One can only assume that Michael Bliss's lips got tired before he actually finished reading the Romanow report (The Right Way To Reform Health Care - April 19). As the Romanow commission's research co-ordinator, I would like to point out that it involved much more than throwing more money at the system.
That the federal government and the provinces focused only on filling the so-called "Romanow gap" in system funding rather than on engaging the hard choices Mr. Romanow proposed should not be blamed on the messenger.
The commission had two goals. First was the accumulation of the best evidence available including 40 published research reports that ran the gamut of the ideological spectrum. The second was a multifaceted approach to getting citizens involved in thinking about not only what they needed from the system but also how it should be financed, organized and reformed.
Tom McIntosh, associate professor and head, political science, University of Regina
A royal commission may be an option to open the Pandora's box of the Canadian health-care system. The problem is the 50,000-foot view of problems and recommended solutions. A pragmatic approach would be to analyze the cost drivers in one or two of the country's regional health authorities.
Using financial and demographic data, initiate a systematic review of the activities that contribute to the cost. Its purpose would be to identify the largest cost drivers, review the activities contributing to them, benchmark against world-class health organizations, redesign the process as required, implement and evaluate. The underlying purpose of the review would be to determine if we can do better with the same resources. Until we answer this question, large-scale changes to health-care policy are premature.
Michael O'Shea, Nanaimo, B.C.
Another royal commission on health care is completely unnecessary, and would only provide the proponents of privatization yet another opportunity to derail the urgent work needed to strengthen our public health-care system.
The Romanow commission heard from Canadians across the country and clearly articulated our national desire to maintain a universal public health-care system based on the principal of equity.
Successive Liberal and Conservative federal governments, however, have failed to follow through on key Romanow recommendations, namely a national pharmacare program to tackle the continually rising cost of prescription drugs, and a national home and long-term care program to effectively care for our aging population.
Instead of another commission, what Canada's public health-care system really needs is a federal government that will commit to strengthening our public system, not dismantling it, and spur the development of national pharmacare, home and long-term care programs that will ensure all Canadians get the care they need.
Paul Moist, national president, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Ottawa
Juicy junior job
Re Tory Minister's Office Hired Niece Of Carson's Girlfriend (April 19): I'm not going to get into bashing the Conservatives or Bruce Carson over this story. My question is simply, What the heck are we doing paying a "summer student" a salary of at least $53,700, when according to the story, "there was nothing unusual in hiring someone with no particular skills in the field or party background?
"Well, it was a very junior role. So giving somebody some experience was what it was all about."
No party can get government spending under control if the government pays inexperienced students more money than most Canadians earn supporting families.
Rob McLellan, Mississauga
Shredded social fabric
Re The Real 'Social Media Election' Begins After The Polls Close (April 19): Ivor Tossell says of social media that "It defies most attempts to manipulate it," and therein lies the problem for political campaigns.
Social media demonstrates just how anti-social partisan politics can be. Groups quickly dwindle into irrelevance when partisans dominate. Groups stay active by displaying little tolerance for partisan rhetoric, usually by simply ignoring the perpetrators.
The current divisive tactics and overblown rhetoric of partisan politics shreds the social media fabric.
Neil Adair, Ottawa
Stopping head shots
Re NHL Doesn't Do Right Thing On Torres Head Shot (April 19): The NHL still hasn't solved the serious problem of eradicating vicious and dangerous head shots. As a former NHLer from the 60s, as I see it, the league is trying to treat the effect and not the cause.
Coaches at all levels drum it into their players to play the body and finish the check. This coaching strategy is now out of control with players chasing all over the ice hitting players with, and too often without, the puck.
In viewing the replays on TV of a multitude of hits, the most recent being the Raffi Torres head shot on Brent Seabrook, the solution became obvious to me. The focus of players has to shift from hitting the opponent at every opportunity to chasing the puck.
If getting possession of the puck is the primary focus, many of the hits, particularly late ones, should disappear, and restore hockey as a safe game.
Brian Conacher, Toronto
Re Abandon The Pride (April 18): The Pope says man is trying to be like God with technology and this is bad. Technology, he says, increases the possibilities for evil. (Were the popes during the Renaissance saying this sort of thing about the printing press?)
But evil has been doing quite well for centuries with and without the aid of technology, from the simple arrowhead to the most advanced space weapons (and torture devices used by supposedly pious priests of the Inquisition).
Evil is the product of a brain, not a technological creation. As for wanting to be like God in terms of power and glory - I see the Pope was wearing resplendent red and gold vestments and generally lets people bow before him. So much for riding into town on a donkey.
Anne Spencer, Victoria
Re Laying Down Roots By the Lake (Life - April 19): I enjoy Tara Hardy's collages so much. Always there is a touch of nature: a cerulean warbler, song sparrow, the bright colour of a flower lighting up the piece, and often a line of script capturing the theme of The Essay. Please commend her for an item I usually check out first thing. She makes the headlines more bearable!
Susan Lindenberger, White Rock, B.C.
Here's an idea
Re To Cut or Not to Cut (April 18): I fully support Stephen Harper's proposal to push our corporate tax rates to levels comparable with Ireland, provided that he first secures Canada's membership in the EU so that we, too, may receive a massive bailout.
Thor Kuhlmann, Vancouver