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A real estate sign in Vancouver.JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

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Home truths

Re CEOs Preach The Positive While Privately Preparing For Recession (Report on Business, May 31): Please stop using words like “pessimistic” and “negative” to describe predictions that home prices may decrease. For my millennial children and anyone else aspiring to buy their first home, improved affordability in Canada’s real estate market would be unambiguously positive.

Steven Kennett Calgary

Re Debt, Housing And Caution (Editorial, May 28): Most people would agree: The cost of housing in cities like Toronto and Vancouver is ridiculous. How to bring prices down? Governments are grabbing tens of thousands of dollars on each sale in property transfer taxes and GST on new builds. These taxes are percentage-based and keep on ballooning with sale prices. Realtors have taken huge advantage too of these hikes in their percentage-based fees. Their commissions stealthily escalate as base prices rise.

It would behoove governments and realtors to step up to the fact they are a big part of the housing affordability problem rather than dreaming up, inter alia, expensive programs for first-time buyers, whilst at the same time filling their coffers.

If we could get these costs under control, home buyers might have a fighting chance.

Anita Goodman Vancouver

Our politicians have been two-faced, pledging to bring down house prices to all who will listen, while pocketing for the government exorbitant amounts in fees and taxes. Disgraceful.

Barbara Yaffe Vancouver

Military misconduct

Re Former Justice Calls For Urgent Action On Report On Military (June 1): After three major reports in seven years on misconduct in the Canadian military, all with concrete recommendations, the time for action is now. Any delay to accept and implement Justice Louise Arbour’s recommendations is unacceptable.

Our government must immediately ensure that procedures are developed as they are critical to the lives of enlisted women. The transfer of sexual assault cases to the civilian court system is a good start. Taken within the context of the other recommendations, this will assure Canadians that change is a real objective and not simply part of the rhetoric.

It is imperative that a comprehensive review of officer training in the colleges in Ontario and Quebec be undertaken without delay. The hostile culture of sexual assault, harassment and misconduct starts here and must end here. The mandate of these colleges must reflect a significant change in the culture so these egregious practices can be eradicated.

Canadians should expect nothing less.

Patricia Leson, President, National Council of Women of Canada

Re Military Should Give Up Control Of Sexual Assault Cases: Report (May 31): Governments should act to remedy any conduct within the military that violates the purpose, functioning and principles that govern it, particularly behaviour that is unlawful. To entrust this function to the institution itself is to allow the fox to guard the henhouse.

Jill Armstrong Victoria

Food for thought

Re What Can Politicians Do About Food Prices (Report on Business, June 1): While governments can do little to reduce food prices, they can ensure that the populations most at risk can get access to nutritious food.

Malnutrition affects children’s physical health, mental health and learning ability, in some cases for a lifetime. There are extensive Canadian peer-reviewed studies documenting the impact of food insecurity and nutritional inadequacy on a child’s body and brain. Research on the topic dates back to the 1960s. The American Academy of Pediatrics “recommends routine screening for food insecurity during health maintenance visits.”

Canada is the only G7 country without a national government-funded food supplement program in its schools. Canada, unlike European countries and the U.S., does not provide public funds to food banks. It is embarrassing that our governments have largely ignored the nutritional needs of the most vulnerable members of our country.

John Shepherd Richmond, B.C.

Seeing to seniors

Re Ontario Parties Promise Improvements To Long-Term Care For Seniors (May 25): More than 4,400 residents and 13 staff in Ontario’s long-term care homes have died because of COVID-19. Nurses were sounding the alarm on the important changes needed in the sector long before the onset of the pandemic. Yet the problems not only persisted, but were exacerbated by the pandemic. Change is desperately needed.

Seniors deserve timely access to high-quality, safe and dignified care. The province’s next government must implement a comprehensive seniors’ care strategy, including expanding home care so seniors can stay longer at home, which is where most want to be. And, when a nursing home is their new home, each senior must receive sufficient nursing and personal care from the proper mix of nursing practitioners, registered nurses, registered practical nurses and personal support workers.

Caring for seniors is one of our most important responsibilities as individuals and as a society. We can and must do better.

Dr. Doris Grinspun, RN, CEO, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario

Goodbye gatekeepers?

Re Let’s Get Rid Of All The Gatekeepers, Not Just The Ones Poilievre Finds Convenient To Attack (Opinion, May 27): The vast majority of us would hate to live in the Canada that Andrew Coyne describes in his column. While whether we have too much government regulation is a legitimate point of debate, removing all the “gates,” as he describes it, wouldn’t spread cheery prosperity around. It would swell the ranks of those who are marginalized or lead precarious lives while benefiting the few who will grab an ever larger share of the pie. And to maintain a system like that you need to resort to increased authoritarianism. It wouldn’t be pretty. Our neighbour to the south comes to mind.

Jeff Andrew Toronto

Our society is full of “gatekeepers.” Should we get rid of the police (as some have advocated)? Food and transportation safety inspectors? Building and industrial safety regulation? Banks and monetary systems? Educational certification of doctors and engineers? Governments of all levels? Yes, there are bound to be inefficiencies and (greater and lesser) biases in every human-imposed regulation in society. We need to work at continuous improvement, with the realization that we will never get to perfection or unanimous agreement. Yes, let’s look closely and regularly at the institutional constraints we build, and evaluate not only some aggregate net benefit or cost (quantification of which is highly problematic), but whose shoulders these fall upon, before we hand the hatchet to Pierre Poilievre or anyone else.

Ian R. Graham Vancouver

RIP Ronnie Hawkins

Re Rockabilly Legend Ronnie Hawkins Dies At 87 (May 30): Just imagine – an American artist heads north to make it big – and succeeds. Here’s to the Hawk, who gave back even more than he got.

Marianne Orr Brampton, Ont.

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