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The B.C. government has announced that beginning May 29, it would send about 50 breast and prostate cancer patients per week to the U.S. for care.Amy Romer/The Globe and Mail

Field trip

Re “Sending B.C. cancer patients to U.S. for care will triple the cost” (May 18): British Columbia spent millions of taxpayer dollars fending off a challenge to the Medicare Protection Act. Throughout the years-long legal battle, the government’s position was that even a modicum of private health care would be the first step down the “slippery slope” to the dreaded U.S. system.

Now we learn the government will use the U.S. system, at great public expense, to provide treatment to cancer patients within recommended timelines. On one hand, the government should be congratulated for recognizing that timely care must be a priority. Under the current circumstances, the best, perhaps only, option lies south of the border.

But why? The government created barriers that effectively prevented building the very facilities now being used in Bellingham, Wash. Had that not been the case, treatments could have been provided by the private sector in B.C., keeping health care dollars in the province and providing care closer to home.

Geoff Holter Vancouver

British Columbia, like most provinces, is facing increasing demand for health care, made worse by an aging population.

The solution for increased demand should be to increase supply, something that seems to have been missed by the B.C. government. Instead, it found an “outlet valve” in Bellingham, Wash. It should be noted that “outlet valve” reads as code for private health care.

This same government was so critical of the Cambie Surgery Centre, all because doctor Brian Day had the audacity to suggest there might be a place for private health care when governments could not deal with long waitlists. Now it is embracing private health care for cancer patients – and so they should.

That said, if it’s good for cancer patients, maybe this “outlet valve” can be applied to other groups waiting endlessly for their turn.

Cecil Rorabeck London, Ont.

The primary cause of this problem seems to be repeating over and over again, and yet nothing changes. “Growing waiting times” and “dozens of insiders, including four past presidents, blaming growing bureaucracy and poor planning over many years for the capacity challenges it faces today.”

Our provinces waste tax dollars on bureaucracy. Perhaps four past presidents should have dealt with that as part of their job.

Erika McDonald London, Ont.

The cost of cancer care in British Columbia ($3,854 per patient) versus the United States ($12,277) reminds me of the woman at the butcher counter being told that lamb chops are $40 a pound.

“The lamb chops were only $30 a pound across the street,” she protests.

“Why don’t you buy them there?” the butcher asks.

“They are out of them,” she answers.

“When we are out of them,” the butcher replies, “our price is $5 a pound.”

What is the relevance of the B.C. price when the care is not available?

Arnold Aberman CM, MD; past dean, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

Help wanted

Re “Ontario financial watchdog report warns staffing shortages, limited space could blunt impact of $10 child care” (May 17): For decades, people were happy to hire nannies from other countries with minimum education.

Now they want daycare staff with two years of postsecondary education. And yes, they don’t want to pay much. Is there any wonder there are staffing shortages?

When does a job become a profession? Can there be assistants to work alongside the pros? There are lots of new immigrants without qualifications who would be happy to do the job.

Kimberly Chan Toronto

Let’s split

Re “Ontario plans to ‘divorce’ Peel Region in new bill” (May 19): I believe Ontario is overgoverned, overtaxed and overregulated. What welcoming news, then, that it is dissolving the Region of Peel.

By reducing this layer of government, there will be a reduction of local and regional duplication and costs of operating programs and services, including infrastructure, environment, transit, planning and economic development – the list goes on.

By disentangling these levels of government, the municipalities of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon can build more housing faster by eliminating red tape and reducing time and costs associated with plans and permits. The citizens of Halton, York, Durham and Niagara can enjoy similar benefits if their regional governments dissolve in the near future.

Hopefully this starts a broader disentanglement agenda. Canada’s system of federalism has become a complicated system of intergovernmental overlap. By reducing how much governments interact, we would improve accountability and lower tax bills.

Finally, there could be sunny days in Ontario.

Marnie Wraith Meaford, Ont.

Until recently, I spent my entire life living and working in the Region of Peel. While I understand the mayor of Mississauga’s desire to save $1-billion over 10 years, I suspect that, like most divorces, the fallout shall prove messy and complicated and involve untold costs.

Perhaps the two school boards and shared hospitals will remain unaffected because they fall under provincial jurisdiction. What of the police force, children’s aid society and endless other regional services?

It is possible that new infrastructure and commensurate costs could eat up a great deal of perceived savings.

Annette Kavanagh-Turner Guelph, Ont.

Good on Ontario. Fewer layers of “management” are almost universally better for effectiveness and efficiency.

But I’m going out on a limb to suggest that Mississauga residents will not see a single penny of the supposed $1-billion that the mayor assures them will be saved from the termination of Peel Region. If we go back to the original business case for additional bureaucracy, we would also likely find that it was supposed to save money.

Still, it’s a positive step. However, hands up who believes they will save more money now?

Brian Sterling Oakville, Ont.

So it’s underway, then, and surely there will be the promised and hoped-for “fairness and equity in the process to untangle the municipalities.”

I’ll be sorry to see Peel Region go, though. I kind of like the name!

Kenneth Peel Toronto

In bloom

Re “The brightest bulbs in Ottawa” (May 18): As a former gardener and landscaper and as a human, agriculture and happy people give me a lift.

The full story of Princess Margriet’s birth – we learned it as preschoolers in daycare – was a classic case of Canadian ingenuity and quick thinking. Between that and the liberation of the Netherlands, we get thousands of beautiful flowers, smiles – and a sign “spring is sprung, the grass is riz.”

B.J. Del Conte Toronto

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