Re The Rise Of ‘Small Ball’ Politics (Jan. 29): Jeffrey Simpson does a brilliant job of showing how the Tories and NDP occupy the same political terrain, favouring Band-Aids over cure when it comes to Canadians’ financial situation.
These “targeted promises to help people cope with the cost of living” actually worsen the relative situation of the poor, and make the “large social project” of reducing poverty less achievable.
For example, the Child Fitness Tax Credit and Child Arts Tax Credit don’t benefit children of the poor because their parents can’t afford the cost of lessons. The poorest of the poor don’t pay taxes, so a credit like the non-refundable Child Tax Credit is of no use to them. The Universal Child Care Benefit is retrogressive because the same amount goes to all families with children.
In 2012, redirecting the funds from the Universal Child Care Benefit, the Child Tax Credit and the Child Fitness Tax Credit into the National Children’s Benefit Supplement for poor and modest income families would have paid two-thirds of the cost of lowering the child poverty rate by 15 per cent.
The ball may be small, but the opportunity cost for poor Canadians is high.
Sid Frankel, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba
‘It is to weep’
Re Veterans Affairs Asks For $581 Benefit Repayment After Soldier’s Suicide: Report (online, Jan. 29): There no Highway of Heroes for those wounded and maimed in the cause of our country. The road our wounded are on is one of despair and relived trauma inflicted by a Conservative government that sees veterans as liabilities. Abandoned and left to fend for themselves, for some vets the only relief from their pain is suicide. It is to weep.
For a family sent a letter asking for a refund of benefits, there is no apology from Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino and this government that will overcome their feelings of betrayal and loss.
Dan Filliol, Cornwall, Ont.
Lately there has been a lot of press given to discrimination and to how we as a society need to be inclusive. Right now, because of Russian policy on homosexuality, the focus is on the LGBT community (Gay Councillor Ready For IOC Fight , Jan. 29). I wish we could all get the same press.
I am a heavy person; many people are rude to me and many businesses haven’t made room for me. My father spent his life in a wheelchair; people talked down to him. My daughter is mentally handicapped; she never feels like she fits in anywhere. My sister is mentally ill; otherwise-nice people go out of their way to be cruel to her. My mother is elderly; to society, she has been erased by age. My son has ADHD; you’ve never seen discrimination until you try to take him to town.
And my husband is religious: What else could go wrong?
Remember the old Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do to you? Maybe we should start fighting for the rights of others, so no one is discriminated against. Just sayin’.
Valerie Garding, Winfield, B.C.
Trees, power lines
Re Tree-Trimming Budget Pruned In Years Before Ice Storm (Jan. 29): Toronto Hydro’s Ben LaPianta says “tree trimming is not designed … to prevent against the damage that arose from the ice storm.” Why trim trees then?
Tree-trimming programs carried out by electric utilities can and should be designed to lessen the impacts of ice build-up on trees causing power outages.
S.T. Griffiths, forester, Orillia, Ont.
Smart pension move
Re For Employers, There’s A Downside To Healthy Pensions (Report on Business, Jan. 29): As a pension actuary who witnessed firsthand the mass abandonment of defined benefit pension plans over the past few decades, I hope Sophie Cousineau is correct that such plans are no longer on the endangered-species list.
A well-designed defined benefit pension plan remains the most efficient way to allocate retirement funds to employees. Unfortunately, the focus on pension plans has become exclusively on their cost, rather than the benefit they deliver to the employees.
I hope employers will come to realize that many employees put a high value on defined benefit pension plans, so it’s a smart human resources strategy to continue them.
Alan Cook, retired pension actuary, Vancouver
Re Wynne Considering A Defined Contribution Pension Plan (Jan. 29): I would support a mandatory Ontario pension plan as a supplement to the Canada Pension Plan, if Ontario were to contract the governance and management of its plan to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, an excellent low-cost performer. Then it will be a small matter for the CPP to subsume its provincial counterpart when the federal government succumbs to the inevitable and expands the CPP.
Michael D. Arkin, Toronto
Re Waterfront Is For People, Not Planes (Jan. 29): The article opposing the expansion of Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport ends with: “We cannot allow it to replace a highly valued public vision for our waterfront. We only have one waterfront and it belongs to everyone.”
Those are lovely sentiments, unfortunately they are decades late. Toronto’s waterfront, especially its harbour, was sold off to developers years ago.
Looking at Toronto from its harbour islands, all one can see is a wall of condos. The only view of Toronto itself is the tallest of office towers, hotels and condos piercing the sky above that same wall. Belongs to everyone? Hardly.
It was on the watch of some of these same high-profile civic leaders or former leaders who signed this article that Toronto’s waterfront was sold off to developers, creating lovely views for a few entitled residents. These writers protest far, far too late for their stated vision.
David Kister, Toronto
The government once again wants to control and mould Toronto’s waterfront to what it sees as its vision of the future. Let’s review what they’ve done: Skyscraper condos that cut off views to the lake; an LRT line along Queens Quay that few ride and that makes driving there as much fun as pulling a cart and donkey; a ferry system that takes travellers 121 metres, when a bridge would make better use of the airport and one of Toronto’s biggest parks.
Toronto’s waterfront is already a calamity of government vision. Let’s give those who want to give us an easy-access airport their opportunity to get things moving.
Michael Robertson, Toronto
Ban for ban
Re Canada Cracks Down On British Imports (Jan. 25): We are the butt of jokes in the U.K. over this. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, okay, but not Marmite. The U.K. should ban Canadian beef in retaliation.
Alex Oldfield, Fredericton
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