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Letters, week of Feb. 12

Sarnians drive too fast, says Ebike rider Sir: Upon reading the article in last week's newspaper on the lack of driving etiquette, I could not help but recall a number of close calls that I've had while driving in Sarnia.
Letters to the editor

Sarnians drive too fast, says Ebike rider

Sir: Upon reading the article in last week's newspaper on the lack of driving etiquette, I could not help but recall a number of close calls that I've had while driving in Sarnia.

Many people may have seen me riding around the city on my Ebike. Unfortunately, there are some who I feel have completely missed seeing me when they really should have. I have observed some Sarnia drivers being in such a rush to get from one place to another, cutting into my lane too close in front of me, or following too close behind me.

If my bike were to hit a patch of ice (or anything else dangerous to road users on two wheels), and go down, taking me with it, the vehicles behind me need to be able to stop quickly enough, so as to avoid running me over.

While Ebikes can only travel at 32km/h, just over half the speed of most vehicles, I don't think this is an excuse to risk my life so that others can get somewhere just a few seconds faster. On many occasions, I have been passed by drivers who are eager to get somewhere in a hurry, only to have me meet them at the next red light. This saves them no time, and uses more fuel.

If drivers understand that driving takes time, and make a habit of leaving an additional ten minutes to get from one place to another, people will be in less of a rush to get to their destination.

I understand that schedules can be tight, but being involved in an accident, even a minor collision where police aren't called, can still take at least five to ten minutes. Even more if the police do have to show up.

Is shaving a few seconds off your commute really worth risking ten minutes to an hour, higher insurance premiums, and perhaps, someone's life?

Matthew Toffelmire



‘Front-line staff’ comment insulting to ONA member

Sir: I would like to respond to recent comments made by Erie St. Clair Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) CEO Lori Marshall regarding the strike of 3,000 Ontario Nurses’ Association members across the province.

My colleagues and I (regulated health professionals such as registered nurses, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists and nurse practitioners) are among those CCAC members.

Ms. Marshall was quoted as claiming that the aforementioned professionals are not “front-line staff.” However, the CCAC’s website clearly states that CCACs are “delivering direct nursing care to some of Ontario’s most vulnerable patient populations,” citing programs such as Rapid Response Nurses, Mental Health and Addictions Nurses, and Palliative Care Nurse Practitioners.

Simply put, Care Coordinators do just that – coordinate and provide care when patients are most at risk: following hospitalization, a significant medical event or during a transitional period. To describe our work as anything but “front line” is illogical, insulting, degrading and a complete untruth.

Furthermore, Ms. Marshall stated that non-union staff members are being trained and stepping into triage referrals to ensure that the impact on the community is minimal. But it is both disrespectful and completely farfetched to assume it will be business as usual. The “contingency plans” put into place by CCACs across the province are inappropriate and certainly will not take the place of the work done each day by Care Coordinators. Patients are remaining in hospital longer than necessary and residents awaiting long-term care placement are being delayed. Each day this job action continues, more and more patients are unnecessarily put at risk by a CCAC employer whose official mission speaks to delivering a “seamless experience through the health system” and providing “equitable access, individualized care coordination and quality health care.” I assure you that with 3,000 highly-skilled health professionals across Ontario walking the picket line, this mission is absolutely unattainable.

I encourage the community to take a stand and help us support our patients. Please write to your MPP, call the Local Health Integration Network, email the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Dr. Eric Hoskins, along with Ms. Marshall, and demand the CCAC employer negotiate a fair deal. Please help us advocate for the future of community care in this province!

Sara Tius



Striking workers play key health role

Sir: I am an Intake Care Coordinator at the Erie St. Clair Community Care Access Centre (CCAC), and one of the 3,000 CCAC members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association who are on the picket lines for a fair contract.

When you need services through the CCAC, I am the first regulated health care professional you talk to. I listen to your story. I assess your health care needs. With your input, I develop your service plan. You may have a wound that will heal quickly, or you may just have been told that you have terminal cancer. Your world has just fallen apart. I am there to give you the support you need. I do not rush you as you cry on the other end of the phone. I cry with you.

Someone you love may have dementia. You may have tried, sometimes for years, to look after them – and yourself. You are exhausted and don’t know where to turn. But then we talk. As a regulated health care professional with years of experience, I am able to identify needs that you didn’t even know existed. We develop a plan together. It may involve immediate services. It will involve a face-to-face assessment by one of my co-workers, a Community Care Coordinator. With your permission, it will also involve referrals by me to other community agencies. As a group, we will support you.

What you don’t know is that I have been limited as to how much support I can provide. What you don’t know is that if you need more support than I am able to give you, as soon as I hang up the phone, I go straight to my manager’s office and plead your case. I show why you or your loved one requires more support. I work for you to get the extra help you need. I am your voice where you have no voice. I am on your side and I fight hard for you.

But who is fighting for you now?

My co-workers and I want to return to work. We want to continue to fight for you. Please support us so we can do just that.

Margaret Otten



Let’s not waste our surplus food

Sir: We are relatively new to Sarnia (seven years) and are dismayed at the large number of people who require support for their basic needs, and in particular food.

From experience in the UK, prior to our move to Canada, we were involved with the same problems and were an integral part of a movement that lobbied supermarkets for surplus food.

We acknowledged that a certain amount of food waste is unavoidable and that not all surplus food can be redistributed, but some can. Most food that is surplus is fresh, such as fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products.

It is fit for human consumption and compliant with current Health and Safety Legislation.

A partnership with local supermarkets to feed those in genuine need with this surplus food should not be difficult to organize. We already have the Inn of the Good Shepherd, to name but one.

There will always be those who abuse charitable, well-meaning organizations, but that should not be an obstacle to providing those in genuine need with fresh food that would otherwise be disposed of in landfills, etc.

Peter Clarke



On sun, wind and fossil fuels

Sir: Why are some people in Ontario afraid of new technology?

Why do some people claim that wind energy causes health issues? Windmills have been around since the 13th century. Additionally, there are over twenty vetted studies showing no health problems with modern windmills.

Why do they whine about subsidizing solar or wind power when the world subsidizes fossil fuels?

A recent Globe & Mail article stated: "Fossil fuels subsidies are starving innovation." This subsidy amounts to TWO TRILLION dollars per year. Additionally, many big investment funds (a.k.a. the smart money) including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, are divesting themselves of fossil fuel investments - estimated at fifty billion dollars of divestment, and looking into new green technologies.

The 'Not in my Back Yard' groups focus their ire on wind power based on health.

Is Alberta that much different or ahead of Ontario? Based on population, Alberta has more modern windmills than Ontario and almost no health complaints in their twenty-year history. Even oil and gas rich Alberta is diversifying into green energy.

Why is Ontario having difficulty with wind energy? Dr. Mundt, a recognized expert in epidemiology, stated at a recent hearing in Ontario that 'we' (Ontario) have been pre-conditioned to see health problems with modern windmills. Dr. Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Heath at the University of Sydney, is more pointed. He ties self-reported health issues directly to anti-wind energy activists.

A few more simple questions:

Will people of Ontario swallow the propaganda from the anti-wind group "Not in My Back Yard" attitude without questioning the supposed information they are disseminating?

The Ontario government knows the benefits of renewable energy systems; why not tell everyone about the benefits? Michigan promotes the benefits of their green energy programs.

I am not against the Canadian oil and gas industry; I would still like to see at least two of the three pipelines finished on a reasonable schedule.

But I am also 100% behind hedging our bets by supporting and promoting green energy. Let's follow Alberta's lead and put a few of our eggs in an alternative basket.

Dean de Jong


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