Today’s letters: The Pope; child care; and our crumbling health system

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The only way forward is forgiveness

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As critics pull apart Pope Francis’s apologies, let us not forget that he is 85, has one lung, and can barely walk. Nevertheless he has made the gruelling trip in order to fulfil the request of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Meanwhile our prime minister — whose father, it should be mentioned, was among those continuing to allow the residential schools — has done little concrete to help First Nations communities, and seems bent on placing the burden of guilt on the Catholic Church.

The result: churches burned and vandalized across Canada, and woke journalists directing snide commentary at a man in a wheelchair. The evils of the past are not solved by giving vent to fresh hatreds. Pope Francis is right: the only way forward is through forgiveness.

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Benjamin O’Brien, Barry’s Bay

Will history ignore governments’ role?

So the Pope was in Canada apologizing for the church’s role in the so-called schools where Indigenous children were disgracefully abused. Let’s look at the governments of Canada during this period. Are we expected to believe these governments didn’t know what was happening, or did they choose to ignore it?

History will judge these priests and nuns harshly and that is how it should be, but will history ignore these many prime ministers and relevant government ministers for their lack of support to the children being abused and losing their identity?

John Piggott, Kanata

Demolishing uOttawa daycare is cruel

Re: Time running out for non-profit daycare. ’50 spots will disappear,’ July 27.

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I am appalled by the University of Ottawa’s cavalier attitude toward demolishing a daycare that provides spaces for its community, especially one that is committed to the $10/day program.

Doesn’t the university recognize that working women need safe, reliable daycare close to their work or home? Those 50 spots are desperately needed, especially the subsidized spaces.

It’s also sad that a building that dates only from 1987 is already being torn down. One has to question the planning process.

Grace Welch, Ottawa

Could we repurpose a government building?

The daycare at uOttawa serves a double purpose of helping single parents get an education to be able to contribute to society, and serving to attract educators who could work at the university.

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As the federal government has enabled Ontario to provide $10/day child care, and as many government offices in the downtown core are not as full as they were pre-COVID, would it be possible to repurpose any of the federal buildings close to the university to accommodate care for 100 children?

This would require cooperation between all levels of government to ensure that free rent for a daycare would continue, and early childhood caregivers could be educated in time to provide the quality of care children must be given.

Carolyn Herbert, Ottawa

Please fund health care appropriately

Re: Health-care system asks us to suck up our pain, July 22.

Rather than sucking up pain, I much prefer to solve the problems with Ontario’s health-care system. As columnist Brigitte Pellerin points out, those who are obliged to “suck up the pain” suffer the most.

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When one considers that successive Ontario governments have skimped on funding health care for about 30 years, it all adds up. We have invested less than the average of all Canadian provinces by about $500 per Ontario resident, and this was done by Conservative and Liberal governments.

Pellerin’s example of a youngster’s long wait for an ambulance has been matched over and over again in Ontario — a really bad example of a rich jurisdiction cheaping out on an essential service.

I prefer an appropriately funded public health-care system, as a marker of a decent society!

Nick Aplin, Ottawa

Needed: specialists in pain management

I support Brigitte Pellerin’s contention that pain is not well managed in the health system. It is pervasive and yet we have few resources allocated to pain treatment. I know about this from personal experience and would like to see us identify spaces in medical schools for those wishing to pursue a medical career specializing in pain management.

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It may not be the most sexy or scintillating medical specialty but to those in chronic pain, in particular, it is crucial to have assistance. Drugs do not do it for everyone and we now have addicts because the only solution for their intolerable pain was addictive drugs.

We have an aging population and pain often increases with age. We are in 2022, not 1822. Many smart students do not get accepted to attend medical school. Why not fund some of those students to pursue pain management specialities?

Ann Cuffley, Ottawa

Here’s what our health care has come to

After falling recently and having a gash on my elbow that will obviously not heal without stitches, I called my medical clinic to find out if it did sutures. I was met with quiet and confusion.  I was told the urgent care was full that day, and I should try other clinics or go to the emergency. I asked whether I could see someone another day. I was told that some doctors did sutures, some didn’t, and I would have to take my chances.

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This is where we’re at in Canada. One of the wealthiest countries, heavily taxed (you’re welcome), and I will have to take my chances, or go sit in emergency and clog up the system. I am honestly thinking of doing it myself. Amazon sells kits and I’ll take my “chances” without a tetanus shot. Or, I’ll pay a doctor to do it for me. Any takers?

Patrick Pinsonneaut, Ottawa

‘For profit’ care isn’t a villain

Re: For-profit firms have a place in long-term care, July 27.

For those who reflexively gnash their teeth at any mention of “for-profit,” I suggest you ask your family doctor on your next visit if they are “for-profit.”

Hopefully their answer helps you reflect just a tad beyond the them-versus-us mantra of “government always good and for-profit always bad.”

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Ian Stewart, Ottawa

Standards for private care inadequate

I’ve had the misfortune to have both my mother and husband in private long-term care. While there is an argument to be made about providing beds (where private just might trump public), providing care is quite another story.

It’s been my four-year experience that while private long-term care does provide care to “ministry standards,” that’s where it ends.

Even if residents who cannot feed themselves may have to wait over an hour to be fed, and cleaning, programming and maintenance staff have to backfill, we’re told that’s not a problem because these facilities meet “ministry standards” for staffing.

Even if residents who don’t have regular, or, in some cases, any visitors, or have not been outside for years, that’s not a problem because they meet “ministry standards” for staffing.

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Even if family have to hire their own caregivers to supplement the care needed by the resident, that’s not a problem because they meet “ministry standards” for staffing.

Even if staff don’t have the time to cut finger- and toenails after the resident’s two-times-a-week bath, and family have to pay for nail care from a private contractor, that’s not a problem because they meet “ministry standards” for staffing. And staff slog on and try the best they can while management looks at the bottom line.

Unless “ministry standards” are improved, care is nothing more than warehousing. And trying to advance the theory that private versus public had no impact on the number of lives lost during the pandemic? Tell that to the families and loved ones who experienced the direct impact of that — including my family, who lost our mother to COVID in May 2020, along with 47 other residents in the same facility.

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Selene Commerford, Orléans 

Tamara Lich was badly treated

Re: ‘Take those shackles off’: Tamara Lich released on bail, again, July 27.

There’s something scary when a circumstance such as Tamara Lich’s open and unthreatening support for the convoy can be the subject of such conflicting assessments by multiple justice officers, resulting in her being held in detention for an extended period before getting a new bail hearing. People who commit far more serious crimes are frequently released on bail with more limited assessments.

Thankfully, although it should never have been necessary, a Superior Court justice finally directed that she be released.

How the supposedly unbiased legal system can enable such differing opinions among multiple court officers is more than a little disturbing. Lich did not need to be treated like an extreme criminal and kept in custody for an extended period, as if she were some kind of terrorist.

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Bill Williams, Richmond

This person is a freedom fighter?

Tamara Lich, freedom fighter. Fought the government’s right to issue health mandates in a time of pandemic. Came to someone’s else’s city and flaunted her own freedom to attenuate the freedom of others who wanted to lead normal and peaceful lives in their own neighbourhood.

Wrote her own rules for her own freedom by disregarding the initial terms of her bail. Got a high-powered lawyer to get her released from custody so she could be on the front page of the newspaper of the very city where she was responsible for discord and mayhem. Big smile. Hugs and kisses.

Tamra Lich, freedom fighter. Right up there with the freedom fighters in Ukraine.

W.L. Gorman, Almonte

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Stay away in future, Ms. Lich

Perhaps if Tamara Lich and her partners had spoken with their lawyers before bringing the truckers’ convoy to Ottawa they would not have had all the problems they are now having. They brought this upon themselves by not educating themselves about the situation they eventually caused in downtown Ottawa.

We are a peaceful, democratic community and did not deserve the ruckus they caused. Please stay away from Ottawa and let this be a lesson to anyone else planning the same kind of demonstration.

Roger Webber-Taylor, Ottawa

Democracy: We all get one vote

Re: Ottawa councillors pan premier’s plan to make mayor strong in council decisions, July 21.

The prime minister only has one vote in Parliament. So why should the mayor have a special vote and veto power?

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Real power should be in the hands of council as a whole, with one vote per member, including the mayor. Giving more power to the mayor might help in delicate cases such as harassment or abuse of power, but those cases are relatively minimal.

The real danger lies in the mayor possibly exercising power corruptly. Democracy only works when decisions are spread amongst a group. That process can be painful and divisive at times, but that is called democracy. One person with power over others is called autocracy, or even worse: dictatorship.

Douglas Cornish, Ottawa

Why pick on left-wing candidates?

Re: More power to the mayor? It’s  a bad idea, July 26.

I absolutely agree with Randall Denley that more power for the mayor is a bad idea. Any politically skilful mayor could work with an uncooperative council and still prevail.

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However, Denley seems to exhibit a curious political bias when he said “Ford’s plan is a potential windfall” for left-wing mayoral candidates. Why only left-wing ones? I am pretty sure that right-wing mayoral candidates would benefit from, and masterfully take advantage of, such a “windfall.”

Dono Bandoro, Ottawa

Unfair to single out Catherine McKenney

Randall Denley is correct in observing that the plan announced by Premier Doug Ford to give Ottawa and Toronto mayors additional powers over their elected councils would be anti-democratic. He also rightly points out that the main current contenders for the Ottawa mayoralty have not embraced the idea.

So why does he see fit to single out Coun. Catherine McKenney as a likely candidate to abuse the power to bypass a majority on council on certain issues such as development? In particular, he describes McKenney as “left-wing” as if this includes some kind of inherent tendency towards abuse of power. Why wouldn’t the other leading contenders — including Mark Sutcliffe — not be similarly tempted to ignore council when it suits their purposes? Is it because Sutcliffe is not “left wing”? This loose labelling does nothing to forward the discussion and just reinforces the biases Denley and some readers hold.

We have had more opportunity to see and judge the true character of McKenney in their time on council than we have of an untested Mark Sutcliffe, so it is not fair to claim McKenney would be more inclined to abuse the Ford powers.

By the way, which side of the political spectrum is the proposal to increase the mayor’s powers coming from?

Marc Barnes, Ottawa

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