Today’s letters: Ontario teachers are getting a bad rap – Ottawa Citizen

Stop dumping on our teachers

I am sick and tired of all the negative comments about teachers lately, especially over talks of negotiations with the Ontario government.

If you are a teacher or married to a teacher, you know they do not have “two months of holidays in the summer.” July is used to take upgrading courses (at their own expense), and in August teachers need one or two weeks in meetings preparing for the next year and preparing their classrooms. That doesn’t leave much holiday time.

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Stop dumping on teachers and appreciate the important work they do for our new generation.

Kathleen Hall, Ottawa (retired teacher)

Paper straws aren’t all the same

As a consulting engineer who has provided services to the pulp and paper industry internationally for more than 40 years, I have learned that you need to have a look at the source data when reading articles like this one.

Reviewing the Belgian study, I found that this data was for straws available in Belgium. Of the 20 paper straws tested, 10 were made in Asia, five in Europe and five from unknown sources. According to the study, the Asian straws contained the highest amount of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), with the European straw containing much less, or none.

What most readers may not know is that the use of PFAS in most consumer products, including paper, is going through a phased-in ban in the United States and Canada with a complete ban as of Dec. 31, 2023. Many countries in the EU also have PFAS bans but these are on a country-by-country basis with differing time lines.

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As a result of the phased PFAS ban in the U.S. and Canada, chemical companies have been working on developing environmentally friendly alternatives for water, oil and grease resistance additives. And, these eco-friendly alternatives are in use today as coatings for paper.

Bottom line is that, if you want to use paper straws, look for ones manufactured in the United States and Canada as they will be PFAS-free.

Bob Hurter, Orléans

2023: Here’s how our garden grew

We certainly did not get typical spring/summer weather in 2023. It started with periods of dry weather, followed by periods of heavy rain. Luckily, we had outstanding weather for perennial gardens. Some plants that I had not seen for a few years have re-appeared, while some bloomed longer than usual.

It was amazing to see how the sunshine, plus the extra rain, enabled plants to grow larger. Thank goodness for the green twine and stakes that kept them from falling over. Even the Red Bee Balm (Monarda), one of my favourite plants, flourished. I believe that everyone should have the Bee Balm because we have witnessed large numbers of Humming Birds, Humming Bird Moths, and a variety of bee species that were attracted to it.

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From the spring to the fall, a variety of flowers grow in our yard. Passersby stop to comment “there is always something in bloom in your yard.” This summer has turned out to be exceptional.

When it got too hot outdoors, our rain barrel supplied the water required for the potted flowers, shrubs and transplanting. The rain water provided important natural minerals and nutrients not present in city tap water.

I have really enjoyed my time working in my perennial garden. It has been very rewarding.

Gabrielle Dalcourt, Orléans


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