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The EU’s worth
Re Britons Fear Ripples Of A No-Deal Exit From EU (Jan. 21): As a native of King’s Lynn in England, I found Paul Waldie’s report very accurate. Having visited King’s Lynn – the “small port city in eastern England that’s best known as the birthplace of Captain George Vancouver” – annually for the past half-century, I have seen family members expertly attended by Dutch doctors, Spanish surgeons and Czech home-carers.
Others have had their field-crop rotations generously funded by the EU, while many have sunned themselves in Tenerife (following Capt. George to Vancouver was a rare alternative).
Sad to say, but amid all this Brexit turmoil, my fellow “Norfolk Dumplings” (as we are called) seem to have forgotten where their gravy has come from.
Peter Bly, Kingston
Re Brexit Alone Won’t Kill The EU, But Rising Right-Wing Nationalism Could (Jan. 16): Your article conveys only a partial view of current EU sentiment in Europe. Where is the data to back the opinion that “faith in the European project is fading fast”?
Some facts point to a very different reality. The latest Eurobarometer survey suggests that the European Union is more appreciated than ever. The survey was conducted between Nov. 26 and Dec. 3, 2018 with 26,071 respondents in the EU27. It shows a continuous increase in support for the EU.
While 60 per cent of respondents interviewed in April, 2018, found EU membership to be a good thing, this figure increased to 62 per cent in September, and increased again to 68 per cent in December. Another study shows two-thirds of Europeans believe their country has benefited from being a member of the EU, the highest percentage since 1983.
Support for the EU has been steadily growing since the first direct elections for the European Parliament in 1979. Like many countries and regions in the world, the EU, too, is facing challenging times. But to suggest that these challenges will lead to the European Union’s demise is a gross exaggeration.
Peteris Ustubs, EU Ambassador to Canada
Ban Huawei from 5G
Re Huawei Should Be Banned From Canadian 5G Networks (Jan. 21): If the price of freedom and democracy, not to mention human rights, is paying more for a Huawei-free 5G service, bring it on. Integrity matters.
Pamela Pastachak, Ridgeway, Ont.
Paying for drugs
Re Let’s Make This The Year Of Pharmacare (Jan. 10): Your editorials emphasizing the need for universal pharmacare point out that about 10 per cent of people have no medicine coverage, and another 10 per cent are underinsured. In medical practice, we have to find ways around the problem, choosing the cheapest alternatives, using benefits of other family members, or providing samples (usually the most expensive new drugs, so they must be changed when they run out).
Being sick puts people at the lower end of the social scale out of work, and being unable to pay for drugs often makes them sicker, making it more difficult to obtain work, especially good work with insurance benefits. Being sick makes you poor, and being poor makes you more sick when you cannot afford medications.
While it is illegal to discriminate against job applicants based on their likely health costs, it appears to happen. Having an illness and therefore potentially taking sick leave, or making higher use of employer health insurance may separate two applicants, especially for smaller employers.
Pharmacare would be good for society, helping those in need, enabling more people to work and be less likely to deteriorate, and then need costly hospital care.
James A. Dickinson, professor of Family Medicine and Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary
Re Drug Maker Is Gouging, Regulator Says (Jan. 19): As Kelly Grant’s article noted, we offer a program to ensure patients are able to receive Procysbi, which sells for $325,000 a year, regardless of their insurance coverage or ability to pay.
A crucial aspect of our investment is the cost to develop Procysbi, a rare-disease drug, and bring it to Canada. It cost more than $180-million to do nine clinical trials, and we continue to invest millions to bring Procysbi to Canada, secure marketing approval, meet obligations to ensure the ongoing safety of patients, manufacturing, and supply. This is an important distinction from the unapproved alternative.
Recent proposed changes to the Patented Medicines Pricing Review Board guidelines target innovative medicines that serve some of the most vulnerable patient populations in the country, despite the cost of these medicines representing a very small percentage of the overall Canadian drug budget.
This is a critical moment for the future of rare-disease medicines, and we believe that bringing innovative treatments to these underserved patients is worth the necessary costs.
John Haslam, general manager, Horizon Therapeutic Canada
Old books on offer
Re Who Wants Old Books? No One (First Person, Jan. 18): Unlike your essayist, my experience disposing of 50 boxes of books was a delight. I started with a rare books dealer examining my first editions; he bought a few and educated me on why some were undesirable (torn wrappers, Book Club remainders). This made it easier to let them go. Then I had a dealer interested in paperback fiction. Opening boxes in my cold garage, we enthused about the Raymond Chandler novels. A dollar each, but I was warmed by the thought of someone else enjoying them. Next, a call to independent bookstores, which said they couldn’t afford to pay rent on storage space for books that might take months to sell.
I now had an insight into how the book business wasn’t just a case of a love of books.
Finally, I turned to donating books to colleges, which have space and student volunteers to receive, store and eventually unpack, categorize and sell to fund bursaries. In the midst of a snow storm, eager student volunteers were waiting for my laden subcompact to arrive. This was a great relief to me, and my car’s suspension.
No one wanted university texts such as anthologies. Fine with me, since with a pared-down library I wanted representative texts (Norton Anthology of Poetry, etc.) on my bookshelf. Those 60-year-old high-school Latin and science texts I took to the dump and with gusto threw them into the bin. Now, after reading new books, I donate them to the thrift shop. They give me a coupon to buy … more books!
David Nimmo, Toronto
Class in session
Re Kindergarten Politics Is Now in Session (editorial, Jan. 21): Referring to the current behaviour of British and American politicians as reflecting “kindergarten ethics” is an insult to kindergartners.
Perhaps these politicians should spend time in a kindergarten class – they just might learn something.
Marni Stoch, Mississauga