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Breakfast-special politics

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Re Wynne Accuses Tim Hortons Founders' Heirs Of Bullying Staff (Report on Business, Jan. 5): Instead of focusing on the Tim Hortons in Cobourg and the obvious (?) ability of the owners, Ron Joyce Jr. and his wife, Jeri Horton-Joyce, to absorb the cost of Ontario's 20-per-cent increase in the minimum wage, I suggest going to a town like Perth and interviewing the owner of the restaurant where we have a weekly breakfast meeting.

The breakfast special went from $6.95 to $7.99 last week. The nice lady at the cash register, who also owns the restaurant, said it was mainly because of the increase in the minimum wage. She and her staff cannot work any harder, and I expect, unlike the Joyce family, she cannot easily afford to absorb it. I expect she will now lose customers, and I expect a similar scenario is playing out across the province in numerous small businesses.

Employers who cannot afford to take the hit will now think twice about hiring staff at $14 an hour, and/or increase their prices, and/or reduce their staff or their hours. We all agree everyone should be paid wages they can live on, but it is not as simple as Premier Kathleen Wynne thinks. She should talk to Hugh Segal about a system of guaranteed annual incomes.

Perhaps the Premier and all MPPs should reduce their salaries, benefits, pensions and perks by 20 per cent, retroactive to Jan. 1? That may give them a little more credibility when they tell the Joyce family to take the hit.

Greg Anderson, Perth, Ont.

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Tim Hortons was already scraping the bottom of a deep barrel in its poor employee relations, but really, dealing with the minimum-wage increase by telling workers they have to put any tips they get in the till? How low can you go? Not even a month into the year and the 2018 Scrooge Award has already been sewn up by the Toronto-area Tims that came up with this one.

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Double-double hypocrisy.

Sarah Glenn, Calgary

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Canada's cautious ways

Hand-wringing about our place in the world is so very Canadian (What Will It Take For Trudeau To Split From Harper? – Jan. 4).

Any Canadian leader must ensure that Canada is not whip-sawing foreign policy just to separate a government from "the last one." While Stephen Harper's government talked a mean-ish streak about the UN, they paid Canada's dues promptly and provided very significant development support (sometimes slowly – but always eventually).

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One can be idealistic about the UN and its embodiment of our grandest aspirations for a fairer, peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. One must also be pragmatic. For a country grown by trade, built by diversity, lifted by global ties, offering quiet but vital innovations – drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 70 years ago (John Humphrey), negotiating the first UN peacekeeping mission 60 years ago (Lester Pearson), enabling the Ottawa Landmines Treaty 20 years ago (Lloyd Axworthy), and advocating for the adoption of the UN Day of the Girl (Rona Ambrose) – the UN has been the stage for forwarding trade, development, security and human rights by all governments.

I applaud the Prime Minister for moving cautiously in volatile geopolitical times. In foreign capitals, his boldness on gender, climate, trade and inclusion is greeted with enthusiastic support. This may not be clear from the snows of Ottawa, but it's fresh news from the front.

Kathryn White, president, United Nations Association in Canada

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Diplomacy with Iran

Re Making Sense Of The Protests In Iran (editorial, Jan. 5): You say that Canada's response to the protests in Iran is "halfhearted," citing a Foreign Affairs spokesman (and aren't we using spokesperson?) who said Canada will continue to seek to engage with the Iranian government, even as he lauded the bravery of the Iranians who are calling for the end of the same government.

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You then end by saying that restoring diplomatic ties with Iran is never a bad idea, but pursuing that goal would be lending authority to a government that many Iranians no longer trust.

Talk about "halfhearted" – or as my dad would have said, "talking out of both sides of your month …"

Jim Duholke, North Vancouver

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Capacity exceeded

Re We Need To Solve Ontario's Health-Care Capacity Crisis (Jan. 4): It is heartening to see the provincial government swing into action by expanding hospital capacity and committing to additional long-term care capacity.

While this will take some pressure off the system, it is not a long-term solution. For that, hospitals, long-term care, and home- and community-care providers must work together to strengthen the entire health system.

With provincial ER wait times soaring and many hospitals above capacity, it's time to reinforce home and community-care services, which add huge value to the health system at a fraction of the cost of institutional care.

Hospitals make up a third of Ontario's health budget, while home care and community support make up only 5 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. Both categories have increased by less than a percentage point since 2008; many of the not-for-profit home and community-care providers haven't received any increase in operational funding in years, which has led to wait lists or reduced services.

You report that 3,000 beds every day are filled by patients not requiring urgent care, which delays hospital care to those in need. Increased investment in home and community care will help more people return home to live independently for as long as possible, thereby increasing system capacity and efficiency.

Deborah Simon, CEO, Ontario Community Support Association

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Multiethnic, in Canada

Re All In The Family: Finding A Multiethnic Identity In Canada's Mosaic (Jan. 3): Your thought-provoking article focused on the problems faced by multiethnic persons, and I agree that our social environment includes stereotypical messages about various ethnic groups.

But there are also many multiethnic children and youth who have a positive attitude toward ethnic diversity. As the parent of a multiethnic child, my overarching goal was to help my child become an adult who would be well-prepared to utilize the social and economic opportunities available in this country, and to perform his/her multiple roles and responsibilities within their family, community and country.

It is important that children develop a positive self-image, and parents must be prepared to counter negative societal messages with positive stories and images about multiethnic heritage. Collectively, we all have a responsibility to eliminate and challenge stereotypical messages about ethnic groups, and discriminatory practices in various institutions, such as the educational system, the workplace and the criminal justice system.

Vera Mahabir, Edmonton

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