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Meal-plan rules clear

Re: Students' food fight with U of W (Jan. 9).

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Diversity Foods, an award-winning food-service provider, was introduced to the University of Winnipeg campus in 2009 with a mandate to offer local, nutritious, locally sourced "real" food. The university engaged Diversity's services to provide an affordable, flexible, healthy meal plan for the 172 students in McFeetors Hall.

The University of Winnipeg offers various housing options to approximately 425 students and while the tax-free meal plan is offered to all university students, it is only mandatory for McFeetors Hall residents, as there are no kitchens in the dorm rooms.

The meal plan offers a service for students who live in residence, with specific restrictions, limitations and conditions that apply to those services. Our housing and food-program details are easily accessible, transparent, and clear, and are posted online for students and parents to peruse; each student is encouraged to thoroughly read their housing and food contracts before signing them.

The university meal plan is one of the most affordable in all of Manitoba's post-secondary education facilities and is also one of the most flexible -- students can use their card at four Diversity locations on campus and take advantage of the variety of menu options.

Diversity continually seeks to improve delivery of food services to students at the University of Winnipeg, offering a cost-competitive, nutritious, delicious product at the minimum requirements set out by the Canada Revenue Agency for tax exemption.

Questions have been raised regarding CRA requirements associated with the design and operation of our meal plan. While we believe our plan is consistent with CRA requirements, we take these questions seriously. As a result we will be seeking a formal ruling from the CRA regarding the plan.

Diversity charges no administrative fee to operate the meal plan and is more than willing to meet with students and our student association to discuss concerns and hear ideas around improving the meal plan.



Senior executive officer and adviser to the president,

University of Winnipeg


Tallying the damage

Reported accidents have reached 20,000 (Snow job, or just new reality?, Jan. 8), yet road clearing and sanding have still been abysmal -- all to save a few million dollars from the snow-clearing budget.

Council can find $100 million to cover over-expenditures on police and fire stations, but not a few million to protect the lives and automobiles of their citizens. The cost of repairing these vehicles will no doubt be passed on to the drivers in the coming years.

Also in the coming year is a municipal election. How many of the current councillors deserve to be re-elected?





Another senseless tragedy

Re: ER patient dies outside his home (Jan. 10).

The medical system in this province clearly leaves a lot to be desired. The Phoenix Sinclair and Brian Sinclair inquiries offer proof of what can and did go wrong, but it seems no lessons have been learned.

David Silver, 78, died after being released from the Grace Hospital into the care of a cab driver. It was -37 C in the middle of the night. Dressed in little more than pyjamas and slippers, Silver never made it to his front door -- he was essentially abandoned.

Will another inquiry be called? Would it make a difference?





Open books on cottages

Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship constantly references the argument cottage owners have not had an increase in service fees and rent in many years, and that we should therefore have an increase (Cottage-fee hikes in mail soon, Jan. 9).

Most cottagers realize fees need to be adjusted, and that we should pay our fair share. But what is our fair share? The provincial government has not been able to account for park expenses since 2002, even with a 2005 court ruling stating Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship's books must be opened to the public.

Cottage owners and associations have filed freedom-of-information requests but are ignored or told an extension is needed as a large number of records need to be searched.

We have been told the increase will go ahead, but that they promise to do an audit in the future.

More promises from a government that increases rent by up to 750 per cent and ignores their own rental act that does not allow for such large increases.






To enjoy the "privilege" of being a cottage owner, my husband and I earned diplomas, then worked long hours -- usually 12 or more, including shiftwork -- as we raised our children.

Owning a second home does not mean unpacking a cooler, putting your feet up and relaxing. Yard work, repairs and maintenance costs is the life of a cottage owner, yet it has been a wonderful retreat for over 20 years.

Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh claims the government is only interested in what is a fair outcome. So are cottagers. Comparing cottage fees inside and outside of parks is not reasonable: There are no schools in provincial parks, there is minimal street lighting, no garbage pickup (cottagers must take their garbage to receptacles) and only primary highway snow clearing (cottagers privately pay for block road clearing).

As for frozen park service and rent fees, my invoices have increased steadily from $660 to $1,000 annually.






This tax being imposed on cottage owners without showing where the money has and will be spent smells foul. If everything was in order, the government would not defy a court order to open the books.

The same goes for the gasoline and provincial sales-tax increases. Does anyone believe they will spend that money on road improvement?



East St. Paul

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 11, 2014 A16

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