Letters April 21: Dangers of overheight trucks; viable funding needed for our schools

Our schools need viable funding

As a past president of CUPE 947 and a retired teacher, I was shocked to hear of the proposed $7.3-million cuts in the Greater Victoria School District for the coming school year. The proposed cuts will have a significant impact on the depth of education for students and the staff who provide the programs and supports.

The impact for CUPE 947 school support personnel will be great. The district is looking at reducing these workers by 17 per cent. These workers fall into three categories: clerical, technical and educational. The 10 per cent cut to the educational sector has an immediate reverberation in classrooms. “Special education” has evolved with inclusive education changing the dynamic and composition of today’s class.

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The equity of student learning is vitally important as various supports are being developed. One longstanding support has been the intervention of paraprofessionals, such as educational assistants (EAs). These people are no longer local parents looking for pocket money, but post-secondary-qualified individuals.

Yet these people are the most underemployed workers in the district. Many work a 25-26 hours a week, 10 months a year. They are paid an hourly wage. If the 947 worker is the single salary earner, they are likely to have a second source of income.

In the past few years, the district has had a difficult time recruiting employees for this type of work. Routinely, ill workers are not replaced.

Cuts to the 947 workforce will impact personal livelihoods, the supports to students and classroom teachers. These positions will not be viable as a source of income or as educational supports.

The past year has been extremely difficult for all school staff members. These cuts will have a demonstrably negative impact on service, morale and the system. Schools in B.C. need viable public funding, not the lowest funding in the country.

David Futter

Freedom versus government meddling

Social distancing, masks, vaccines, control of the pandemic, saving lives — these are all for chumps.

The important thing is my personal freedom from government interference in my life. Next, let’s go after driving laws that insist, for example, that we stop for red lights.

And why should we be told what side of the street we must drive on?

Why can’t they just leave us alone?

Gary Bauslaugh

Those high bumpers can kill people

I propose that the provincial government and traffic police take action about the ever-constant hazard that caused Const. Sarah Beckett’s death five years ago.

Raised pickup trucks with aftermarket bumpers override passenger cars’ side safety beams and cause devastating head and chest injuries to car occupants.

Had Beckett been hit by a passenger car, the side impact beams on her cruiser could have absorbed the energy involved.

She could have been any of us.

These overheight trucks are modified by selfish owners for personal reasons. There is no need for a vehicle on the road that is modified to be more dangerous to other road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and passenger car drivers.

These vehicles will cause more damage by their weight and modification whether the driver is drunk, or at fault or not. They make a minor collision into a major or fatal collision.

I ask the government and traffic police to take meaningful action and remove these vehicles from our roadways or get them down to a stock ride height with factory designed crushable bumpers, for the safety of all road users.

Ken Mawdsley, paramedic

Give credit to Indigenous healers

The Times Colonist recently published a story about a number of individuals working to regularly provide Nuu-chah-nulth cultural ceremonies within Tofino’s local hospital after a local physician observed First Nations members who attend them require his services less often.

The patients’ progress is attributed to the reclamation of cultural identity — through cultural ceremonies — that colonization stripped from Indigenous Peoples for generations.

This point alone should sufficiently support Indigenous cultural ceremonies within the hospital, not to mention the freedom to practice traditional cultural ceremonies is a human right.

As a settler, my views are limited, yet I have participated in research to explore Indigenous healing practices within medical facilities.

What struck me was the additional feeling shared by cultural support person Chris Seticher: “If we introduce our culture to the hospital and if the doctors and the staff are able to understand it, they’ll be more open to having it there.”

My belief is that hospital staff don’t need to understand how cultural ceremonies work: Western and Indigenous approaches to health and medicine draw upon different epistemological truths, and, to date, British Columbia doesn’t have legislation to prioritize cultural safety above biomedical standards of practice.

Without it, who will have the final say when hospital staff and Indigenous healers disagree on the importance of those ceremonies?

To ensure all parties are granted mutual respect and decision-making power, I suggest the power differential that exists between hospital staff and Indigenous healers be addressed and negotiated at the outset of this collaboration.

Elena Henwood
Oak Bay

Look to the future, not to the past

Re: “What O’Toole should have said in his speech,” commentary, April 17.

Gwyn Morgan dismisses our prime minister and finance minister as a teacher and journalist, thus seemingly unqualified to understand anything about economics or finance.

Are we to assume those employed as teachers and journalists do so because of limited capabilities, and any knowledge or skills that led them to those professions or gained since are of no consequence?

Chrystia Freeland’s biography states she was a Rhodes scholar, editor for an international financial publication, and authored two award winning books on economic systems.

What are the qualifications for finance minister? Clearly not a lawyer either as the writer gives Erin O’Toole a failing grade. Maybe a career politician instead?

How realistic is it for our economic strategy to stop relying on Chinese imports? This has been going on for decades, never deterred by any federal government.

It is not likely Canadian consumers will stop rushing to malls and big box stores and ordering online. Retailers such as Walmart, Costco and Amazon have much support and clout.

Rather than our fortunes depending on the oil and gas industry, there may be a focus on a new order.

Among the world’s highest valued public companies are those involved in consumerism and surveillance capitalism, and fossil-fuel companies now seem to be rebranding as energy companies.

It is time to look at where we should be going, not where we have been.

Janice Davis
Oak Bay

We need suggestions to beat the OD crisis

There is a sad crisis regarding the growing number of opioid overdoses.

Last year saw 1,724 deaths and the cumulative total is 7,073. At what number do we really decide to do everything possible to reduce these statistics?

So many families are permanently devastated.

There is no disagreement in suggestions to decriminalize possession of small amounts of hard drugs. Yet despite best intentions and safe-injection sites, deaths inexorably rise.

Surely, we have reached the point when everyone can agree current remedies are not working. Continued failed protocols produce the same appalling result. Is our only recourse to accept the status quo?

And what do our politicians offer but platitudes and promises, such as a safe-injection site on every corner.

Or should we consider other possible options, however difficult or unpleasant?

No. 1: Is it possible to reduce the hard drug availability with more resources targeting suppliers, thus interrupting that supply chain? Do we even know where most of these drugs come from?

No. 2: Are drug traffickers mass murderers, selling lethal drugs for big profits? Or are they merely unfortunate victims who require more counselling and early childhood intervention?

Perhaps the punishment should fit the crime. It must be so frustrating for the police to see convicted dealers given inconsequential sentences. The judicial system’s “catch and release” program is no deterrent whatsoever.

So, sell hard drugs, do hard time.

Does anyone have any better suggestions other than prayer and hope?

John Billett

Consistency needed in health orders

Why this toothlessness on Dr. Bonnie Henry’s part regarding tourism, both locally and provincially?

Restaurants are closed, as are other indoor activities as they are not deemed to be safe. But what is the rationale regarding the horse-drawn carriage industry, which are seen regularly in James Bay?

Is it because they operate outside and are therefore deemed safe? I thought the name of the game was to discourage all tourism in all our communities — especially from out-of-town visitors.

Why these double standards? Is the horse-and-carriage trade an essential service?

Kate Hanley

Give the seniors’ boost to those who need it

As a 75-year-old I qualify for the boost for seniors in the federal budget, but my younger (72) wife does not. This is age discrimination.

However, neither of us really needs this extra money, either the $500 lump sum or the 10 per cent increase per month.

It would seem much more effective to seniors, in general, if this extra budgeted money was added to what seniors on the Guaranteed Income Supplement get. It will do much more good there than in the pockets of those who don’t truly need this “largess.”

David Hogg


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