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Katie Telford, chief of staff to the Prime Minister, waits to appear as a witness at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs looking at foreign interference, on April 14, in Ottawa.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Said and done

Re “Big moment of Telford’s testimony brings small answers on foreign interference” (April 15): Why on earth did the Liberals fight so hard to prevent Katie Telford from testifying, when I heard her say absolutely nothing of any consequence?

Gordon Foy Burnaby, B.C.

In consultation

Re “Ottawa didn’t disclose $146-million CEBA contract with Accenture” (April 6): It is important that taxpayers have transparency, and critical that government does not overpay for services. At the same time, we find that opposition politicians are using management consultants and international firms as scapegoats to attack government, without understanding the value of the support consultants regularly add.

The role of the public service is to serve the public. When that requires outside assistance, government should be encouraged to use management consultants. Transparent frameworks and fiscal accountability are also critical.

Hiring experts to do what they do best shouldn’t be shameful. It’s unproductive to expect that slashing budgets for consultants would not lead to worse outcomes in project development and delivery.

The management consulting profession is much deeper than headlines suggest and should be treated as such. A second set of eyes on policy, along with experienced extra hands in program delivery, can improve the results governments achieve across Canada.

Donna Ringrose Executive director, CMC-Canada; Aylmer, Que.

Whose benefit?

Re “Well defined” (Letters, April 17): It’s great that a letter-writer recommends indexed pensions for everyone. But indexed pensions tend to be tied to defined benefit plans and, in our time, they tend to be limited to civil servants, health care, education and a few major corporations.

The majority of Canadians, if covered by a pension, have defined contribution plans. They are calculated on the basis of interest rates at the time of retirement and do not contain provisions for indexing.

I believe that we will see an income crisis in the future as more and more people retire with inadequate pension arrangements. If I have one regret from my career, it is the role I played in moving some organizations from defined benefit plans to defined contribution.

David Wartman FCMC, Calgary

Re “France is having a pension crisis. Why isn’t Canada?” (Report on Business, April 14): I collect Old Age Security. I fully agree that the clawback threshold should be lower, even though it would negatively impact me.

There are more important things to do with tax dollars than give it to seniors who do not need it. Give it to seniors who really do need it, health care, the deficit, the military, First Nations – the list is not short.

Politicians are more likely to attract my vote if they stop giving money to seniors who are not in financial need.

Ira Greenblatt Ottawa

There is no way a couple with earnings of $160,000 should be getting full payments of Old Age Security. They should be getting $0.

The billions saved could go to supports for those who desperately need it.

Bruce Henry Waterloo, Ont.

A far more significant crisis, in my view, is the abandonment of private-sector employers from the sponsorship of quality workplace pensions.

It was Canadian business leaders who argued against a bigger Canada Pension Plan in the early 1960s. They said it was but one solution; another was the growing presence of workplace pensions.

Business won that argument. But in the early 1980s, companies began terminating quality defined benefit pensions for the bulk of the work force.

Business cannot take a pass on the need for workable lifetime income programs for Canadians.

Paul Moist Winnipeg

Long view

Re “Ottawa and Ontario just don’t get it: We need a lot more LTC beds” (Editorial, April 14): I, a senior, did the math, but came to different conclusions.

First, for-profit corporations should not run care homes. Their primary responsibility is to shareholders. Twenty for-profit homes would rather not renew their licenses in 2025 to leverage real estate assets for greater profit and to avoid costly upgrades.

Second, no one buys life insurance on their deathbed. We ought to have a system similar to the Canada Pension Plan, under which people and employers pay into a fund to support seniors in the community (and only in long-term care if necessary). This would take the burden of costs off government.

With proper care, we might be able to reduce the number of beds needed for long-term care. As a senior, I would do almost anything – diet, exercise, meditate, etc. – to avoid winding up in long-term care.

Moses Shuldiner Toronto

We can reduce demand for long-term care by keeping seniors in their own homes longer.

Naturally occurring retirement communities are a new concept being piloted in various Ontario communities and elsewhere. NORCs are grassroots initiatives where residents of apartment buildings, condos or neighbourhoods organize and co-ordinate shared support services, so that seniors can remain in their communities longer.

A minimal amount of government support for these initiatives would delay needs for long-term care and save bundles of tax dollars in the process.

Murray Angus Ottawa

How much more vulnerable can residents in long-term care become?

The Canadian Association of Retired Persons has been proposing the implementation of innovative models of long-term care, regardless of whether a home is for-profit, non-profit, charitable or municipally operated. Several homes in Ontario have successfully done just that on their own initiative.

The sudden loss of for-profit homes could not have come at a more dreadful time, when thousands of beds are needed. And many homes have not yet recovered from the horrific impact of the pandemic.

Has the time finally come to create a new formula that separates ownership and delivery of care, as recommended by the Ontario government’s independent commission on long-term care in 2021?

Claude Paul Boivin Chair, CARP Ottawa Chapter

Pushing for more beds in long-term care is a call for even more institutionalization and warehousing of older vulnerable Canadians.

Most European countries have much lower rates of institutionalization than Canada, and better outcomes for individuals and families. The United States also has a Money Follows the Person program, where people have funds to choose where they want to live. Not surprisingly, more and more Americans are choosing community options.

We should learn from other countries and stop massive institutionalization. Did we learn nothing from the pandemic disaster in long-term care?

John Lord Waterloo, Ont.

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