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People wait in line at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at Olympic Stadium in Montreal on April 8, 2021.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

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Quotable Prince

Re Prince Philip, 99, Has Died ‘Peacefully,’ Buckingham Palace Says (Online, April 9): Much has been made of Prince Philip’s efforts to relax admirers who sit in stunned silence when royals enter a room. One time in the late 1970s, he held a press conference during a visit to Calgary. I was a reporter with the Albertan at the time, one of many journalists eager to ask pushy questions.

But when he entered the room at the convention centre, we just sat there with our mouths open, flabbergasted to see in real life somebody we had heard so much about. We held our pens high above our notebooks, not daring to move.

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Prince Philip had seen this many times. He broke the ice with one rude comment: “You look like a bunch of stunned mullets.”

We all laughed, put away our pushy questions and had an enjoyable press conference, with good and complimentary coverage in the next day’s paper.

Oliver Bertin Former Globe reporter, Toronto

More specifically

Re O’Toole Promises Public Inquiry Into Pandemic Response If Tories Win (April 7): Erin O’Toole should advocate for a specific change that could be made to improve our COVID-19 response. For example, he should call for all our governments to fund sick days and timely vaccine visits for essential workers.

If Mr. O’Toole called for that, that would really be notable, and voteable.

Brian Emes Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

Pandemic perspective

Re Politicians Are Using Their Best Judgment, For Better Or Worse (April 8): I found John Ibbitson’s column to be a balanced and fair report on the efforts of our politicians, as well as the many volunteers involved in acquiring and rolling out vaccines. We all should be grateful that we have vaccines as soon as we have, given the fact that normally it can take years to develop them.

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Sheila Kappele Toronto

Re When The End Is In Sight (Opinion, April 3): The plea to pick an end date seems ridiculous. Governments have made mistakes, but a greater mistake would be not recognizing that, in this particular game, the goal posts do change because information and contexts will change.

We all need hope and governments have recognized that: The hope is that by summer most of us will have had a first jab. Yes, we may have to hold off on some hugging until the fall, but we are not going to die. Seems fair to me.

Sheila Petzold Ottawa

Long-term requirements

Re Get The Shot Or Stay Home (Opinion, April 3): The room is approximately 18 feet by 12 feet. It has a single bed, side table, chair, television and wardrobe. There’s just enough space for a walker in the corner. Long-term care is where my mother endures solitary confinement day after day.

She no longer has the companionship of my father, who died last November. Her only meaningful social contact is through my vaccinated sibling, her designated essential caregiver. Why? An unvaccinated staff member contracted COVID-19, sending the facility back into lockdown for a third time. My mother and her vaccinated co-residents, in the last years or months of their lives, do not deserve this punishment.

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Implementing a policy of unpaid leave for unvaccinated health and long-term care workers could end this cycle, and would return quality of life to our elders. Surely they deserve this.

Barbara Wilson Cambridge, Ont.

Discussions regarding the vaccination of workers in long-term care is often framed as a human-rights issue. Perhaps a solution can be reached by framing it as a requirement of the job: to provide close-up care for those most at risk of dying from a disease, which is passed on when a caregiver is not vaccinated.

It is more difficult to justify vaccine refusal as a “right” when it seems to negate the very thing a job was designed to fulfill in the first place.

Madeline Burghardt Toronto

It is unions that have previously gone to court over the issue of whether health care workers can be compelled to get a vaccine, so this is an appeal to them. The job of a union is to protect the collective welfare of its members. Union leadership should embark on educational efforts to overcome vaccine hesitancy among members, and bring them up to speed on the science.

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Aren’t health care workers supposed to be working in an evidence-based field?

Lynda Lange Toronto

A heavy-handed order that likely violates the Charter rights of health care workers should not be needed.

These folks have been working the front lines of the pandemic for more than a year now. They have faced unimaginable danger, stress and fatigue. This moment should not call on us to penalize health care workers and potentially increase already-devastating staffing shortages.

Instead, we should be taking time to answer their questions about vaccines, and provide the assurances they need to make the right decision. And we should be making it easy for our essential workers to be vaccinated, either with pop-up clinics at workplaces or by ensuring paid time off to attend a clinic.

Mark Hancock National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees; Ottawa

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I live in a retirement home where the staff have worked diligently to keep us safe. However, caregivers from the Local Health Integration Network come in daily to provide care to aging residents, and almost weekly some residents are put into 10-day quarantine because an unvaccinated worker has tested positive.

These workers do not seem to care if one of their charges dies. Those who refuse to be vaccinated should not be allowed to enter nursing and retirement homes, and should be required to stay home without pay. Their right to refuse the vaccine should not supersede the right of the elderly to a safe home.

Mary-Jane Large Toronto

Onward, upward

Re After Five Years Clean, Reflections On The Rocky Road To Recovery (April 3): Trey Helten and his work at the Overdose Prevention Society is exactly the kind of reporting that can bring Canadians to see that ideology-based drug prohibition has failed. We should push politicians to embrace a humane and compassionate approach to drug addiction, starting with decriminalization.

Karen Taube Edmonton

Thanks to reporter Andrea Woo for a very real, very hope-filled story. The substance-abuse epidemic and the tragedies spiraling from it seem overwhelming, making it difficult not to feel hopeless. Trey Helten, in his climb up from the “bottom rung” and his inspiring dedication to then reach back down to help others, reminds me of the true goodness we all have within, our need to access it and our duty to recognize it in every one of our fellow citizens.

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Kathy Bacile White Rock, B.C.

Right on

Re Get The Next Shots Into The Right Arms (Editorial, April 6): I wish the importance of this had been made clear before my wife and I received our first shots – in our left arms. Please advise.

Nicholas Pashley Toronto

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