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March 19: The cost of car commuting – letters to the ROB editor

Motorists are stuck in traffic on the Gardiner Expressway near Jameson Ave. in Toronto, February 26, 2016.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Car-commuting costs

Re. An Overlooked Cost Of Suburban Real Estate – Commuting (March 14): Rob Carrick offers a revealing perspective on commuting by car, but the total cost to a household will likely be far greater.

His estimate of $375 a month for a daily commute of 120 kilometres boils down to $0.16 per kilometre. By contrast, the federal allowance for use of one's personal car in Ontario is $0.54 per kilometre.

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That allowance accounts for all the costs, fixed and variable, of vehicle ownership – notably depreciation. This is applicable to Mr. Carrick's scenario because remote communities are often poorly served by public transit and the decision to commute by car will occasion the purchase of a second vehicle.

Often, the commuter drives the newer car. As it ages, it depreciates – or with the purchase of a used car, it brings higher maintenance costs. Taking the long view, there is also the cost of building and maintaining roads and highways deducted from our gross incomes every year.

Most of us have to hurt financially before we make enlightened choices, and the daily car commute strains family resources much more than most realize.

Glen Williams, Mount Royal, Que.

Bigger than the bees

Re Farmers Prepare For Fight Against Pesticide Laws (March 9): Grain farmers are protesting new Ontario regulations limiting the use of neonics, the pesticides that have been linked to the widespread deaths of bees and other insect pollinators. As health professionals, we want to say that this issue is bigger than the bees.

After reviewing more than 800 scientific studies, the international Task Force on Systemic Pesticides concluded that neonics pose a threat to "ecosystem services such as pollination that are vital to food security and sustainable development."

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Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have estimated that if all insect pollinators around the world were lost, global fruit supplies would decrease by 23 per cent, vegetables by 16 per cent and nuts and seeds by 22 per cent. They predicted that these changes could increase human deaths by 1.42 million people a year.

– Kim Perrotta, executive director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Toronto

If your luck holds

Re Is A Bigger CPP The Solution? First, Identify The Problem (March 16): Had an enhanced Canada Pension Plan regime been in place during my career, it would definitely have solved my current financial situation as a retiree. It also would have saved the federal and provincial governments the considerable and much appreciated Guaranteed Income Supplements I have received.

Perhaps Finn Poschmann has been blessed with a stable marriage and not been faced with litigation and support costs. But something like half of Canadian marriages fail. Both sides of these families find it exceedingly difficult to get from one paycheque to the next. Without a compulsory savings vehicle, both intact and broken families with children will not be putting money aside for retirement.

Many of us secure well-paying careers only to be cut off at the top of our careers. Occupational disruption is an increasing fact that Mr. Poschmann has so far had the good fortune to avoid.

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Those whose personal circumstances are not as fortunate will greatly benefit from an enhanced CPP, especially those who have an unanticipated early termination to a good career where they worked hard.

– George Haeh, Lethbridge, Alta.

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