Freedom from government services day
Well well, another misinformed tax freedom day has come and gone on June 12th.Â To mark the occasion this year I wanted to skip over the very seriousÂ methodological flawsÂ that others have pointed out, and take a look at several other items that Canadians are “free of” at various points.Â By gaining â€œfreedomâ€ from the taxes that Canadians pay we also gain â€œfreedomâ€ from the services those taxes pay for. Â I for one am all about more freedom!!
( let me point out that the back of my envelope got a good workout during these calculations so donâ€™t take them as gospel).
The first â€œfreedomâ€ day I decided to calculate was freedom from Medicare.Â By what day did the provincial governments of Canada stop meddling in Canadiansâ€™ medical bills and leave them free to pay them out of pocket.
Table 1: Freedom from Medicare Day
|Medicare Freedom Date||Nov 6th||Nov 3rd||Oct 24th||Oct 19th||Oct 15th||Oct 13th|
Source: CIHI, National Health Expenditure Trends 1975â€“2011 Table A.3.3.1 & Table A3.2.1 Ratio of public to all health expendituresÂ (This covers hospitals (Operating and Capital), physicians, homecare and prescription drugs but EXCLUDES other professionals (like dentists/optometrists), public health, non-prescription drugs & health research.)
As you can see Canadians have gained almost an entire month since 1980 of additional â€œfreedomâ€ for which they get to pay out of pocket for their prescription drugs, homecare services and physician services.Â So you donâ€™t happen to have extra money to enjoy the â€œfreedomâ€ of paying for your prescriptions all year, time to start making “freedom” tradeoffs between rent and medication.
Canadian seniors, who are often the heaviest users of Medicare, are not the only ones who received more â€œfreedomâ€ from lower taxes, students also drank deeply from the chalice of liberty.Â In the latter case, students gained significant â€œfreedomâ€ from low tuition as governments provided less and less public funding for higher education.Â The day at which the government stops investing in post-secondary education and students have to pay the full cost advanced rapidly since the late 1980s.
Table 2: Freedom from Low Tuition Day
|Freedom from Low Tuition||September 19th||August 25th||July 26th||July 19th||July 21st|
Source: Statistics Canada: Cansim 385-00074 ratio of all government revenue to total revenue
Table 2 shows that in 1989, governments stopped investing in post-secondary education and provided students with the â€œfreedomâ€ to pay tuition on September 19th. By 2009, governments had truly opened the freedom gates by stopping payment to universities and colleges almost 2 months earlier.Â Students for their part gained significantly more â€œfreedomâ€ through higher tuition.Â Donâ€™t have the money to enjoy your additional â€œfreedom,â€ well there is always the â€œfreedomâ€ to carry heavy debt.
Economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.