Hundreds of Nova Scotia doctors, medical students, family practice doctors and specialists crammed into a high school cafeteria in Halifax to express their frustrations about the proposed tax changes.

“I have a tremendous amount of debt right now coming out into practice, still have to maintain your insurance fees, your college fees, all of those kinds of things that are still a cost to covers,” said resident, Dr. Charlotte Edwards.

The meeting began with the statement that some 400 doctors feel they may be forced to leave the province or country for better opportunities or they may have to cut back on their hours. 

In practical terms, some doctors say they’re in fact like small business operators without employer paid maternity leave or pension plans.

Dr. Paul Van Boxel, 78, said he still works part-time as a general surgeon and sympathizes with today’s family practitioners.

“It’s six bucks per patient, he has to see about four an hour to make his overhead, so people wonder why doctors are rushed, they have to, otherwise they can't make it,” he said.

Elected officials also attended the meeting in Halifax, including the opposition PC MLA for Cole Harbour and Eastern Passage, Barbara Adams.

“We're the only one in the province that doesn't have a single family doctor for over seventeen thousand people, and with the busing issues that we have, and the elderly population that we have a lot of, it's a major barrier to those who are looking for health care,” says Adams.

Some of the doctors at the meeting told CTV News that 40 per cent of their after-tax income goes to business overhead.

They say the proposed federal tax changes will mean bigger tax bills for them.

“We can't absorb every change the federal government makes at any policy level, that's something we can't do, the province doesn't have unlimited resources,” said Premier Stephen McNeil earlier this week.

The Federal Finance Minister, Bill Morneau faced a tough business audience Saturday in Fredericton while addressing members of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, but he made no promises.

“I hope that you will understand that we have been listening, what we started with was a set of ideas that required your input and we will be incorporating it,” said Morneau.

Some doctors at the meeting in Halifax say that after spending ten or 15 years in post-secondary education and accumulating big debts, they now wonder if it was all worth it.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ron Shaw.