Want to know why a union cares about tax fairness? Here's why

By Mike Parker,
HSAA President

What does fair taxation have to do with a union representing health-care professionals?

That was one of the questions we heard on social media after HSAA shared a petition in support of proposed federal tax changes that would close some tax loopholes for the wealthiest Canadians.

I’d like to thank all those who signed the petition – and all those who commented on the post. Feedback is good. Discussion and debate is good. Having our members engaged enough to talk about the important issues of the day is exactly what we want at HSAA.

When it comes to important issues for a union of health-care professionals, fair taxation is just about as important and relevant to members as it gets.

Health care in Canada is a public service. It is funded by citizens through taxation.

Let me spell out for you what that means: Our jobs in health care are entirely dependent on revenue from taxation, both federally and provincially. If we want to continue working in a world-class health-care system, we need a fair taxation system that raises enough revenue to provide funding for hospitals, for ambulances, for CT scanners, for MRIs, for X-ray machines, for lab workers, for therapists, for counsellors, for social workers – for each of the professionals working in the more than 240 disciplines that this union represents.

We need fair taxation for our jobs to exist.

We also need fair taxation to ensure that all of us are protected at work. Health care can be a dangerous career. From paramedics responding to disasters, to hospital staff dealing with radioactivity or toxic substances, to therapists working with heavy and immobile patients, we face the risk of injury every day. Making our workplaces safe isn’t easy or cheap. We need to ensure there’s enough money in health care to ensure we don’t get hurt and become patients instead of caregivers.

Meanwhile, our members constantly tell us that they deserve a fair wage for their skilled labour. We work long hours and tough shifts. We’re highly skilled – we’re trusted health-care experts. If we want to be paid fairly, we need fair taxation to provide revenue for health care.

Fair taxation, however, is more than just about what’s good for our members. It’s about creating a better society, one in which everyone pays their fair share of taxation, rather than placing the burden of paying for vital services on the middle class.

Our tax systems, both federally and provincially are broken and that has had a devastating effect on our communities. Decades of often unnecessary tax cuts and loopholes for the wealthy and corporations have starved our hospitals and schools, they’ve left our roads, bridges and buildings crumbling.

As a union, HSAA believes in fairness. As health-care professionals we believe in protecting our world-class health care system from continuing attacks.

When we back campaigns like this petition, we don’t do it lightly. We’re a democratic organization. The decisions and directions we take are considered by our elected officers, our elected board and by our committees made up of members. We encourage all members to get involved in this process, to have their voices heard. This will make us even stronger.