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Letters Sept. 20: Hats off to Games staff; praise for our own 'queen'

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Participants register for the 55+ B.C. Games at the Victoria Conference Centre on Tuesday. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A salute to those who made the Games work

As a participant in the competitive cycling sport, I have only positive and enthusiastic praise for all those who worked so ardently to organize and execute, so effectively, the 2022 Victoria 55+ B.C. Games.

The District of Metchosin, chosen for the three cycling events, time trial, road race and hill climb, provided routes that were challenging yet filled with vistas of striking beauty.

Every detail of the competition had been well attended to with the result that there were no uncertainties to cause a cyclist to lose focus.

Each and every volunteer was truly an amazing person. With the 7 a.m. event start times, the volunteers were in place from 5:30 a.m. on.

The small army of volunteers required for registration, timing, parking and, most importantly, cyclist safety at intersections and sharp curves were all awesome with their attention and performance.

Over and above their responsibilities, with good words, clapping and cheering they injected new energy into us as we sped along.

With their competent commitment they displayed a deep loyalty and pride in their respective communities.

I would be remiss if I failed to recognize the financial support of sponsors from the private business sector. Without that support, hosting the games would not be possible.

In conclusion, heartiest congratulations to Michael O’Connor and the organizing committee, and to cycling chair Andrew McCartney and his core organization.

Congratulations and thank you to the small army of volunteers. Congratulations and thanks to the sponsorship firms for their commitment with financial support.

The final congratulations are for Victoria and the sister group of communities for hosting a most successful 55+ B.C. Games.

As a former MLA, I will say that in the 10 years in that capacity, I have never seen the face of the Victoria region shine more brightly.

Cliff Serwa
Kelowna

High praise for our own ‘Queen Elizabeth’

In this week of royal memories and celebrations, it was with fond memories I read about Carolyn “Queen Elizabeth” Sadowska’s impending royal retirement.

I had the great pleasure to experience her regal impersonation on two occasions, my late mother’s 50th and 70th surprise birthday parties. In both instances all involved were taken by her warm and excellent royal impersonation, which brought great ceremony to an appreciative group of family and friends.

What a great feeling to know you have given so many such a gracious and sincere moment; what greater gift can one leave to one’s community?

Len Jansen
Langford

Structural inequity must be addressed

Re: “Public-private compensation gap is unfair,” comment, Sept. 18.

I was intrigued by Gwyn Morgan’s commentary about disparities between employees in the public versus the private sector.

I eagerly await his ideas for reforming the structural inequities built into the economy that have enabled those among the top 10 per cent of income earners (Morgan, for example) to hold what was described in a recently updated Bank of Canada staff discussion paper as “a staggeringly large percentage of income — 40 per cent in Canada and 50 per cent in the United States.”

That was in 2018 and the playing field has become only more slanted since.

This is a time when our country needs strong, decisive federal and provincial leaders who will stand up against this kind of corporate executive greed, including with legislation.

I can’t say I’m optimistic we’ll see that kind of leadership. Or a follow-up column by Morgan.

Earl Fowler
View Royal

Improve pensions in the private sector

Re: “Public-private compensation gap is unfair,” comment, Sept. 18.

Gwyn Morgan laments the inadequacy of private sector pensions. Unfortunately, he fails to draw the obvious conclusion, which is that the system of private sector pensions needs to be improved.

Can we not work toward a system where private sector workers earn a defined-benefit pension plan? Currently, many private sector retirees must rely in part on their savings, the value of which fluctuates with the stock market.

As a result, someone who has worked hard all their life and saved for retirement can have their retirement income cut by 10 per cent or more because a dictator thousands of miles away decides to invade a neighbouring country.

This ought to be offensive in a modern, progressive society.

One solution might be to pool private sector funds to create a large enough fund to overcome the vagaries of stock markets and provide retired workers with a fair, predictable pension.

This could be led by the private sector or facilitated by government, but it should not require public funds.

Also, Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits need to be enhanced. Some private sector workers earn salaries out of proportion to their productivity and have very generous pension plans.

Perhaps increased taxes on very high-income earners could help to fund CPP and OAS enhancements.

John Pennington
Central Saanich

Punching down at its very worst

Re: “Public-private compensation gap is unfair,” comment, Sept. 18.

It continues to disappoint me that the Times Colonist chooses to reproduce Gwyn Morgan’s reactionary columns.

This example was particularly upsetting, with Morgan arguing, in effect, that because many small employers and private sector workers are experiencing economic hardship, public sector workers should accept that their finances should fall behind. This is punching down at its very worst.

Just as Morgan ignores that unionized workers’ moves to protect incomes and improve working conditions have spillover effects that improve wages and conditions in private sector employment, the TC demeans by proxy the more than 80,000 public sector workers in the Capital Regional District — including teachers, health-care workers and military employees — by continuing to give his disparaging commentaries pride of place in its pages.

Please stop. Or at least, in the interest of fairness, reduce the imbalance of content between those like Morgan, who would engage our society in a rapacious race to the bottom, and other positive voices who favour reduced inequality, economic stability, and improvements in the lives of the many.

Marc Christensen
Victoria

A labour union might be the right choice

Re: “Public-private compensation gap is unfair,” comment, Sept. 18.

Good for Gwyn Morgan to assemble a dizzying array of stats on the evils and turpitude of the Canadian labour union.

However, my eyes glazed over when he revealed yet another right-tipping quote from the conservative think-tankers at the Fraser Institute. Like a bad card player, he showed his hand.

Alas, as a 35-year public servant and proud member of a technology team at a local university, I have served with a smile and have been represented by CUPE.

Interestingly, in all those years and all of those collective agreements, I have signed onto more that half of those negotiated contracts that paid zero per cent wage increases, typically two years out of a three-year contract.

Finally, when I started my career in the late 1980s, I was making around four to five times the minimum wage as a skilled technologist.

Industry and private sector has traditionally been 15-20 per cent ahead of us — consistently — year after year.

I now make around three times the minimum wage and yes, I have the benefits of job security, health care (when you can find it), an equitable and evolved workplace with lots of room and opportunities for advancement and, yes, wage increases that follow strict public service guidelines.

At the end of the day, I thank my union, its members and associates for a “better deal.”

Play your cards right and a labour union might be the right choice for you and your community.

R. Colin Newell, shop steward
CUPE B.C.
Victoria

Union jabs reveal double standard for pay

Re: “Public-private compensation gap is unfair,” comment, Sept. 18.

I was dismayed to read Gwyn Morgan’s commentary on the alleged compensation gap between public and private workers here in B.C.

While I understand the opinion was written through a business community lens, the view it contains represents a tiresome, cynical view of worker empowerment and the value provided by hardworking, dedicated public sector professionals.

The piece alleges that B.C. public servants are paid “enormous compensation.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Most government workers live and work in Victoria — one of the most expensive and restrictive economies in the country.

In spite of this, B.C. public servants are paid some of the lowest wages compared to their counterparts in other provinces.

It also takes a jab at unionized staff as being entitled for fighting for their own wages and pension benefits. Huh?

It should come as no surprise that North America is seeing a surge in union drives across public and private sectors as corporate entities rack up record profits while consumer costs skyrocket, wages stagnate and worker rights are attacked.

We should not begrudge any workplace for exploring every option available to secure better wages and employment protections, including unionization.

Morgan attempts to point the finger at public sector workers for asking for too much, but the real question is: Why are private sector workers getting paid so little?

And given the pro-worker slant of the current NDP government, it’s interesting that the piece makes no mention of its actions including boosting the minimum wage, legislating paid sick days and increasing access to unionization so that every worker has a voice.

One has to wonder if the proverbial tables were turned, and corporate professionals were making significantly more than rank-and-file unionized bureaucrats, would conservative commentators feel the need to point out such alleged unfairness? Somehow I doubt it.

K.J. Joyes
Victoria

Doctors should own medical practices

In B.C. today an ever-growing portion of family medicine practices are becoming owned and operated by private companies and individuals who have nothing to do with health care.

These private entities are there to make money because they see a business opportunity in an area that is struggling.

These private entities have already attempted to launch programs whereby patients are strongly encouraged to pay fees directly to them for the provision of medical services by the physicians who are contracted to work for them.

Many of them are online companies that seek to provide lucrative Telehealth services.

Recently the government has agreed to pay $118 million in retroactive payments meant to go to family physicians. It is certain that a significant portion of these tax dollars will end up in the hands of these non-physician owners of clinics.

This should not happen. There are ways to prevent this and I have asked Health Minister Adrian Dix to intervene.

It is illegal for a law practice in Canada to be owned by any entity other than a licensed lawyer. This is to prevent a conflict of interest from arising between the licensed lawyer and the private owner.

I was abruptly forced to leave my medical practice because such a conflict of interest arose between myself and the private owner of the clinic in which I was contracted to work. This conflict of interest involved monetary payments by patients to the private owner and was subsequently harshly dealt with by the authorities.

Instances like this are sure to happen again unless there is change.

The simple solution for government is to outlaw this private ownership of medical practices. This would then simply conform to the situation with other professionals like lawyers.

If government does not do this, then any monies which you, the taxpayer, put forward to solve the health-care crisis will go to support these private owners.

Robert H. Brown, MD, CCFP
North Saanich

A quick prescription to help Amazon find staff

So, Amazon is anticipating difficulties in being able to hire enough people to deliver parcels at the new warehouse in Sidney.

I have an idea. Amazon should acquire their own doctor. Pay the doctor’s salary, overhead and administrative costs.

All Amazon employees and their families would be attached to that family doctor.

Amazon can afford it. Not only would the vacancies be filled quickly, I’m betting there would be a waiting list for employment opportunities.

You’re welcome, Amazon.

Patricia Marsh
East Sooke

Use the gizmo for the bill, but use cash for tips

I am somewhat puzzled by the now-normal protocol of tipping after a meal at a bar or restaurant, where the establishment gives you a choice of between 10 and 30 per cent, or more.

What I do, which works really well, is pay the bill through the electronic gizmo, if I can figure it out, then tell the waitress that a tip will be left on the table, in cash, when we leave. They seem happy with that.

I used to always pay in cash, which I think I will go back to. You know what you’ve spent, and aren’t surprised when you get your bank statement.

Rob McKenzie
Duncan

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