Re: Why Canadians can’t have ultralow-cost air travel, Opinion, Oct. 21
Jonah Prousky’s opinion column on airport costs is loaded with inaccuracies and false premises.
Canada’s aviation infrastructure costs are not especially high, but they are paid for differently than they are elsewhere. In the United States, which he uses as a comparison, airport infrastructure is paid for by the government and is therefore supported by tax revenue. However, under the Canadian model, major airports are non-profit corporations that collect fees based on the people who use airports. The fees, which are collected by airlines, are used to self-finance infrastructure. Our airports have saved Canadian taxpayers more than $30 billion in infrastructure costs. Only the people and companies who use airports pay for them.
Of course, cost matters and more government support would be welcome. The best way to lessen the cost of airport infrastructure in this country is for the federal government to reinvest the $400 million in rents that airports pay the treasury annually. The other issue our nation faces in developing a flourishing ultralow-cost carrier (ULCC) model is one of density. ULCC’s make money on volume and ancillary charges such as seats and bags. The fundamental difference is Canada only has approximately five per cent of the population of Europe with the same land mass.
Prousky’s chosen examples are arrival hall backups and long lines at security from the pandemic restart, which came from pandemic testing measures, low federal agency staffing and poor on-time performance by the airlines.
According to delay statistics catalogued by the carriers and recently published by Transport Canada, 58 per cent of all Canadian flight delays in 2022 were the result of operational or safety causes within carrier control — causes such as overly optimistic scheduling, inefficient fleet maintenance, and an inability to hire and retain pilots and ground handlers.
Monette Pasher, president, Canadian Airports Council, Ottawa
In praise of the performing arts
Re: Building mental wellness in young people through the power of performing arts, Opinion, Oct. 21
We are not born in a vacuum, but as social creatures we need companionship and need to feel as if we are part of a larger team/group. During the pandemic, our youth suffered from forced isolation and online learning. Beyond that, so much in our society is virtual/online so our children often do not socialize and will have difficulty transitioning to the real world as adults.
Last year, my youngest son took a theatre class in high school. He discovered that he had a talent for performance as he ended up garnering many lead roles. This helped him immensely to build self-confidence and lasting personal friendships. It also gave his mind respite as he had a heavy schedule with challenging courses.
Performing arts not only encourages socialization and builds confidence, but also gives children a much-needed intellectual break. It should definitely be encouraged.
Michael Pravica, Henderson, Nevada
Alberta pension plan has merit
Controversy over an Alberta pension plan led me to read the LifeWorks report (Toronto consulting firm), and parts of the CPP Act.
Alberta has the right to withdraw and benefits or plan liabilities need to be equivalent. An APP can continue using CPP to invest the funds, which brings no additional risk. Premier Danielle Smith has suggested this.
The APP transfer amount has been reduced by about half the CPP formula by LifeWorks. CPP’s “pay as you go” approach was changed in 1997, to accumulate a fund. The primary contributors between 2008 and 2017 (CTF report) have been B.C. ($5 billion), Ontario ($7.5 billion), and Alberta ($27.9 billion). Alberta has paid in more than 60 per cent of CPP benefits for some time — an APP could reduce Alberta’s risk.
The APP transfer amount calculated by LifeWorks was $334 billion. A local economist made an estimate of $130 billion. Might $232 billion make sense since Smith wants a hard number?
The APP actuarial calculated premium rate could be reduced to save Albertans $5 billion per year. Why are Albertans giving away $5 billion per year?Why did we not change this 10 years ago?
Let’s look past the political alarmism and make a rational decision about this.
Orin Grovum, Calgary
UCP math doesn’t add up
How can we trust a government that does not support common sense, or life-saving public health policies with our retirement security?
It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the premier’s math simply does not add up. Ontario’s population sits at over 14 million and has exceeded Alberta’s population of 4.4 million people since 1951. I am sure those folks have been paying into CPP since its inception in 1966. The same is true for the total population of the remaining provinces and territories, excluding Quebec. If you subtract Quebec’s 8.8 million people from Canada’s total population of 39 million, that leaves you with 30.2 million people.
If the UCP thinks that Alberta’s 4.4 million people outweighs the contribution of the remaining 25.8 million, it is simply not true. The assertion that Alberta has a claim on more than 50 per cent of the CPP fund is a slap in the face to over 25 million people.
My wife and I relocated as seniors to Alberta because of the security this province afforded. We have come to love the land and the people here. However, if the UCP is successful in this bid to rob the rest of Canada and install a provincial pension plan at the cost of our CPP, we will be leaving. I do not doubt that others will follow and many more will be reluctant to consider coming here.
Peter Burns, Lethbridge
Will Alberta buy in to pension push?
I’m in favour of leaving the CPP and creating a provincial plan — with one condition. After working in Alberta for 44 years and watching government after government squander our provincial fortune year after year, I think just once the province should invest directly into the pockets of Albertans.
After terms are reached with the CPP and we agree on an amount, the Alberta government should match it — the way an employer might match RRSP contributions. If we can extract $200 billion from CPP, then Premier Danielle Smith should also kick in $200 billion. A one-time matching.
I thought Peter Lougheed’s Heritage Fund was supposed to put us at “Norway” status, but it has been a bit of a nothing burger.
Rob Simpson, Calgary
A warning in global politics
I was elated by the results of elections in Spain and Poland, in which the extreme right took a beating. But now we learn that one of Putin’s allies has been named to the powerful position of Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
I would urge all Canadians, especially Albertans, to put aside their petty quarrels and make some strong, visible statement of support for Ukraine and the battle that country is fighting against fascism.
Murray Gibbs, Calgary