As I talk to my constituents and other Canadians across the country, I keep hearing the same three concerns...
- that our basic social programs - health care, education and income support in times of trouble are at risk
- that the standard of living and the quality of life of our children will not be as good as our own
- that taxes have become too much of a burden and that people no longer trust the tax system.
How can we do something about these concerns? How can we protect our social programs? How can we safeguard our children's future? How can we relieve the tax burden and improve fairness and accountability
I believe that the key to these problems is to tackle them together because they are all interrelated. If the tax system is not working competitively, investors will not put their money into Canadian companies, the economy will stagnate and our social programs will be at risk. If our tax system is unfair, people will have more incentive to operate in the underground economy, we will lose tax revenues and our social programs will be at risk.
If our tax system is too complex, our small and medium sized businesses will spend too much time on paperwork and too much money on compliance, their ability to create jobs will be reduced, and our social programs will be stretched beyond their limits. These are just a few of the ways a bad tax system erodes economic growth and our ability to maintain a social safety net for those in need.
In response to all these concerns, I have been working with a team of people for several years, re-thinking the tax system in order to produce a viable proposal for tax reform; reform that would address the many criticisms of the current system voiced by people all over the country.
The result is the Single Tax System.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those Canadians who have contributed to the work of the Single Tax Team. Most notably: Sean Aylward of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt; Don Beach, a member of the Board of Governors and the Executive Committee of the Canadian institute of Chartered Accountants; Patricia Latham of Sims Latham Associates; Finn Poschmann of the Library of Parliament Research Branch (Economics Division); Michael Raggett of Sims Latham Associates; and Rob Roberts of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt. I would also like to thank Mark Cameron, who is now working in the office of the Minister of Revenue, and Don Huggett, the Editor of Canadian Tax News, who gave the Single Tax System its first critique in the "trade press".
A special thanks is also due to all those Canadians who took the time to write and encourage our efforts and to provide suggestions for improvement. We have kept faith with them all and, as they insisted, we have kept the debate alive. We now feel confident enough to approach the Department of Finance with our proposals for reform. Whatever happens, we will continue the work we started five years ago. We will continue to press for reform. We owe it to all those many Canadians who have given us their support.
We believe that now is a crucial time for Canada. Government is in the process of a radical review of all its expenditures in order to see how it can provide better services, and deliver them more cost effectively. To be effective this will also require a look at the revenue side of the books - the tax system - and a serious consideration of the Single Tax System as the way to a better future.
Tax reform is also still on the agenda in other developed countries, including our main trading partner, the United States. We can't afford to stand still: our unemployed workers, our small businesses, our entrepreneurs, and especially our children and young people, have a right to expect positive action.
Maintaining an efficient social safety net requires maintaining an efficient tax system that can raise the required revenues without imposing a heavy burden on taxpayers.
Providing the right conditions for our children's future means providing a tax system in which everyone pays their fair share.
Creating an environment in which Canadian companies can prosper and create jobs for Canadians means creating a tax system that encourages economic activity in Canada.
These are the main goals of the Single Tax System.
Dennis Mills, M.P.