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Government of Canada public pensions web page on Jan. 9, 2018.The Canadian Press

To the left

Re “Right stuff” (Letters, Nov. 26): In response to a letter-writer wondering when we’ll respect the democratic will of the people, I think he should ask the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency about every democratically elected left-wing government it has ever overthrown.

Jan Goh Penticton, B.C.

Next up

Re “Doctor in the house?” (Letters, Nov. 25): My experience of five years in family practice, followed by a five-year residency and then almost 40 years as a general surgeon, coupled with a concurrent 30 years teaching at a Canadian medical school, has convinced me that the majority of work of family physicians can be safely and competently performed by properly trained nurse-practitioners.

What would be required is a paradigm shift in the mindset of the general population. I do not believe it is necessary to consult a physician for the myriad medical issues that are dealt with every hour of every day by family doctors; the extensive and elaborate training to become a family physician in Canada goes far beyond what is required to be competent in primary care.

This would alleviate the physician shortage, and at the same time reduce the stress and burnout of family physicians, despite a somewhat reduced income. A win-win for everyone.

Morton Doran CM; MD, FRCSC; Fairmont, B.C.

Not so much

Re “Subsidies to rich seniors make no sense” (Editorial, Nov. 24): Old Age Security is set up as a universal benefit just like health care, education, child benefits, etc. Would you have wealthier seniors cut off from these benefits as well?

Under current rules, the government cannot refuse to pay OAS in full. What it does is recoup the payments by application of a special tax specific to OAS.

But even before any special taxes are levied to recoup OAS, a big chunk is already recovered under the regular income tax system. Increasing the OAS clawback, then, would not be as big a cash cow as it would seem.

Brian Swinney Burlington, Ont.

Mixed signals

Re “Bell Canada seeks appeal of network sharing decision by CRTC” and “Wireless prices are falling. Timely and cost-effective spectrum auctions will sustain that trend” (Report on Business, Nov. 17): I consider myself neither a fan of nor an advocate for Canadian telecommunications providers. Nevertheless, the government should be considerate of the conundrum caused by competing policies.

I believe lowering consumer prices is at odds with spectrum auctions that seek to maximize revenue. A federal mandate to have high-speed networks across the vast Canadian landscape does not come cheaply.

I witnessed the latter: A team of at least 25 people stringing fibre-optic cable around the lake where my cottage is situated. There are fewer than 70 cottages. There can be no economic rationale for using significant resources to benefit so few, other than by spreading the costs of competing policy objectives among all Canadians.

If a company has to pay these costs, and be expected to provide competitors access to this infrastructure at less than competitive rates, is it any wonder that Bell seeks leave to appeal the regulator’s decisions?

Kevin Lengyell Toronto

In crisis

Re “Crisis hotlines, like Canada’s new 988, promise confidentiality. So why do so many trace calls and texts?” (Opinion, Nov. 18): When I launched the campaign to bring 988 to Canada in 2019, I saw an innovation with great potential to save lives. I also saw the risk when authorities are dispatched during those calls.

The concerns raised – that conversations and texts can, unknown to a caller, be directed to 911 if a counsellor thinks suicide is likely – break the element of trust that is essential for crisis lines. 988 was to provide an alternative to 911 in times of mental-health crisis.

The 911 system has a history of unintended harm and death in such situations. That prospect is a major concern of surviving families, who often feel their lived experience is not appreciated by Canada’s mental-health elite.

It is a sad indictment of our mental-health system that some experts believe the risks of 988 might outweigh its good. That was a prospect I was hoping would be avoided.

Kathleen Finlay Toronto

I once spent three years as a volunteer for a crisis centre and suicide hotline. I remain 100-per-cent confident that I not only did good work, but there continues to be important work being done there and at other centres like it.

A demand for hotlines is a sad reflection of the world in which we live. That the very fabric of society seems to be thinning seems obvious to me and many others.

Sure, we should all do a better job of listening to and taking care of one another. I couldn’t agree more. But to say that “we must stop advising people to call crisis hotlines” is, in my view, grossly irresponsible, ignorant and plain wrong.

There are a lot of desperate people for whom a crisis hotline may well be a last resort; I have dealt with more than my share. These centres fulfill a vital need.

Finn O’Brien Porters Lake, N.S.

Too far?

Re “Buffy Sainte-Marie pushes against doubts over Indigenous ancestry” (Nov. 24): I believe a hyper-focus on ethnic fraud hurts Indigenous people more than it helps.

The recent exposure of Buffy Sainte-Marie as a “pretendian,” as well as several other similar incidents in recent years, seems to draw a lot of ire from Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike.

As a Mi’kmaq person, I do see the value in weeding out ethnic fraudsters from professional and public roles. However, I’m worried that placing too much emphasis on proving identity may lead to a culture that isn’t conducive to flourishing and growth for Indigenous people.

While I do support freedom of speech and inquiry, I look to our original teachings about love, respect and humility for guidance. I have nothing to prove to anyone.

Derek Kapala London, Ont.

Ding dong

Re “Porch thefts set to ramp up with holiday season fast approaching” (Report on Business, Nov. 28): Delivery services could cut down the number of parcels stolen from porches by simply ringing doorbells.

As retirees, we are home most of the time, but live on a busy street and do not always notice a delivery. If the bell is rung, we know to go look.

Despite a large sign on our door that requests the bell be rung, not all delivery services bother to do this. We have lost packages as a result.

Diana Rowles Victoria

I can’t understand why specifying the requirement of a signature is not an option with Amazon deliveries, as not all packages enjoy a shipping option to a post office or locker. Then if no one is home, a package can be securely picked up at an associated depot.

This is the time-honoured way of preventing porch thefts.

V.J. Dartnell Vancouver

Fair comment

Re “Ways to have your say: An update on Comments, and answering a question about Letters” (Nov. 25): I love scanning and sometimes participating in your online forums, particularly because they are moderated. I often tell friends and colleagues that this is one of the top benefits of a Globe subscription.

Keep up the great work.

Rob Bakos Vancouver

More wiggle

Re “Wiggle room” (Letters, Nov. 25): Well, somebody has to speak up for the poor, maligned jellied salad.

Arriving from Britain many years ago, I too thought it odd to mix a sweet dish with dinner. However a dear old lady, from a generation much before mine, gave me a recipe which has appeared at my Christmas dinner for the last 50 years.

It is green in colour, yes, but contains celery, apples and nuts – and leftovers are fought over.

Alison Kyba Guelph, Ont.

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