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“not all canadians are paying their fair share”: A letter to Minister Freeland

This letter was sent to Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland on behalf a long-time supporter of the Council of Canadians, Allan Baker. It was prompted by our campaign for a tax on the ultra-rich.

Dear Minister Freeland,

The purpose of this letter is to urge you to implement an income tax system here in Canada, one that all Canadians can support as being fair and equitable. My concern, shared by some others, is that not all Canadians are paying their fair share.

I’m drafting this letter in a busy Tim Hortons near the corner of Ellesmere and Neilson Road in Scarborough, Ontario. Behind the counter I can see the staff are very busy, making use of every moment and movement of their bodies to serve customers as quickly as possible. Although I do not know their hourly wage, what I do know is that they will pay income tax on all of their earnings.

Meanwhile, J. Patrick Doyle, the CEO of Restaurant Brands International and the owner of Tim Hortons, had no salary in 2022. Yes, no salary. However, his compensation package was at the top of the CEO earnings list compiled by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) because RBI paid him $151,812,911. This was made up of $106,007,1515 of “Share based Awards” and $45,805,760 of “Option based Awards”. As you are well aware, this is much more than what the average worker in Canada took home in 2022 ($60,000).

I don’t know how much the average worker at Tim’s took home in 2022. Hopefully it was at least as much as the Canadian average because Tim’s can obviously afford to pay well.

Mr Doyle, because of the manner of how his compensation was structured, had an increased benefit. This is a result of how Canada’s income tax system is structured. You are well aware of the financial benefits of receiving shares and stock “options”. Not all of Mr. Doyle’s multi-million dollar income will be subjected to income tax, in contrast to the income of the busy employees I’m watching right now.

We both know that the CEO at Tims does not pay income tax in the same fair and equitable way that Tims front line servers do. This is totally unfair. A dollar is a dollar!

I can remember the Royal Commission on Taxation report on taxation in Canada (1966). I recall Carter’s principle that: “fairness should be the foremost objective of the taxation system”. Every dollar of income, no matter its source, ought to be taxed in a fair and equitable manner.

Therefore, this letter is a reminder that you have the power to implement a fair and equitable system of taxation on incomes in Canada by immediately;
1. Re-establishing additional brackets for the top levels of income
2. Taxing capital gains at the same rate as income is taxed on employment
3. Closing loopholes that are designed to help the wealthy avoid paying their
fair share, and
4. Re-establishing a succession tax on estates.

Two of the above four taxation measures were previously in effect in Canada, but were erased by governments that opted for policies favouring the wealthy few rather than the common good. Polling demonstrates that 87 per cent of Canadians want to see your government reduce the wealth gap by taxing the ultra-rich.

You can use the additional revenues, gained by taxing people like Mr. Doyle on all of their income, to invest in:

  • A post-carbon economy
  • A public pharmacare program
  • Re-building our public health-care system
  • Subsidizing the construction of deeply affordable homes for Canadians to rent
  • And radically improving public transit.

Canada can move towards a thriving, compassionate and caring society through the implementation of changes in our income tax system that would make it fair and equitable for everyone.

I suspect that the people behind the counter here at Tims would support a policy where they, and Mr. Doyle, both pay a fair and equitable rate of taxation.

Yours truly;
Allan Baker

Income data is from the CCPA report: Canada’s new gilded age: CEO pay in Canada in 2022