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The exterior of the Cambie Surgery Centre is pictured in Vancouver, on Nov. 18, 2019.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

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Off the rails

Re There Is No Plan B When It Comes To Rail-service Interruptions (Report on Business, Nov. 25): Contributor Bob Masterson’s opinion is that the Canadian government should intervene in the strike at Canadian National Railway, because there is no alternative to rail for the transport of chemicals. I believe the strike is a failure of CN management, who bear responsibility for the company.

If the private sector cannot run a rail system, then perhaps the government should nationalize CN. In that way, it would bear the whole responsibility for the rail system, not just when the private sector fails at the job.

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Manuel Buchwald Toronto


Re The CN Strike And Our Ensuing Winter Of Discontent (Nov. 25): It would seem that most of the country is being held for ransom by a small group of union members. Considered alongside the increasing alienation of Canada’s Western provinces, it would also seem that the government has a unique opportunity to address both issues by legislating these workers back to work. Our Western farmers would be able to ship their grain and the East would receive their much needed propane. It is time to be proactive and demonstrate some much-needed leadership.

Bob Griffin Picton, Ont.


Many opinions concerning the CN rail strike seem intent on urging the government to pass back-to-work legislation. Instead, we should urge CN management to negotiate safe and fair working conditions for its employees.

CN can afford it; its revenues in 2018 were up by 9.9 per cent to a record $14.3-billion. We have seen the disastrous effects of overwork and long hours in the rail system in Canada. CN management is failing to do its job, not government.

Kate Lawson Kitchener, Ont.

Teachers rule

Re Elementary School Teachers Union Says It Will Begin Job Action On Nov. 26 (Nov. 15): Work to rule is actually impossible. Teachers may stop volunteering, but they are not about to stop everything extra. Some will stop buying food for students, some will stop bringing extra clothing. But no teacher will stop worrying about their students, finding ways to help them succeed. Teachers are committed to their students and work to rule will not change that.

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People do not become teachers to get rich. They dedicate their lives to public education to enrich. Teachers fight to fix problems in education for their students, not themselves.

Is it time to shift the fight back to parents? Parents can tell our provincial governments that they don’t accept poor teaching conditions, that they demand the best for their children. Parents could force them to create the best education systems in the world. Teachers can continue to fight for students’ rights – but if we choose teachers, let’s make it part of the job description.

Joshua LaFleur Teacher, Airdrie, Alta.

Health-care deliberations

Re Private Health Care Is On Trial. It Needs To Win (Nov. 22): Columnist Gary Mason refers to the doctor Brian Day as “the renowned champion of a healthcare universe that respects individual freedoms.” The only individuals who have such freedom to access private clinics are the affluent in our society. Those with less wealth cannot do so unless they care to incur substantial financial hardship.

Any expansion of a two-tiered system of health care is likely to have two consequences. The first is that the affluent would indeed have more timely access to treatment, but this would be at the cost of reducing health-care access to those who cannot afford to pay to play, as it were. The second consequence is that existing health inequalities in this country would be exacerbated further.

Let’s not confound individual freedom with privilege.

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William R. Avison PhD, FCAHS, professor emeritus, University of Western Ontario; Thornbury, Ont.


Gary Mason’s column furthers Brian Day’s argument that private clinics would ease the lengthy wait times patients endure for various services. However, my own experience is that these doctors do not necessarily provide equal access to all patients. With some dermatologists, for example, they would understandably rather make more money providing higher fee cosmetic services. But that means medical patients wait longer for service from these dual practitioners.

In my mind, wait times seem to be a justification for greatly increasing the incomes of some doctors. My solution is for them to move to the United States, where they would be free to engage in billing as they see fit.

I want to continue to live in Canada, where middle-income earners don’t have to declare bankruptcy or sell their homes if someone in the family is ill.

Faye Samson Richmond, B.C .


I could not disagree more with columnist Gary Mason. The evidence shows that private health care drains practitioners away from the universal system and everyday people like me would lose out. What we do need is a clear-eyed overhaul of the public system by people who have the courage to make the required changes.

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People have been socialized by and large to be passive recipients of care instead of active participants. There are far too many tests, procedures and drugs being prescribed without knowing whether this approach fits with the recipients’ own goals. My husband had many years of heart disease, treated medically and surgically. His care was outstanding. But when one senior has 11 specialists involved in his ongoing health care – something is wrong with this approach.

Nancy Simpson RN (retired), Mississauga


Intervenors in the universal health-care case involving Brian Day claim they are defending a system where everyone is covered, everyone is treated equally and no one goes broke.

I would dispute the equally bit. I am always amazed at the swift medical attention received by professional athletes, politicians and other folk of influence. I waited almost three months for surgery to repair a bucket handle tear of the meniscus in my knee. The pain and lack of mobility were significant issues. Obtaining an MRI in a timely manner was the bottleneck.

Knowing what I know now, I would have gladly visited Dr. Day’s Cambie Surgery Centre.

James Beath Peterborough, Ont.

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Out of joint

Re Cannabis Companies Taking Desperate Steps To Raise Funds (Report on Business, Nov. 18): I wonder how many other investors fell for the emergent legal cannabis business? The one where various levels of government had the elimination of the black market as their stated goal in introducing a regulated marketplace. I sure felt fooled when I invested in credible new entrants with excellent operational capabilities and good prospects for success – were they actually allowed to compete.

Now I’m not sure what the regulators actually intend, but it doesn’t seem to include convenience, competitive pricing or products users actually want. I’m rethinking it now: How does one invest in the biker gangs?

Ross Peacock Woodbridge, Ont.


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