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Update survivor benefit

Re: Home stretch to expanding CPP (Nov. 14). If the plan is to increase the premiums by 2.85 per cent so Canadians can receive 50 per cent of our pre-retirement income in the Canadian Pension Plan, then CPP needs to provide benefits more like a pension. The CPP survivor benefits should be 60 per cent, period.

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Currently, if I'm near or at maximum CPP retirement benefit and my spouse dies, I get little or no survivor benefit from his CPP. And the CPP death benefit has been stuck at $2,500 for decades.

It's time to increase it to $3,500 and index it to inflation. Oh, yes, and the death benefit is taxable, too. Can we get that death benefit as non-taxable?

Too many widows are disappointed when they find out how much tax they have to pay on it. One hand giveth and the other taketh (some) away.


Ste. Anne

Lane a credible voice

Al Mackling's Nov. 9 letter, Looking for an agenda, criticizing Graham Lane's credible Hydro and MPI articles seems to imply there is more apathy among the public than actually exists. Thank goodness there is someone out there with the experience and the reputational integrity to report the truth.

Lane's real and urgent concern is for Manitoba taxpayers now and in the future. Lane rightly alerts us to the real potential for bankruptcy of this province. While these bloated arm-of-the-government organizations spend with abandon and attempt to hide from fiscal accountability, the provincial government waxes eloquent on opinion rather than fact, stacks the PUB and ignores minor glitches such as burgeoning debt, increasing taxes, decaying infrastructure and a further reduction in transfer payments. Ho hum.

Perhaps Mackling could address the hard cold facts presented by Lane with credible information to address serious concerns that Hydro can indeed provide us with low, unsubsidized energy costs for years to come.




Former NDP premier Ed Schreyer, former NDP energy minister Tim Sale, former NDP natural resources minister Len Evans, former Public Utilities Board chairman Graham Lane, former University of Manitoba dean of engineering Garland Laliberté, former president and CEO of Manitoba Hydro Len Bateman, and former vice-president of Manitoba Hydro Will Tishinski all have one thing in common. They believe Manitoba's biggest mistake is the money being spent by this NDP government on future hydro development. They have all asked for Manitoba Hydro to study whether its development plans still make sense in today's market.

For the first time on record, Manitoba Hydro CEO Scott Thomson stated on Oct. 2, at the standing committee: "If gas prices stay at $3 five years from now and the outlook is a lot lower, that's probably going to impact on the decision whether to proceed with Conawapa at that time, defer the project or shelve it indefinitely."

Where this NDP government has refused to change course, it certainly seems that even the CEO of Manitoba Hydro is hesitant and conflicted on the issue. With the dam at Wuskwatim set to lose $9 million a month for the next 16 years, perhaps the NDP should heed Thomson's concerns.


MLA for St. Paul

What's wrong with 'crackhead'?

Re: Bobbleheads agree Ford's staying put (Nov. 13). If Rob Ford's whimsical-looking little doll is to be believed, not only has the man dropped more than 200 pounds in less than a week, he now resembles, hairline and all, his enabler/councillor brother Doug, who is the doll's true likeness.

Knowing full well the Toronto mayor's taste for publicity, booze and bongs, perhaps souvenir collectors should now refer to the plastic mini-Ford as a "bottlehead" doll.




Regarding Rob Ford's ongoing snow job, I suggest that Toronto city council call in the army.



Missing the masterworks

I have been disappointed with the non-coverage of the second half of Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. The typical review consists only of a review of the first half (the overture and concerto), followed only by a brief mention of what piece is being performed in the second half and maybe a snippet of the program notes. In this format, there is no review of the actual performance given for the second half.

This is disappointing for a couple of reasons. First, these are frequently the masterworks that I, and many other patrons, are most attracted to. I want to hear what someone else thinks of my favourite pieces being performed by our hometown orchestra.

Second, it is my opinion the musicians are interested to hear educated opinions of what comes across in their performance. As a performing musician myself, I always want to know what the audience hears.

Third, as we all know, widespread public interest in orchestral music has waned in recent years. This art form needs better coverage to sustain and enhance public perception.

I recognize there are certain constraints in producing reviews of live performances. Submission deadlines are the most common reason given. If there is a chance to work around these deadlines, or even -- in my opinion -- delay publication until a full review is written. This would be preferable to half-done reviews that neglect the main piece. It is akin to reviewing a restaurant based just on the hors d'oeuvres, soup and salad, and not on the main dishes.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 15, 2013 A12

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