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Government of Canada public pensions web page.The Canadian Press

Don’t count on it

Re “Humans are destroying the only home they have. Canada can help save it by shutting down the tar sands” (Opinion, Nov. 25): Simple math shows that annual carbon emissions from the oil sands (81 million tons) as a percentage of worldwide annual carbon output (36.8 billion tons) is a fairly negligible 0.22 per cent.

Even with rose-coloured glasses on, I just can’t see that being Canada’s saviour. Let’s stop dreaming and instead try and find some real-life solutions.

Cam Kourany Kelowna, B.C.

Better care

Re “The way we pay for long-term care needs a fundamental rethink” (Nov. 23): There is another option that is sadly often overlooked: respite care. Facilities that allow caregivers to get well-needed rest are a godsend, but unfortunately they are few and far between.

In my location, Acclaim Health has a facility with day programs and overnight care called Patty’s Place, named after a local doctor living with early onset dementia. In many cases, respite care can reduce the number of people waiting for long-term beds.

If I had had the option of getting a week’s, or even a few nights’, respite in a place where my husband was well looked after, I would never have had to admit him to long-term care.

Elizabeth Thompson Oakville, Ont.

Last year, Ontario awarded 31,705 long-term bed licences. This is the largest expansion of long-term care in Ontario’s history.

Without this funding, we would not be able to address our 150-plus waiting list. We are fortunate to receive more than $20-million in upfront equity from the province (coincidentally matching our donor fundraising total), which has enabled construction to start on our new 160-resident home.

George Horhota Board chair, Ivan Franko Homes Mississauga

As usual, we boomers have upset the apple cart with our sheer size.

Care costs will cause serious pain as we squeeze through a system not built to accommodate our numbers. But for 40 years, tax revenue from our unprecedented productivity has financed the most generous government programs in Canadian history. We have punched our ticket, and then some.

But in the interest of not leaving a legacy of bitterness and jealousy, we should institute a solution. Most boomers will leave a sizable estate; we are an industrious generation. Upon our demise, hit us up for a portion of care costs via an estate tax. A levy on our wealth, at death, would more than cover long-term care and might even return something to the current generation.

We will always be in the shadow of our parents, the greatest generation, but at least we will have paid our way.

Ken Johnston Ottawa

Claw back Old Age Security more aggressively, so that no one whose income exceeds the national average receives it, then apply the savings to long-term care. Such a mechanism places the burden exactly where it should be: on the affluent and elderly.

There is a drawback, of course: They vote, and politicians know it.

David Allen London, Ont.

Take it back

Re “Subsidies to rich seniors make no sense” (Editorial, Nov. 24): Canada’s retirement income system has traditionally rested on three pillars: Old Age Security, the Canada Pension Plan and workplace pensions. Together they have worked reasonably well to lower poverty and provide reasonable incomes in retirement.

But workplace pensions now cover very few private-sector workers, while individual Canadians often under-save in registered retirement savings plans. A partial response has been to phase in a modest increase in CPP benefits. But OAS remains an important building block for decent retirement incomes for the broad middle class.

OAS income is already taxable, so those with higher incomes get a lower benefit. In this instance, what is working reasonably well should be left alone.

Andrew Jackson Former chief economist, Canadian Labour Congress Ottawa

I wonder why universality continues to be a sacred cow. We should end it in payments from Canada’s social welfare safety net.

In the case of the Canada Pension Plan, sure, everyone who works pays into the plan. However, I’d argue that doing so is akin to paying for insurance on a home or car: Some people who pay premiums never need to cash in. It should be the same with CPP.

It makes no sense to me to continue sending CPP cheques to Canadians who already are comfortably well off. Far better that government spending be reduced, or the money saved be channelled to those who really need it.

An extra few hundred dollars each month could make a world of difference to the many low-income seniors who struggle to make ends meet.

Ken Cuthbertson Kingston

My best argument as to why young people should vote is Old Age Security.

I believe OAS is a blatant bribe to old people, who are far more given to voting than any other age group.

I am a senior citizen. I get OAS. Do I need it? No, I am financially comfortable.

What do I do with the money? Well, I’ve had renovations done and it has been a full year for travel.

Yes, there are poor elderly. Want to help them? Raise the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

Young people should get angry about the huge waste of OAS and take that anger to the ballot box. Maybe then, some of what is wasted on well-off seniors can be redirected to help them get a home or raise children.

Jack Hanna Ottawa

Against hate

Re “How Canadians feel about the Israel-Hamas war, according to new survey” (Opinion, Nov. 25): A recent poll shows that more Canadians are concerned that the current conflict will spread into other areas in the Middle East (87 per cent) than they are that it will lead to an increase in hate incidents in Canada (69 per cent). This surprises me.

Does this mean that almost 1 in 3 Canadians aren’t aware of threats at Jewish schools and mosques? Or do they think that frightening children in this way is the norm, and it may get worse?

I don’t mean to minimize the importance of asking questions about how Canada can help internationally, but how many respondents are in a position to impact negotiations for a two-state solution? Where were the questions – and answers – about how we want to create a civil society?

Everyone can be an ally against hate.

Heather Shapiro Toronto

Editor’s note: Due to an editing error, annual carbon emissions from the oil sands as a percentage of worldwide annual carbon output was calculated as 0.0022 per cent. It is 0.22 per cent.

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