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A customer enters a restaurant with help wanted signs on Nov. 17, 2021 in Laval, Que. as employers deal with the labour shortage.Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Going down

Re “Points taken” (Letters, Feb. 26): To say that Canada has an almost zero chance of invasion would be like saying the Titanic is unsinkable.

We have abundant natural resources, including oil, critical minerals and the world’s largest source of fresh water. Russia has for a long time eyed the Canadian Arctic, making a permanent defence station there a necessity. And now China is collaborating with Russia in its pursuit to gain access to a northern trade route.

We have a notoriously weak defence, a threatened NATO alliance and a heavily armed and much less reliable neighbour to our south with a history of attempted annexation. That neighbour, astonishingly, has a presidential contender inviting Russia to attack nations not meeting NATO commitments.

If elected, or in the event of what was once an unthinkable overthrow of the U.S. government, Donald Trump could share Vladimir Putin’s expansionist interests.

Denise Loader Whitchurch–Stouffville, Ont.

Evasive language, delay and avoidance seem to be the standard features displayed by our national leadership when subjected to challenges to our dismal record of chronic underperformance in defence spending. Sadly, I saw this on display again during our Prime Minister’s recent visit to Poland.

I believe there are two options to address the problem: alone or together, and increased taxes or reductions of non-defence expenditures. It’s a new, dangerous world out there, and if we don’t step up we shouldn’t complain about the results.

Loss of respect from our allies might be a lesser consequence of those results. With U.S. support for NATO threatened, our actions become even more important.

Donald MacGregor Duncan, B.C.

Bottom out

Re “The Prosperity Problem: Don’t fix the labour crunch, embrace it” (Editorial, Feb. 26): I believe there are no labour shortages, only people who refuse to work for appalling wages under unsavoury conditions.

Many Canadians can’t afford to live on the wages offered. Food banks and the large homeless population are a testament to this situation. We don’t reproduce more, because we can’t afford to do it.

Government programs such as the Temporary Foreign Worker program only succeed in maintaining this setup of low wages. As long as such programs continue to undermine the natural evolution of economies, we will likely “become collectively a little poorer.”

Government policies have an enormous impact on our financial system. As the editorial says, “a scarcity of workers will create needed pressure on business to innovate, and create a higher-wage economy.”

Leslie Martel Mississauga

Are low-skilled foreign workers competing with and suppressing the wages of low-skilled Canadian workers?

Employers cannot legally bring in temporary foreign workers, except on the basis of rigorous proof that all domestic hiring efforts have failed, and that wages and benefits are undifferentiated. Employers face significant expenses to hire abroad.

If low-skilled work is generally underpaid, it is often in goods-producing industries that compete directly with imported goods from low-wage jurisdictions (the U.S. federal minimum wage, for example, is US$7.25 an hour). Meanwhile the promise of “techno solutionism” keeps falling flat when it comes to driving trucks, stocking shelves, bathing seniors and washing down slaughter plants.

Consider me part of the problem: I have had it with self-serve checkouts, but don’t they dare raise the price of tomatoes a nickel more to bring back more staff.

Rory McAlpine Victoria

Well read

Re “Ontario tables bill to overrule provincial energy regulator on natural gas decision, says it would raise cost of new homes” (Report on Business, Feb. 23): Ontario’s Energy Minister says that the Ontario Energy Board, which exists to defend the interests of provincial energy consumers, made a “rash,” “rushed” and “irrational” decision and had failed to consult relevant stakeholders.

The OEB made its decision after a year-long process with extensive consultations, all meticulously detailed in its 147-page report. Far from being “rash,” “rushed” and “irrational,” I find that the OEB’s decision was based on a reasoned decision not to force consumers to pay for a gas distribution system. Such a system would surely become redundant long before a 40-year amortization period expires as the world, of necessity, transitions to clean energy alternatives.

The OEB’s decision will likely save Ontario homebuyers money as builders choose to service new communities with cheaper, non-polluting energy sources.

Liz Addison Toronto

Use again

Re “Adaptive reuse or build-from-scratch? Experts say repurposing new buildings brings many benefits” (Online, Feb. 21): The heritage community has long been advocating the recycling and reuse not only of those buildings with heritage designation, but all older buildings.

It makes sense environmentally to repurpose older buildings. But for every shining example of recycling our built environment, our increasingly scarce landfill sites are littered with the rubble of dozens of lost opportunities, many of them with significant historic value.

All orders of government should reassess and restructure tax and regulatory frameworks to provide incentives to encourage the preservation of our precious built heritage resources.

Brian Anthony Past executive director, National Trust for Canada; Toronto

Take charge

Re “A new kind of affordable housing in B.C.” (Editorial, Feb. 21): The most compelling observation here is the reference to a non-profit organization being responsible for building and renting affordable housing on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. Putting a non-profit in charge of housing the homeless is precisely why the Y-Foundation in Finland has been so successful.

May every municipality in Canada take note.

Andrew Lumsden Ottawa

Take stand

Re “Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says he is against transgender women in female spaces” (Feb. 22): I am appalled and disgusted by the recent terror campaign being waged against transgender people, and especially against transgender youth.

I am a lifelong cross-dresser as well as a philosophy professor. I taught gender theory for years, counselled gender-diverse students and worked with York University to be more inclusive and accepting of young trans people and staff.

Anyone who has spent any time at all examining gender theory knows that defining precisely who or what is a woman or a man, female or male, is virtually impossible. Don’t believe me? Ask the International Olympic Committee, they’ve been struggling with it for years without success.

I truly fear the consequences of these attacks on young people. Trans youth already have a suicide and suicide ideation rate far higher than cis youth.

Do not think for a moment that these draconian actions cannot result in serious harm. I know they will.

Michael Gilbert Toronto

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