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MDC past its prime

It's unfair to Manitoba Developmental Centre residents, families and staff to keep them in limbo about the future (Resolve MDC's future, Editorial, June 4).

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Closing any institution is difficult, but providing a fuller life in the community for people with intellectual disabilities is the most important and noble goal.

The buildings are ancient, and those built in the 1960s aren't much better. There's a lack of privacy and many makeshift fixes have been made to try to accommodate individuals more comfortably. The 1960s cottages also lack accessibility, making the building unsuitable for any institution's use, as the editorial suggests.

Closing the MDC would not result in the same consequences as the 1980s mental-health closure. The community service structure for adults with intellectual disabilities is well-defined, with more than 100 agencies providing residential programs, from independent living to extensive support for people with complex needs.

A multi-year plan to move the remainder of residents to the community is needed. People have been moving to the community from the MDC for many years; according to the Family Services annual report, 134 people moved from the MDC to the community between 1996-97 and 2012-13.

As far as staff goes, there are ample opportunities to provide support to people in the community.


President, Community Living Winnipeg

Care homes understaffed

While several new personal-care homes (PCH) being built in Manitoba is good news, will those facilities be able to hire enough staff to care properly for their residents (Transcona gets new personal-care home, June 3)?

Most personal-care homes are understaffed because of the high cost of running them. To deal with the shortage, the WRHA sets guidelines for the minimum number of PCH staff for every shift. If that number is surpassed, the corresponding sum is deducted from the total staffing allotment from the government to that PCH. Talk about a catch-22.

The result is a number of staffing gaps several times a day. At times, no staff can be seen on the unit or at the desk because they are either tending to residents in their rooms or on meal breaks themselves. On the evening shift, any number of residents in wheelchairs or walkers can be seen alone or in clusters without supervision.

As the wife of a PCH resident, I know PCH staff are caring individuals with medical education, intensive training, excellent skills and plenty of experience that work under constraints beyond their control.

This is a major health and safety issue. These are our loved ones -- and soon, maybe ourselves -- we're talking about.



Free pass for Trudeau

Re: Tough questions for Trudeau (Letters, June 2). Don Hermiston hit the nail on the head when he suggests many Canadian media outlets have given Justin Trudeau a free pass.

This began even before he was leader of the Liberal Party. Look at the coverage the Free Press gave Trudeau at the time of the leadership candidates' debate in Winnipeg early in 2013: Where were the tough questions?

Apparently photos of Trudeau in the gym working out were deemed more important.

At least Trudeau got that. Little coverage was given to Marc Garneau, Martha Hall Findlay or Joyce Murray, who were actually meeting with people and discussing ideas while Trudeau was in the gym.



Tutu cartoon appalling

Your June 4 editorial cartoon that depicted Archbishop Desmond Tutu was shocking and appalling.

Yes, life is full of contradictions; however, the cartoon's message was in poor taste and appears to be at cross purposes to a portion of the motto of the Winnipeg Free Press editorials page: "Liberty of Religion."

Bishop Tutu may not be saying something that suits the editorial bias of your newspaper, but this Nobel laureate deserves our respect and admiration for speaking out on issues of environmental, social and political importance.

He should be thanked for taking an interest in important issues in Canada.



Off-leash park alternative

There is a better place for an off-leash dog park not too far away from Crestview's Voyageur Park (Dog-park decision delay 'a good first step': resident, June 4).

Why not designate the east side of Sturgeon Creek between Hamilton and Saskatchewan avenues as an off-leash area? Many residents already use the area to exercise their animals.

The area contains no children's play structures and can easily be contained with a short length of fencing and gates along Hamilton, Silver and Saskatchewan avenues.



Winnipeg's Tiananmen connection

On the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Manitobans should reflect on our own connection to that day -- and, perhaps, our own moral failing (Tiananmen tensions high, June 4).

At the same time as the burned and battered corpses of the fallen were being scraped from the pavements of that distant Chinese plaza, Winnipeggers were being held in thrall by the spectacle of the Chinese "Pandas in Person" exhibit at Assiniboine Park Zoo.

Even as horrendous reports and terrifying images of the events were shocking people, visiting Chinese political and cultural officials were defended as "innocents" by then-mayor Bill Norrie who said, in response to calls from councillors to cancel the official visit in protest and terminate the panda exhibit, "It'll be totally inappropriate to embarrass our guests" (Send pandas home, Golden says, June 6, 1989).

As a democratic society, not only did we fail the call to moral ascendency, we sold it out for the sake of a few fuzzy snapshots of a couple of cuddly critters.



BRT not a morality issue

In Bus corridor moving forward (June 4), Coun. Jenny Gerbasi is quoted as saying "We cannot be a city without mass transit -- it's just wrong, morally wrong."

Morality has nothing to do with the debate over whether to proceed with the second phase of BRT. It scares me to think we have a councillor who has a vote on this important issue who obviously can't articulate actual reasons for supporting the project.

Occasionally elected officials have to make a leap of faith and proceed with a project of this magnitude. The best example I can think of is then-premier Duff Roblin's strong advocacy of the construction of the Red River Floodway in the late 1950s.

The floodway has paid for itself several times over during the course of history, something BRT will never do.



Avoiding traffic tickets easy

Re: Mobile photo-radar summons up 64 per cent in 2013 (June 4). We whine and complain about those pesky traffic cameras, calling them a tax grab and thus unnecessary.

If only there was something we could do to avoid getting those fines in the mail, something simple and logical, something everybody could do immediately. Hm.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 5, 2014 A12

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