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LCBO sign in Toronto.Dave LeBlanc/The Globe and Mail

Doctor in the house?

Re “It’s time for Canadians to have the right to a family doctor” (Opinion, April 6): Doctor Jane Philpott writes that Canada should guarantee every citizen a family physician, in the same way that every child has a teacher in public school.

Fewer medical school graduates, who have high debt burdens to start, are choosing family medicine because of the added burden of running a business and the extra expense of office overhead costs. Hospital-based physicians have little to no overhead and keep most of what they bill.

Teachers are not asked to pay out of pocket for their school buildings, staffing, supplies and utilities the way office-based physicians are. If we are to achieve the goal of universal access to family doctors, we should tell them where to work, pay competitive salaries, cover all overhead costs and supply them with full pensions at retirement.

That would be an interesting negotiation between government and physicians’ unions.

Michael Damus MD; Uxbridge, Ont.

I was stunned by the example of the British National Health Service.

The NHS has dealt with repeated strikes by doctors and nurses and decimated services in recent years. I find that the reason overall spending is lower than ours is because of years of underfunding.

This has led to long wait times, an increasing use of expensive private health care and a widespread shortage of family physicians. They are leaving the profession, citing intense work loads, inadequate funding and burnout.

The NHS, then, is a canary in the coal mine when we think about potential changes to our own health services under threat of increased privatization.

Kate Ciceri Guelph, Ont.

Provincial priorities

Re “Ontario needs a fiscal conservative party. Doug Ford’s PCs aren’t it” (Editorial, April 6): There was no mention of the $1-billion lost annually in removing driver’s licence renewal fees. Along with the massive electricity subsidy and cutting the provincial gas tax, together these could have helped to eliminate Ontario’s deficit.

The increased electricity subsidy was also greater than the increase in health funding. Budgets are all about priorities, and the Ford government demonstrated that they put a higher priority on subsidies than improving health care.

Stephen Godfrey Ottawa

Bag it

Re “Premier Doug Ford requests LCBO reinstate free paper bags” (April 9): So Doug Ford is concerned about “people stuck openly carrying alcohol in public when leaving a LCBO store.”

How about he focus on things that matter more to Ontarians, such as funding accessible health care, ending homelessness, fighting climate change and wisely using our tax dollars. I’m much more concerned about these things than maybe seeing someone carrying home a bottle of hooch.

Scott Nevin Kitchener, Ont.

Doug Ford’s argument for reintroducing paper bags at the LCBO makes some sense. Openly carrying alcohol in public does carry a stigma – if one lived in 1955.

I suppose the good news is that it may be only another 10 years before our Premier learns about the environmental crisis.

Glenn Parsons Guelph, Ont.

Of all the issues facing Ontario, Doug Ford is upset about “people stuck openly carrying alcohol in public.”

This is a guy who is all about promoting the consumption of alcohol – be it “buck a beer” or allowing tailgating and alcohol in sales in corner stores – when drinking is known to cause high rates of cancer and other debilitating illnesses that must be borne by Ontario’s buckling health care system.

Yet he still wants to hide our booze, at the cost of 188,000 trees a year.

Gareth Lind Guelph, Ont.

Good value

Re “Trudeau shouldn’t reject Chrétien and Harper’s offer on 24 Sussex” (April 4): Bravo to Jean Chrétien and Stephen Harper for volunteering to head a fundraising campaign for the estimated $37-million to restore 24 Sussex. It is an important and historic heritage building that is currently an international embarrassment.

And just think: At under $1 per Canadian, it’s clearly a much better expenditure than ArriveCan, regardless of who pays for it.

Bruce Alger Calgary

How much?

Re “Corporate pay” (Letters, April 5): “Our latest Loblaws bill came to $350.23 – which will feed a retired couple on a fixed income for about a week.”

A retired couple, on a fixed income, spending $350 a week (or $50 a day) for food feels pretty rich.

Arnie Glickman Toronto

Greater good

Re “Vatican’s declaration of gender-affirming surgery and surrogacy as grave violations of human dignity denounced by critics” (April 9): Pope Francis appears to be a caring person on many issues, but his cold shepherding of some members of his flock feels uncharacteristically cruel. Judging persons born the way they are as undignified or sinful when trying to deal with their human condition surely misses the spirit of Christ’s gospel of love, tolerance and forgiveness.

Identifying surrogacy, the offering of one’s womb to bring more wanted life into the world, is a win-win for humanity that faithful Catholics should be rejoicing. Consequently, Pope Francis depicting it as a “grave violation of human dignity” should be considered a moral mistake. Surely Christian values are compromised when he judges acting like a Good Samaritan to be a sin.

Fortunately for the Pope, many of his flock are willing to forgive him when he knows not what he does. Hopefully their non-judgmental Christian attitudes will convince him to repent and rethink his values.

Tony D’Andrea Toronto

Play it again

Re “Solar eclipse playlist: Here are 20 songs to play during Monday’s cosmic show” (April 4): How quickly a whole culture is eclipsed.

I read with sorrow of the exclusion of classical music from this playlist. It seems that not just the sun was obliterated in the moment.

How many youngsters today have even heard Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata or Gustav Holst’s The Planets?

Margaret van Dijk Toronto

Major issue

Re “I got a ticket for distracted driving. Will my insurance rates rise right away?” (Online, April 7): “Minor tickets include running a red light and, in Ontario, speeding less than 49 kilometres an hour over the speed limit. Distracted driving is considered a major ticket.”

Like the questioner, I was also ticketed for the same offence many years ago while at a red light, just a $100 fine then. I acknowledge that jabbering away or texting on a phone while driving is dangerous, but running a red light or excessive speeding should be more than a minor offence.

The law also mentions “holding or touching a hand-held electronic device.” I assume using my digital camera or phone to snap a few pictures would be an offence, but what about my old Pentax K1000 or the 1940s vintage Leica I inherited? Not a silicon chip to be found in either.

I wouldn’t want to argue either point in court, but I also try not to run red lights.

Glenn Allen Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan, Ont.

Family tree

Re “First telegraph link from Winnipeg to Telegraph Flats” (Moment in Time, April 6): My children, their mother and cousins are descended from one of the West’s pioneers.

Robert McKernan was born in 1846 in Richmond Hill, Ont., and had three brothers, including James. Robert married Sara Ann Hodgins and they had 11 children.

James had a colourful history, being the third man to enlist in the North-West Mounted Police in 1874. He returned to Ontario in 1876 and convinced his brother to join him in Alberta. They packed up their families and headed west.

The brothers built a telegraph line on to Edmonton, the only connection to the east. In 1877, James sent the first message from Hay Lakes to Edmonton. He was also present at the founding of Calgary.

Robert died in 1908 in Strathcona. Sara died in 1944 in Calgary. Their second child Lizzie married Robert Bisset in 1894, from whom my family is descended.

Nigel Napier-Andrews Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

Trusted sources

Re “Can we trust news from wire services?” (March 30): Are the journalists working for The Canadian Press, Reuters and Associated Press infallible? Of course not. But they are trained professionals with considerable skills, who report the facts as best they can.

In an online environment that mistakenly and consistently conflates opinion with facts, wire services are gold.

Linda Leon Whitehorse

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