Letters, March 11


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Questioning rebates

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Questioning rebates

I want to thank Brian E. Lecker for his letter (“Purchase diagnostic equipment,” March 7) stating how vital MRIs are as a precursor to therapeutic interventions. He’s absolutely right that the extraordinary wait times for these tests in Manitoba are inhumane.

This letter is yet another example of how a responsible government should proceed.

I wonder how many MRI machines could be purchased for $200 million?

Lori Tighe


Headed in right direction

Re: Tories herald personal income tax cuts, increase in health spending in election-year budget (March 7)

Manitoba being one of the provinces where people are most taxed on a personal level, I believe people should look at what Saskatchewan has had for years as a personal deduction, and it would put us to shame for not keeping up with inflation.

Our present provincial government is heading in the right direction in its future budget proposal. It will leave more money in everyone’s pocket if you have income, no matter how much. More disposable income helps keep the economy healthy.

Richard Vermette


Métis need to be at table

Re: First ministers meetings need First Nations (Feb. 17)

Referring to health-care meeting participation, Niigaan Sinclair’s remark that “one could argue the Inuit are at the table (with the territories)” is simplistic and wrong. One could also argue using that same logic, again wrongly, that First Nations have a role and are already at the table (with Canada).

Sinclair’s backhand that the “federal Liberals are the biggest fans of Métis in history” does not contribute meaningfully to discussions about Indigenous participation in First Ministers meetings or accessing health services. He takes a complex relationship between the Crown and the Red River Métis and dismisses it with a flippant remark.

Sinclair’s column begins with a statement about supporting health care throughout the country, so let’s stay focused on Indigenous health.

The Métis health needs are not being met by the current health-care system. The Métis are underserved by provincial health care and excluded from federal supports. We do not have access to Jordan’s Principle nor to the uninsured health benefits available to other Indigenous peoples.

I cannot say whether the First Nation and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) supports are adequate for First Nations or Inuit, but Métis have no access to these federal supplementary health benefits. The FNIHB name itself makes clear the Métis are not included nor welcome. Also, many Métis find that the medical service closest to their home is a federally funded nursing station. Unfortunately, more often than not, Métis are again not welcome.

Despite the lack of federal supports, the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) has established its own pharmacare program to ensure our citizens get their medications. We provide eyeglasses and other health-related benefits. We are also undertaking our Métis Mobile Clinic initiative to provide health education and services.

Sinclair is an educator and we are asked to believe he is well informed about Indigenous matters. His bias comes through. He is unable or unwilling to speak knowledgeably of the Métis. It is the Red River Métis who are not at the table and need to be.

Allan D. Benoit

Chief of Staff — Senior Advisor

MMF National Government of the Red River Métis


Towing the line item

Re: City overpaid $1M for towing (March 7)

The headline is a relative shocker, but City of Winnipeg officials discovering taxpayers were “overcharged” $1 million for towing services is not the most shocking thing about this bit of bad news.

More alarming is that Winnipeg’s leaders routinely spend tax dollars on three courtesy towing contracts. Why are Winnipeg residents paying for other people’s valet parking when they can’t even afford a car for themselves — or are bravely choosing to ride Winnipeg’s public transport?

City councillors lament “that the public service didn’t catch it (earlier),” but who entered into such agreements in the first place — and when and why? With Winnipeg’s track record of ridiculous negotiations (for union-boss secret contracts, land swaps, etc., and now courtesy towing for Winnipeggers who prefer to emit more carbon than others) it is hardly surprising a review of courtesy tows found a “significant and unreasonable discrepancy between the number of parking tickets issued and the number of courtesy tows reported.” Civic leaders’ possible solution is… litigate some more!

It sounds awful, but most egregious is that our elected city officials have never chosen to waive their exorbitant paramedic service fees for disabled residents. Instead, they blame the province, and decide to replace the wheelchair logos on city transit vehicles with a piece of “art activism” (showing a wheelchair-user pushing himself single-handedly, literally).

When the EPC reviews the report on March 13, I hope they will, finally, pay attention to disabled Winnipeggers.

Karmel Schreyer


Design safer streets

Re: City report urges permanently reduced speed limits on some streets (March 7)

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We continue to design neighbourhoods for cars and then wonder why they are unsafe, boring and unpleasant.

So what do we do? We introduce a speed pilot project, to answer a rhetorical question. This is a typical response to a larger systemic issue when it comes to traffic calming in most North American cities. Just putting up speed-limit signs is not enough. In fact, this measure has proven to not be effective in the long term.

We also love to blame and ultimately punish drivers, because they are the ones who should know better, even though the design speed of most of our streets and roads does not match the posted speed. A great example of this is Bairdmore Boulevard in the Richmond West area. This road is wide and straight and essentially tells drivers to drive quickly. I have routinely witnessed drivers going well above the 50 km/h posted speed limit.

Chicanes, narrower roads, continuous sidewalks, protected bike and pedestrian lanes are some best-practice strategies that have been shown to make neighbourhoods safer and more pleasant to live in. We need a plan that incorporates these best-practice solutions. Countries like the Netherlands have already figured this out. Why can’t we?

I would encourage anyone who is interested in making our city more livable to have a look at some excellent urban planning YouTube channels such as Not Just Bikes and Strong Towns.

Peter Sdrolias


Accessible winter fun

In response to Michael Bennett’s piece, Remove barriers so everyone wins at winter (March 7), I totally agree that Winnipeg must find a solution to accessibility and liability to ensure we can be a world-class winter city.

I and many other citizens use the Wolseley Winter Wonderland regularly, but unfortunately I have friends who cannot access the river and so it is not a wonderland for them. It is both a frustration and a wish that they could skate, walk or take their dogs down to enjoy this winter gem.

I was also unhappy to read the issue of liability is resting on the shoulders of the community volunteers who maintain the two-kilometre stretch on the Assiniboine River. Surely a solution can be found to ensure peace of mind for Winnipeggers, volunteers, and the city.

I request the city look closely at these two very important issues, bring about changes that provide for liability coverage and access points to our Wolseley Winter Wonderland. We then will be a world-class winter city.

Margaret Day


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