4 Mail Bag


May 26 2008
4 Mail Bag


May 26 2008


‘The article clearly shows how veterinary services far surpass the human medical system’


JUDGING BY ALL its problems, why are we not building a better health care system in Canada (“Need to see a specialist fast? Too bad you’re not a dog,” Health, May 12)? Could it be politics, plain and simple? You must realize that in Canada’s publicly funded health care system, most services are provided by privately run entities that, according to basic economics, profit from a shortage of supply. The problem is further compounded because such services are “free” to the individual, so the accountability factor is a wild card.

The article by Barbara Righton and Nicholas Köhler shows quite clearly how veterinary services far surpass the human medical system. It notes that in Canada we have some 10,800 vets, compared to 62,000 doctors, yet the level of services for animals is far better. Just look at the human payment system: it is a fee per visit, not a fee per problem that indirectly rewards inefficiency. For decades, country people have joked that when they get sick, they visit their animal vet. That might be the right way to go.

Caesar J. B. Squitti, Thunder Bay, Ont.

FOR MANY YEARS my pets have received excellent and timely care, including house calls, from the Cat Clinic in Hamilton. Some time ago my cat required a thyroid test. Blood was drawn and the following day I received the results by telephone. If only I could have had the same speedy turnaround time for my human patients!

Dr. K. A Ockenden, Hamilton

IT IS HARDLY surprising that the veterinary medical system, unencumbered by the need to be an instrument of every government’s social policy and freed by the simple practice of exchange of services for fees, has been able to do what our state health care system has not: practise medicine.

I have seen first hand in my growing community of Ajax, Ont., what the future of medicine will be for us two-legged patients. Here, the Ontario government is closing a mental health ward that has serviced our community for years. The announcement was made jointly by the hospital board and a new layer of health care bureaucracy called the Local Health Care Integration Network. Both groups claim that this is a “consolidation” for “efficiency.” But those of us footing

the bill aren’t allowed access to the numbers to verify their claim. Our local hospital board spent $78 million that apparently we taxpayers are on the hook for, even though three years ago that board booted out public representation, and along with it, a lot of public accountability. Public meetings, a recent protest march and several unanimous municipal council resolutions, all demanding a review of the closures and the numbers behind them, are being safely ignored in a maze of mutual deflection.

Perhaps now while sitting for the 14th hour in an emergency department or the

14th month in the surgery queue, we may find ourselves idly daydreaming about life as a dog.

Dan Brennan, Ajax, Ont.

IF ROVER CAN get timely care, so can Rover’s master. No amount of money can help a person who is suffering from pain or disability, especially if health care is not available when required. The issue boils down to the lack of resources, both human and structural. The human resources are available if only financial resources and political will are brought to bear to solve the crippling shortage of family doctors and the unacceptably long wait times for surgery.

There are more than a thousand internationally trained doctors in Canada, some of whom have completed specialty residencies overseas. They have completed their Canadian licensing exams and only require

a residency or practice assessment in order to be able to serve the community. Yet the universities that have these training spots are admitting hundreds of foreign governmentfunded foreign visa trainees every year. These doctors return home after their training and are lost to Canada.

We propose that there be a moratorium on foreign visa trainees. We can have hundreds of internationally trained doctors in practice within a few years. All they need is the residency or a practice assessment.

Dr. Joshua Thambiraj, president, Association of International Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, Toronto

ALTHOUGH OUR health care system is not perfect, the difference is we treat all people, not just the rich. If the rich don’t wish to stand in line like the rest of the common folk, they are welcome to buy their way to the front of the line—in the United States.

Bill Durfy, Welland, Ont.

SO MY DOG can get better health care than I can? My dog doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink and eats a bland but balanced diet. She is outside more, has a more active social life and gets more sleep over a weekend than I do all week. She performs more than an hour of challenging cardiovascular exercise a day. I’ve got news for you: my dog deserves better health care than I do.

Gord Gates, Toronto


FOR EVERY YOUNG woman who pays more than $1,000 for a prom dress, there are hundreds more who will not attend their high school prom this year (“Vampire in the next change room,” Bazaar, May 12). Why? Because attending the prom has become too expensive. Volunteer organizations like the Corsage Project in Toronto and the Cinderella Project in Vancouver work hard to even the playing field by providing free formal wear and accessories to deserving students who demonstrate financial need. These are students who often work two or three part-time jobs just to make ends meet; students who face adversity every day of their young lives and dream of celebrating the achievement of high school graduation with their peers. As the start of another prom season begins, remember that for every “Prom Monster Mom,” there is a fairy god-

mother working hard to ensure everyone has the chance to celebrate their prom in style. Sarah Tuite, Corsage Project, Toronto

I AM A 15-YEAR-OLD Canadian living in the U.S. and I was angered to read Rebecca Eckler describing prom night as “the biggest night” of many girls’ lives.” No doubt proms are fun, but it is completely unnecessary for anyone to make such a typically American big deal out of them. Girls who “don’t want their friends to look ‘that’ good” are not friends at all and will end up in their 30s being friendless and single. This article would play better as a soapopera screenplay or in a teenzine. If Eckler wants to write about teenagers, I suggest she cover something worthwhile.

Natasha Cmajdalka, Portland, Ore.


REGARDING HIS COLUMN on the latest CRTC hearings (“Welcome to our regularly scheduled whining,” Opinion, May 12), Andrew

Coyne doesn’t get it right when he claims a logical inconsistency between Canadian broadcasters like CTV expecting cable and satellite companies to pay for what they use (fee for carriage) while supporting the maintenance of Canada’s simultaneous substitu-

tion requirements (simulcasting). Our positions are consistent and very reasonable.

As Canadian broadcasters, we buy the exclusive territorial rights for the U.S. programs we air in Canada. Domestic substitution requirements protect our legitimate rights by simulcasting over infringing U.S. signals in our territory. This practice of simul-

casting is far less intrusive from a consumer perspective than in the U.S., where infringing signals are simply blacked out. It is illegal in the U.S., in fact, to retransmit TV signals outside of their respective markets without program rights.

As broadcasters, we pay for what we use and so must Canada’s cable and satellite distributors.

Paul D. Sparkes, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs, CTVglobemedia, Scarborough, Ont.

THANK YOU FOR Coyne’s article about the self-serving presentations by the broadcast industry. On the one hand, we have the commercial networks, complaining they should be getting a carriage fee claiming the cable and satellite providers are having a free ride. On the other side, we have the cable and satellite industry opposing it, claiming to represent the interests of consumers. However, this is not the only kind of “whining” going on by the cable industry.

The industry is also campaigning against the Canadian Television Fund, a fund that provides funding for Canadian programming. Shaw, for example, refers to it as a $ 250-million boondoggle. That fund has provided funding for many good programs and mini-

‘Some of Glen Pearson’s class may yet rub off on the untutored and the unwholesome’

series over the years. Among them are Da Vinci’s Inquest, Blue Murder and The Border. One has to wonder what the cable industry would do with the money if it won the fight. Would it pass the savings on to the customers? Would it divert the money to funds such as Rogers Cable Fund and Shaw Cable Fund or would it just be added to the bottom line?

Customers cannot take the networks or the cable industry seriously when they claim to be representing the consumers’ interest rather than their own.

Drew Howard, Victoria


I CONSIDER Kim Cattrall to be a Canadian icon. The interview Kenneth Whyte did with her was fine, but I really do not understand the point of the additional article (“The curse of Sex and the City,” TV, April 28). Sex and the City is not responsible for the poor spinoffs coming from this show, nor is it responsible for Lindsay Lohan’s disturbing sexual proclivities. It is too bad that your author did not understand the point of the show, and why so many women (and men) are attracted to it. It has little to do with the female thoughts on sex and sexuality, but more to do with what I call female fantasies.

In a world where women have the choice of being portrayed like Lindsay Lohan, a mother figure, or a career-focused bitch, Sex and the City offers us four completely different characters whom most women identify with in some way. With the exception of a few episodes, there are no dirty diapers, or cranky children. There are no dogs pooping in the front hall, or cats tearing apart curtains and rugs. There are no decisions about what to make for dinner, or about needing to have a talk about family expenses, or sharing household chores. Workweeks seem to last about 10 hours and there is always time and money for meals out and to catch up with friends.

Call it feminism, call it empowerment, call it entertainment. It was, and still is, a commentary about women and what we could be. Carolyn Zelt, Calgary


YOUR EDITORIAL on Miley Cyrus is bang on (“A plea for decency in the age of celebrity,” From the Editors, May 12). In response to your line, “The exploitation of Miley was,

depressingly, a group effort,” I say it was also a money-grab effort that Vanity Fair should be eternally shamed for. It hired photographer Annie Leibovitz, a well-known controversial photographer. But the buck didn’t stop there. The magazine had a team of people working together as supposed professionals who made

the judgment call to put the photograph in. And it’s all for money. Shouldn’t there be legal issues with this? Protecting a 15-year-old from being sexualized is everybody’s job. The parents, too, claim they had left the shoot when what you call “a near topless shot” was taken, which is probably baloney.

Intelligent people do not accept this kind of immoral and blatant greed at the expense of a 15-year-old. The people who would say that this is okay are the same ones who, when they get caught for doing something illegal, whine that society should have protected them from the lure or the exposure. It’s time the intelligent and moral people of the world made the decisions and spared everyone the hassle. Angie Dawson, Uxbridge, Ont.

ANNIE LEIBOVITZ is not a pornographic photographer; she is an art photographer. In art there is a history of appreciation of the human form. The picture in question is not even unclothed. If sex is explored tastefully with the help of parents, perhaps women would be less insecure. Should we not allow our daughters to dress up for dances? Or discuss issues of sexuality openly and non-judgmentally?

Rhean Murray, Calgary


WHAT A PLEASURE to see you recognize the civility of my MP, Glen Pearson (“The last decent man in Ottawa,” National, May 12). He is a true gentleman struggling mainly alone amid the many MPs of all parties who shout, scream, point and jab their fingers accusingly at their “honourable” colleagues during question period, and sometimes during regular “work” periods. Alas, most will never change because decency and tact are perceived to be signs of weakness and surrender. Hang in there Glen—some of your class may yet rub off on the untutored and unwholesome.

Charlie Fillmore, London, Ont.


WHAT THE TWO-YEAR life of the bear JJ3 says to me is there isn’t any room for anything wild on this planet (“The End, May 12). When something tries to be wild, be itself and behaves according to the dictates of survival, it is called predatory, problematic, bold, aggressive, or a nuisance. What successful survivor isn’t all of these things? Jj3’s short, troubled life is a pathetic commentary on the future of wild things on this earth. It seems we want to disallow those natural behaviours that create everything wild.

Jim Elliot, Vancouver