I am certain that many regional health boards and governments will quickly congratulate themselves on their ranking in your health-care evaluation (“The Macleans Health Report,” Cover, June 7). However, the credit belongs to the frontline health-care workers who dedicated themselves to their patients and persevered despite the despairing conditions imposed upon them by these same bureaucracies.
Dr. Elise Gignac, Saskatoon
On the day that Macleans published its Health Report, the Alberta Medical Association released its special survey that told a much different story. More than 10,000 Albertans used the AMLA’s
Letters to the Editor
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survey to express their concerns about the lack of timely access to key healthcare services and the impact on their lives and those of their families. The Macleans report does not do enough to address the question that is of fundamental importance to Canadians: “Why can I not have timely access to quality care?”
Dr. Rowland T. Nichol, president, Alberta Medical Association, Edmonton
The Health Report reflects some aspects of what is predominantly an illness-treatment system. What Canadians want (and need) is accessibility to a broad range of health services. Your report is an important first step in the accountability process for health care. I hope subsequent reports will include information across the continuum of care, including hospitals, home care, long-term care and community care. Sharon Sholzberg-Gray, president, Canadian Flealthcare Association, Toronto
Your first-ever report card on health care, while interesting to the public, missed one of the most important factors in the health-care concerns of the population. That, of course, is the long waiting lists faced by everyone awaiting surgery or investigations. In Toronto, the wait for cataract surgery is often six to 12 months. Over a year can be spent awaiting hip or knee replacements. If that’s the situation in your second-place city, I hate to imagine what is happening in the towns ranked 16 or worse.
Dr. Shaun Singer, Toronto
How extraordinary and frightening that Edmonton (or any place in Alberta) would be ranked No. 1 in your health survey. The decimation of firstrate systems for ordinary citizens in health care, education and social services has been conducted with the wholehearted approval of large num-
Rushdie and religion
Salman Rushdie takes offence at John le Carre’s statement that he, Rushdie, should not presume that “great religions may be insulted with impunity” (“The revival of Salman Rushdie,” Publishing, May 24). By calling le Carré a “pompous jerk,” Rushdie is expressing the same kind of intolerance that caused him so much grief over the past 10 years. Perhaps Rushdie has not learned much from his experience. Le Carré is right. Religion evokes some of the deepest emotions possible in humanity and to mock a people’s religion and their God is to play fast and loose with some powerful beliefs and feelings. While Rushdie is free to believe or disbelieve what he wants, he should have shown respect for the beliefs of others.
Harry Kruisselbrink, Smithers, B.C.
bers of Albertans, whose insecurities, petty jealousies and societal myopia continue to tell them that “a bunch of them guys is gettin’ somethin’ for nothin’.”
Leigh Davies, High Prairie, Alta.
Middle East news
If Barbara Amiel finds coverage of Israeli matters distorted, she must be missing the many favourable Canadian media items dissecting in fine detail the minutiae of Israeli politics and life (“Hatred, Palestinian-style,” June 7). Amiel says that the Palestinians have not lived up to their side of the peace agreement. Two weeks ago, they arrested a top Hamas terrorist, but you’d never know it from reading the Canadian media, which ignored the event. There is enough hatred in the Middle East; what there is not enough of is unbiased coverage. We began the millennium with stateless Jews. It is hardly progress to end it with stateless Palestinians.
Bob McKercher, Toronto
I was quite confused by Barbara Amiel’s attack on Western media until I realized she was merely joking. What gave the joke away was that she was trying to convince the readers that the affluent, well-educated, well-organized,
internationally well-represented, nuclear-armed people of the state of Israel are somehow the “underdog” in a struggle against the poor, illiterate, haphazardly organized and represented, and rudimentarily armed people who live in the occupied territories.
Ziad Saad, Burnaby, B.C.
Diane Francis is wrong when she states that, according to “official figures,” in 1998 some 284 Hondurans were given refugee status in Vancouver compared with 132 the year before. The fact is 10 Honduran claims for refugee status were accepted in Vancouver in 1998 (six the year before). An informed discussion of immigration and refugee matters is not served by the use of inaccurate information.
Nurjehan Mawani, chairwoman, Immigration and Refugee Board, Ottawa
The problem is much worse than Diane Francis’s article implies. I am a Canadian who has worked and lived in the Middle East for five years. Every day, the major English-language newspapers of this region carry private ads with the general theme “Let us help you become a Canadian ... for a fee.” The fact that not one other country’s immigration policies have been lax enough to lead to this type of thriving unofficial business is proof of Canada’s gullibility and naïveté.
Don Brodeur, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates
Politics of selfishness
I sit in front of my computer in shock as I contemplate what we, as Ontarians, have become. We have just elected the Mike Harris Conservatives to a majority for a second term (“Restless voters,” Canada, June 7). A government that has gutted health care and education in this province, effectively ensuring that the wealthy can gain access much easier. A
government that has downloaded service costs to municipalities in order to fund a tax cut that benefits the people who need it least, causing the municipalities to raise their own taxes. I can’t help wondering how our vision became so narrow that we can see only what affects us personally.
H. Catharine Hamel, Embro, Ont.
The voters of Ontario have stood up to be counted. We want our slice of the American Dream. We are tired of second best. Genteel poverty just doesn’t cut it. Now, move your butt on tax cuts, Jean Chrétien.
Michael Helfinger, Toronto
Although you state actor Christopher Reeve may be the reigning champion of spinal-cord research (“Man of steely determination,” People, June 7), you should be aware of a Canadian champion doing his part. While Christopher Reeve was attending the Niagara Film Festival, our own John Ryan was making his cross-country tour, hand-cycling through Newfoundland on his way to British Columbia to raise funds for spinal-cord research. The John Ryan Regeneration Tour will be making its way across Canada to his home town of Whistler, where he certainly is our local hero.
Stephanie Murray, Whistler, B.C.
As a child, I always drew comparisons between my father and Superman, how much Superman resembled my dad. In 1995, when Reeve became paralyzed, I was heartbroken. I felt as if a part of my father had disappeared in that accident as, coincidentally, my parents decided to separate. But if you ask me, Reeve has definitely lived up to his fictional role of superhero. His positive outlook on a possible cure is not only inspiring to others in his position, but to his fans as well.
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