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A elderly woman sits alone with Lake Ontario in the background in Toronto on April 27, 2020.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Value of life

Re Once A Retirement Plum For Quebec Elders, Nursing Homes Are Now Symbols Of Neglect (May 8): In a market society, we get what we pay for (most of the time). At dollar-store prices, we can’t get department-store goods. Many recommendations have been made about improving the lot of seniors in care across Canada – all of it calls for more resources from government.

I agree, but until Canadians are prepared to spend more of our wealth in the public sector, and less on private consumption, where are governments to find these resources? Let’s have our politicians stop hyping the undefined plight of the middle class, and start explaining that the quality of public services is not unrelated to the taxes they can, and should, pay.

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Larry Kurtz Hamilton

Re Quebec Makes A Humanitarian Gesture (May 7): Marguerite Blais, Quebec’s Minister of Seniors, has called the lockdown of the senior-care facilities “inhumane.” But as columnist André Picard points out in the same article, "2,114 of the 2,631 Quebeckers who died of COVID-19 lived in an elder-care facility.” This horrifying data should be evidence enough to condemn the reopening of these sites to visitors.

My 99-year-old mother lives in a facility in Montreal’s West Island (COVID-19-free to date). I would ask Ms. Blais: Which would she rather have, a lonely mother or a dead mother?

Nancy Carten Calgary

Bubble burst

Re Cohort Families Provide Support Amid COVID-19 Isolation (May 2): As a lifelong New Brunswicker, I feel fortunate for our low population density, lower volume of international travel and provincial government’s decisive actions. But while our public institutions adapt to serve a diversity of families, living arrangements and socio-economic conditions, the “bubble” policy struck me as remarkably tone-deaf to the realities of so many people here.

The option for two households to isolate together might be great for some nuclear families, but this measure came without any guidance for people with more complex living situations, custody arrangements or high-risk health conditions. With the majority of COVID-19 deaths linked to long-term care, provinces such as New Brunswick with low cases and deaths should focus efforts on protecting the most vulnerable, instead of toying with the population in what I find to be morbid and needless social experiments.

Raven Blue Saint Joh

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Testing, testing

Re Ford Criticizes Medical Officers Over Testing Lag (May 6): As a front-line physician in this battle against COVID-19, I appreciate the efforts of our governments. Although I laud Doug Ford’s goal to increase tests in Ontario to 16,000 a day, we should also be more strategic about front-line testing.

We should be able to access tests 24/7 in hospitals, with reliable results within six hours. This would allow us to protect patients, staff and the public. This is not the situation I have experienced. But it is attainable.

Sanjiv Mathur MD, vice-president, Sudbury and District Medical Society

Book smart?

Re Landlords Avoid Rent-relief Program Over Lack Of Clarity (Report on Business, May 7): A tale of two programs: The Canada Emergency Response Benefit was administered swiftly, while the commercial rent relief initiative has felt like a nightmare for all parties involved.

We are trying to reopen six bookstores, but are hampered by a squeeze on funds in the face of outstanding rents. Our various landlords have said applying for relief is too complicated. And most of our staff is unwilling to return – there is little work incentive for part-time book lovers who are eligible for the CERB. But the sad fact is when the benefit ends, there may be no jobs left.

We need help from landlords and staff to reopen safely. We should all share the pain, or our neighbourhoods will be very different.

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Cathy Jesson Black Bond Books; Surrey, B.C.

Teed off

Re Golf Courses Spring To Life, But It’s A ‘Bare Bones’ Recovery (Report on Business, May 4): I couldn’t believe it when Rob Larocque, director of golf at Bear Mountain, said: “Being a full-service, high-end facility, it’s hard watching a member carrying his own clubs from the car." I am sure anyone who lost his job or is confined to a small room without access to fresh air and green space will be sympathetic to these golfers!

This highlights one of the major challenges I see in lifting COVID-19 restrictions: managing the disparity between those with access to sports and activities and those without.

Gary Gravelle Ottawa

Roll the credits

Re Buffett, Banks And A Credit Crisis Averted (Editorial, May 7): In using a metaphor for the country’s past and present financial challenges, The Globe’s editorial relates that "as the Bank [of Canada]’s No. 2, Tiff Macklem was on the set, and in the assistant director’s chair, for the entire production.” Having been a first assistant director in the film business for nearly 30 years, I can confidently inform readers that an AD is not someone in line of succession to the director, waiting for an opportunity to take over.

It is a director’s vision that turns the script and actors into a realized film. The first AD is the one who plans, organizes and runs the show. And there is definitely no chair involved – an AD who dares to sit down, ever, will soon be looking for another job.

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Bruce Speyer Toronto

Antiques roadshow

Re Europe Marks Victory 75 Years Later (May 8): After the war, Ukrainian refugees soon organized as full a life as they could in Europe’s displaced persons camps. A surprising testimony to that was the publication of George Orwell in translation.

A group in the American sector of occupied Germany received permission from Orwell to translate Animal Farm. It was published in 1947, titled Kolhosp Tvaryn (literally “Collective Farm of the Animals") and included a special introduction by the author, addressed to “a readership about whom I myself know nothing and who may not have had the opportunity to become familiar with me.” U.S. authorities, succumbing to pressure from their anxious Soviet allies, confiscated most of the copies and handed them over for destruction.

Somehow, a small unopened box of this rarity made its way with one of the many Ukrainian refugees to Canada. It ended up at a social evening organized by the Alpha Omega Ukrainian students club at the University of Saskatchewan in 1965; I was given a copy to take home.

I have seen the book advertised by an antiquarian bookshop for US$800. I’d like to donate mine to a good academic library. Inquiries are welcome.

Greg Michalenko Waterloo, Ont.

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