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Flowers are shown outside Maison Herron, a long term care home in the Montreal suburb of Dorval, Sunday, April 12, 2020, as COVID-19 cases rise in Canada and around the world.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

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Long-term fear

Re Removing Seniors From Care Homes Is Not The Solution To COVID-19 Fears (Online, April 8): People whose families are in long-term care facilities across Canada are hurting. On the sidelines, helpless and heartbroken, we can’t but watch in horror as the prospect of losing our family members unfolds. That they could die suffering and alone. There is terror, hopelessness and guilt.

There is frustration, and rage. We knew what happened in Italy. We were warned. Why do governments not have a proper plan? When I spoke to frightened staff where my mother lives, I was told there is nothing we can do now but pray. How can this be? Where is the protection for staff, for my mom and families?

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Why has my government not taken stricter measures when we knew over a month ago? I want government agencies to hear my plea and those of my fellow Canadians: Take the appropriate measures to protect people in long-term care facilities now.

Jessica Andrews Montreal

Mining safety

Re Teck Accused Of Endangering The Health Of B.C. Miners (Report on Business, April 9): Teck Resources has put in place extensive safeguards to protect the health of employees and communities.

There have been no COVID-19 cases at our mine sites to date, and just this week the Interior Health Authority in British Columbia reviewed Teck’s protocols and conducted an on-site audit, which concluded that it is “satisfied that Teck has put the recommendations from the province in place and have strong protocols in place with regards to COVID-19.”

Teck and its primary union the United Steelworkers are also working together with the goal of safe operating conditions for workers. Any worker has the right to refuse unsafe work, and we will not hesitate to suspend operations if we cannot operate safely. Our focus is ensuring that all our people are safe and feel safe.

While many companies have had to lay off tens of thousands of workers, Teck is working to have the necessary precautions in place – following guidance from government and public health agencies – to maintain employment for thousands of Canadians.

Robin Sheremeta senior vice-president, Coal, Teck Resources; Vancouver

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Stephen Hunt Director, United Steelworkers (USW), District 3; Burnaby, B.C.

New world order

Re Financial Advice (Letters, April 7): Unlike a letter writer, I do not think Royal Bank of Canada president David McKay’s contribution rings hollow at all. Aside from a focus on finance, I saw his opinion as inspirational and forward-looking.

Canada’s successful recovery from this crisis will likely require dominant positioning of disaster planning, mitigation and adaptation in society, with governance that ensures authority to trained emergency-management practitioners in “peacetime.” Indeed, I believe we will need to bring emergency management into the ethos of Canadian communities, to make it part of the social fabric.

As Mr. McKay suggests, by aggressively investing in technology, skills, logistical networks and problem-solving-focused training for Canadian youth, we can learn again to collaborate, like our pioneer ancestors did, to build a secure, prosperous and self-reliant country – from communities to top government.

Peter Avis Captain (N)(Ret’d); Kingston

I had hoped that an acknowledged thought leader such as Royal Bank of Canada president David McKay would recognize that, post-pandemic, Canada should be re-prioritizing what is most valuable to society and, in particular, who is deemed an “essential” worker.

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It has become obvious that long-term care personnel are vital to the well-being of a balanced society – and vastly underpaid. Long-term care homes should be running with three times the staff. They should be paid such that they do not have to work multiple jobs, with benefits and job security befitting the essential nature of their service.

Ditto a similar sea change in how we now regard cashiers, transport workers and everyone involved in the maintenance of vital supply chains. None of us would be able to survive without these essential services and the people who deliver them.

So rather than focus on technology, “speed and scale,” as the takeaway from this crisis, I would prefer that society take a fresh look at our essential priorities and reorder our thinking accordingly.

Eve Giannini Toronto

Aid accountability

Re Strength In Numbers (Letters, April 8): We certainly should not forget our international humanitarian responsibilities during a world crisis. My concern is a letter writer’s proposal for debt forgiveness.

If sub-Saharan Africa is paying US$52-billion, then lenders are receiving US$52-billion. Lending countries have deficits of their own, so the financial impact on deficits of forgiveness is the same as giving additional aid. However, I believe debt forgiveness masks the action from voters.

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Debt forgiveness lacks controls and may reward the worst performers, with no guarantees the benefit will reach the people most in need. Corruption and self-serving behaviour are present in some of these countries. Foreign aid, while not immune to corruption, is done with controls and more likely to reach people in need.

Our government should increase aid by redirecting these payments to agencies known to deliver effective relief, not necessarily to governments with suspect track records. The money should be directed to the needy, not the greedy.

Stuart McRae Toronto

Ergo this letter

Re Seven Inspirational Set-ups For Your Home Office (Report on Business, April 6): Working from home is our new normal. While the featured designs were quite visually attractive, none seemed to incorporate ergonomics. As such, they are likely to provoke a host of musculoskeletal issues.

A standard kitchen table, at 29 inches, is almost certainly too high for most computer work. Sitting in non-adjustable chairs provides minimal back support and positions the natural resting forearm height well below desk height for most. And reaching for a keyboard on a high surface will inevitably cause pressure under the forearms and pain in the neck or shoulders.

Additionally, rigid backrests with no adjustability and no lumbar support can lead to lower back pain. Low laptop screens promote head-down, non-neutral postures and potential neck pain. These design-forward but ergonomically unsound workstations may leave most searching for further pain-relieving adaptations. Moving and stretching more often is key.

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And perhaps a sequel – “Ergonomics tips for your home office” – is forthcoming?

Cheryl Witoski Registered physiotherapist, ergonomics consultant, Injury Prevention Plus; Ottawa

The other side

Re Nothing Will Be Perfect Again – And That’s Just Fine (Opinion, April 11): Ten things I’ll do after COVID-19: I’ll wash my hands more often. I’ll stay home if I’m sick. I’ll get vaccinated. I’ll thank people working at the grocery store. I’ll donate more. I’ll support a basic income. I’ll want better care for seniors. I’ll value science. I’ll recognize the efforts of front-line workers. I’ll be very grateful to be Canadian.

Reinhart Reithmeier Toronto

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