Rather than eliminate a long-standing tax break that favoured credit unions, Ottawa could have levied a super-profits tax on the big banks, just as Australia has implemented on its biggest mining companies (Credit Unions Get Feisty With Big 6 – Report on Business, March 25). Canadian banks – the country's six largest lenders made $30-billion profit last year – don't need to have their credit-union competitors weakened.
Ashley Dermer, Vancouver
Mind the skills gap
I'm glad to see that CEOs agree on the importance of skills training (Executives See Training, Immigration As The Key To Strong Economy – Report on Business, March 25). The question is: What are CEOs doing about it within their own businesses? Government involvement is required, but taxpayers should not bear the load for what businesses want. Too many Canadians (university and college trained) have the wrong skill set and/or too high expectations, and end up working as unskilled labourers. Too many new immigrants with high-end skills are delegated to the same fate as our young grads.
What ever happened to the concept of entry-level jobs, on-site training, long-term employment and career advancement within? If every business started paying a fair share for education, training and mentoring to involve Canadians, including existing immigrants, perhaps employers would have the skills they require.
The feds need a plan, which will take time to work out and implement, but they also need to direct corporations that the free ride is over (or should be shortly).
John Sek, Fort Erie, Ont.
Canada has relied on immigrants since the 1960s for skilled trades recruitment, but it's time we had a comprehensive and unified training program across Canada for all trades. A welder in Ontario, for example, needs to have the same training as a welder in Alberta, so that tradespeople have the opportunity to move within Canada for job opportunities. Such is not the case now.
Although various associations have been lobbying the government for some time, it has fallen on deaf ears until recently. Let's hope we see action soon. We should invest in our youth for the long term, not take the easy way out by counting on immigrants to fill the skilled-trades gap. With young university graduates struggling to find their way into meaningful jobs, "best in class" skilled-trades training programs should be a top priority. It's a no-brainer for reducing unemployment, and for filling skilled-trades job vacancies.
Elaine Slatter, Burlington, Ont.
The national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada writes that the reason federal employees use so many sick days is not that they are abusing the sick-leave system, but that they do not wish to spread diseases (PSAC Responds – letters, March 25 ). He then goes on to speak rather slightingly of these same viruses, claiming that they "don't care about silly human debates" over various issues.
Please. One must not underestimate these bugs. They seem all too aware of human activity and, indeed, seem quite bright. They certainly know how to read calendars, and what Fridays, Mondays and pre-holiday days are. At such times, they seem quite capable of co-ordinating their attacks with chilling efficiency.
Robert Cairns, Cobourg, Ont.
I understand the calculated shrewdness of panda politics and Chinese access to Canada's natural resources, so I have one question: Where is the cheering section for Canada's own endangered species (Pandas To Get Star Treatment At Touchdown In Toronto – March 25)?
In Canada, clear-cutting has removed or affected more than 60 per cent of the habitat of the woodland caribou. Migrating whooping cranes are threatened. Ottawa and Alberta have prepared a joint monitoring plan for species at risk that does not prevent habitat destruction. China's focus on oil-sands expansion will factor into the continuing destruction of the boreal forest and associated vulnerable species.
Yet, Canada will indulge willingly in the public-relations ploy of protecting two pandas. What do we need for the Red Earth caribou herd to be politically sexy?
Vicki Hotte, Kettleby, Ont.
The Globe states that, in the past six years, at least 50,000 people have died in Mexico at the hands of brutal cartels, and that the atrocities committed by those same cartels are similar to those found in war zones (A War That Is Not Just An Internal Matter – editorial, March 25). Our federal government has recently removed Mexican refugee claimants' access to formal appeals, putting our economic interests ahead of asylum seekers' and deporting people to a country where they face real danger.
Recently, a Mexican family whose young children attended the same elementary school as my sons was deported back to Mexico. The father of these children was a police officer whose life had been threatened by a drug cartel. All appeals, including those made by a local church, were ignored because Canada deems Mexico a "safe" country.
I wish you would extend your outrage beyond the violence in Mexico, which Canada can do little about, and extend it to our own government's refusal to protect those who are escaping a real war.
Karin Bjornson, Montreal
Egg farmers respond
Barrie McKenna suggests supply-managed farmers aren't innovative or efficient (Canada's Supply-Managed Stranglehold – Report on Business, March 23).
Just look at the grocery shelf to see that the reverse is true. For example, Canada leads the world in specialty eggs, including organic, vitamin-fortified and free-range alternatives. And there is just as much variety in chicken and turkey.
Last week, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz recognized Chicken Farmers of Canada for its industry-leading, on-farm safety-assurance program, reflecting the whole supply-managed sector's commitment to improving safety. And, in the past year, two new poultry-processing plants have come on stream in Atlantic Canada, representing an investment of about $90-million. All supply-managed stakeholders invest in our sector on an ongoing basis.
The stability of supply management allows farmers and processors to reinvest with world-leading research, innovation and food safety.
Peter Clarke, chair, Egg Farmers of Canada
Re Supplier Insists It Stuck To Lululemon Design (Report on Business, March 20): After reading the story about Lululemon's stretchy yoga pants being too sheer, I had to wonder whether the writer, Marina Strauss, had her tongue ever so slightly in cheek when she noted in the final paragraph "the effect the problems will have on Lululemon's bottom line …"
Pip Wedge, Toronto