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Information picketers in Thunder Bay, Ont., on Dec. 9, 2012. (Brent Linton/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Information picketers in Thunder Bay, Ont., on Dec. 9, 2012. (Brent Linton/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

What readers think

Dec. 12: Doctors, teachers, hockey players – pick the real professionals, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Real professionals?

We have three groups in Ontario who call themselves professionals. Our doctors agreed to freeze their overall pay for two years to help our health-care system (Ontario Doctors Agree To Freeze Wages For Two Years – Dec. 10).

Our teachers were asked to freeze their wages for two years to help an overburdened educational system and responded by withdrawing all non-teaching activities, backed with one-day strikes (Teacher Tensions Hit Students – Dec. 11).

Our NHL players, who make far more than doctors and teachers, are not playing hockey. They are in a national dispute over money that may well last the entire season (League Wipes Out Games Until Dec. 31 – Sports, Dec. 11).

You judge: Which group is made up of the real professionals?

Bill Spall, Waterloo, Ont.


ABCs of rights

Yes, indeed, “throwing the kids under the [school] bus” is wrong. I’d like to ask Margaret Wente (Throw The Kids Under The Bus – Dec. 11) if she stays after work, a few hours every night, to coach young, would-be writers for free? Or if she is “expected” to come in an hour or so early every day, plus the odd weekend, again without pay, to get on top of administrative work?

If there were to be a pen and paper shortage at work, would she simply buy them from her own pocket (enough for her department), or would she rather hold a bake sale in the lobby?

Before anyone paints teachers as a group of greedy, militant unionists, they should try volunteering at a school.

Paul D. Bell, Woodville, Ont.


Why are extracurriculars “extra” in the first place? Who among us believes a good education comes solely from the classroom? If the government gives up anything in its current battle, it should get “extracurriculars” included as part of the job – and maybe change the name while they’re at it.

Jay Gould, Toronto


A photograph in Tuesday’s Globe and Mail showed teachers picketing a school while carrying signs calling for the public to “respect teachers” (Teacher Tensions Hit Students – Dec. 11). At the same time, they appear to be trampling on the democratic rights of students. Students do have “democratic rights,” don’t they?

Lloyd Gesner, Burlington, Ont.


Genetics, insurance

Re Do We Need Legislation To Protect Canadians’ Genetic Rights? (Dec. 11): Premiums for life and health insurance are based on an individual’s future risk. As such, insurers need to adjust their premiums based on factors such as the applicant’s age and overall health history. For example, if someone is a heavy smoker, they have an increased risk of dying prematurely and will, therefore, pay a higher premium. It wouldn’t be fair to expect non-smokers to pay the same price for life insurance coverage.

The industry’s policy on genetic testing is that insurers do not require an applicant to undergo genetic testing but, if such testing has been done and the information is available to the applicant for insurance, then the insurer would request access to that information just as it would for other aspects of the applicant’s health history. This is the fairest route for all policy holders.

Frank Zinatelli, vice-president and general counsel, Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association


A family’s choice

Your editorial (Between Medicine And Morals – Dec. 11) quotes Jocelyn Downie, the Canada Research Chair in health law and policy at Dalhousie University: “The allocation of scarce resources is a moral issue.”

I cannot help but wonder, if a patient’s family had to pay, would they still insist on continuing life support, regardless of costs? It is highly unfair to other patients who could benefit from the resources devoted to someone doctors consider to be beyond help.

Perhaps, in such cases, “free” health care should cease. Families could then fund the care if they so choose.

Irene Fung, Mississauga


A nurse’s death

The Australian DJs who played that unspeakably cruel joke on the unsuspecting nurses at London’s King Edward VII Hospital were guilty of highly irresponsible behaviour. They deserve to pay the price for their recklessness (Fallout From Nurse’s Death Keeps Mounting – Dec. 11). That said, I can’t help but wonder who the real villains are in this tragedy. Time to look in the mirror.

If not for the media's hyperinflated, irrational and pointless interest in the Royal Family, and the public’s mindless veneration of those same folks (one feeds the other), I suspect DJs would find more productive uses for their time. The paparazzi could go back to chasing movie stars and rap artists, and the world would be a saner place.

Ken Cuthbertson, Kingston


The Australian pranksters say they have been “gutted” by the tragic outcome – perhaps “guttered” might be a better outcome.

Ian Guthrie, Ottawa


Diaoyutai Islands

Contrary to what the Minister of the Embassy of Japan, Hitoshi Ozawa, writes (Senkaku Islands – letters, Dec. 7), the Diaoyutai Islands, which Japan calls the Senkaku Islands, constitute an inherent part of the sovereign territory of the Republic of China (Taiwan), whether judged in terms of geography, geology, historical evidence or international law.

Mr. Ozawa declared that Japan acquired the islands based on the principle of terra nullius (land without owner). Historical records show that the islands were discovered, named, owned and used by the Chinese for centuries before Japan annexed them during a cabinet meeting on Jan. 14, 1895. It was not until after the Second World War that this cabinet decision was revealed. The decision has not been accepted internationally.

Taiwan continues to express its willingness to negotiate with the Japanese government in accordance with methods of dispute settlements under the United Nations Charter and international law.

Chih-Kung Liu, representative, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office


Fiscal hum-along

Anthony Jenkins’s editorial cartoon character (Dec. 11) asks: “Hmm … what rhymes with ‘fiscal cliff’?”

To build on the original verse,

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain,

I offer:

While dashing to a fiscal cliff
With a Congress that’s quite insane,
It will dance about ’til disco stiff,
And little will be its gain …

Phillip S. Utting, Aurora, Ont.

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