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Chicken is still the cheapest choice

Re Nothing to crow about: Why Canada's chicken pricing is unfair (Nov. 24): The headline written for Barrie McKenna's column is clever, but the piece itself hunts and pecks for spurious arguments and suggests that chicken is costing the consumer some big buck-buck-bucks. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Just look at the Consumer Price Index: In the past year, beef rose by 19.4 per cent, pork rose by 14.4 per cent and chicken rose by only 2.7 per cent. In the past two years, beef prices rose by 23.1 per cent, pork rose by 18.1 per cent, and chicken? Well, again, it only rose by 5.1 per cent. Chicken is consistently the best value in the meat counter.

To Mr. McKenna's contention that the farm price drives retail price, it is illuminating to note that in the past year, the live price of chicken has declined 1.6 per cent and over the past two years it is down a huge 9.9 per cent.

This includes passing benefits from improved efficiencies in 2012 and 2013.

Farm prices going down while retail prices are going up supports what we have said all along – the $1.63 per kilogram earned by farmers is fair and does not determine what consumers pay for chicken. The biggest determinant of consumer price is where and when you shop.

This fantasy, where supply management is dismantled and savings are instantly passed on to consumers, is just that: a fantasy. All dismantlement does is threaten the sustainability of the Canadian chicken industry and the direct benefits it provides to Canada and to Canadians.

Mike Dungate, executive director, Chicken Farmers of Canada

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Guaranteed travel coverage not likely

Re 'Million-dollar baby' travel horror story prompts caution (Nov 20): The travel health insurance industry will not be able to provide guaranteed coverage for travellers until such time as they underwrite their clients in advance of travel.

Currently, availability of coverage is determined at the time of a claim.

Life and casualty companies are able to underwrite coverage in advance of purchase because of the long-term relationship with their client and their ability to recover the cost of investigating the insurability of their applicants. The administration cost of underwriting a travel insurance risk would make the cost of purchasing travel health insurance beyond the reach of most applicants.

Currently, the best way to protect oneself against a claim denial is to have your family physician review the application and make sure the answers to the medical questionnaire conform with his records. A quick review of the stability of your medications with your pharmacy would also be desirable. One might also consider showing the policy contract to their lawyer to review, in particular, the exclusion section.

Murray Katzman, Toronto

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Article leads to literacy collaboration

Re Retired lawyer gives Tanzanian girls and women a boost (Nov. 22): Great article by Paul Waldie on the work of Ottawa-based Arlene McKechnie and her TEMBO team in Tanzania! Not only does this article focus on some of the good news emerging from Africa, but it also helps to strengthen related networks seeking to promote sustainable development in African communities.

As a team member of the African Storybook Project, which draws on digital technology to promote early literacy in Africa, we are constantly seeking partners who share our educational vision.

TEMBO and the African Storybook Project are now connected, and we look forward to productive collaboration in the future.

Bonny Norton, Vancouver

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