Valley (Mr. Gillies) says that is not so. He is a learned economist and a scholar, but I do not see what other conclusion can be drawn from this than the conclusion that it is a good thing for the rich to pay less taxes. 1 think it is a good thing for everybody to pay less taxes, but let us be honest in this debate. The extent to which the rich pay less taxes is the extent to which the poor have to pay more. There is no such thing as tax avoidance. If some people avoid or do not pay taxes, they have to be made up by somebody else, and that somebody else is at the lower end of the income scale. Otherwise, services must be cut out.
I know the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre went to some pains-not great pains but some pains, because I think it occupied less than two minutes of his presentation-to say that if the Progressive Conservatives were in power they would have a way of reducing government expenditures, in other words, a way of reducing taxes without hurting anyone. They would do it by attrition and would not cut out essential services. Mr. Speaker, if you look at any budget, provincial or municipal, there is always some fat that can be cut out. An efficient government could do that. Let us be honest, however. Most of the expenditures are in transfer payments; the overwhelming bulk of expenditures at every level of government is the transfer of income from one group of people to another. No matter how efficient you make the administration, no matter how much attrition you have in the staff of that administration, the amount of savings is negligible in comparison to the profits. This does not mean you do not have to do everything you can, but doing everything you can at the administration level is not really going to result in a substantial decrease in taxes.
There is only one way in which taxes can be reduced and that is one thing the Progressive Conservative party does not want to admit, that is, to cut services. If you cut out services you are cutting out the poor.
The Conservative party is showing itself to be the champion of the rich without really caring what happens to those who are not rich. The examples they put forward in this House benefit the rich, not the ordinary citizens, and particularly not poor citizens.
Let us talk now about the brain drain. What brain drain, Mr. Speaker? The brain drain from Canada to the United States? Is there any evidence to support the argument that the brains of Canada are dissolving into the United States? I think there is some considerable evidence that a lot of Americans are coming to Canada because they find it a very attractive place in which to live. I have heard more Americans say they like the way we do things in this country than I have heard Canadians say they like the way things are done in the United States. So what is this brain drain? If the hon. member for
Winnipeg South Centre wanted to call it a venality drain or a cupidity drain I would go along with him. We have that kind of drain.
Let us take one example, Mr. Speaker. Recently there has been a series of newspaper articles about doctors moving to the United States. Why is this? Are doctors in Canada so poor, so underpaid? Is life in Canada so miserable that they have to move to the United States? Are doctors at the lowest end of the economic ladder here? Surely no one would say that is the case. It may be true that doctors make more money in the United States, and probably is, but there are other advantages that they do not take into account. In the United States it costs a lot more money for a doctor to receive medical training. It costs him more to practice, because of their system.
Why should a doctor, who has been educated in this country at public expense, costing us close to $100,000, say, "I can make more money south of the border?" It is not as though he needs it for survival. Doctors may not be at the top of the income ladder, but they are close. They work hard and deserve it, and I am not critical of them. However, if we are going to match the incomes of the United States for our doctors, is the Conservative party then prepared to say that medical costs in Canada should rise? After all, the chief cost of medical care is doctors' salaries and the things that surround doctors' incomes.
Hospital services and medical services cost much less in Canada and are of equal quality to those of the United States. Part of the reason for this is that our doctors are not paid as much, part of the reason is that our hospital services are more efficient, and a great part of the reason is that we have a national health system.
What does a national health system mean? Is the Conservative party saying that we should abandon our national health system and that people should pay privately? If they are not saying that, then they are saying we should raise taxes in order to pay for those high incomes that doctors in the United States are earning, and if we want to keep doctors in Canada we will have to pay. They are not talking about cutting services because the bulk of services is paid through the national health scheme-hospital insurance programs and medicare services. Are they saying they are going to raise taxes? That is the implication they are leaving with us. They do not want to say that, but it is the obvious conclusion.
Those doctors who are so ungrateful to this country and who have forgotten how much it costs Canada to provide them with an education and an opportunity, and who want to go to the United States because they can make a few more bucks-the Americans are welcome to them. I do not want them. That is all they care about. It is not a brain drain, it is a venality drain. If their system of values is oriented only to how much money they can make-most doctors are not like that, at least the doctors I know are not-but those few who are, if that is all that life means to them, to shop around to see which country will give them a few bucks more, that country is welcome to them. I have no regrets at losing them beyond
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saying that we should make these doctors pay back what it cost us for their education-
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: BUSINESS OF SUPPLY