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One reader believes that Jason Kenney, seen here on Feb. 24, 2020, would have trouble coming 'up with a way to blame the East on this one' when it comes to orphan wells.

JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

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Cheque, please

Re Ottawa Announces $1.7-billion To Clean Up Orphan Oil-and-gas Wells In Western Canada (April 18): What could we do with $1.7-billion? Clearly we should clean up abandoned and often dangerous “orphan wells” in Western Canada. The big question is: Why does the Canadian taxpayer have to foot the bill?

These wells were created and operated by private companies and earned them millions in profit. When the “well went dry,” those companies, for one reason or another, were able to walk away and leave derelict sites sitting there, leaking, rusting. Why was that allowed?

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I believe this is a made-in-Western-Canada problem. I don’t think even Jason Kenney can come up with a way to blame the East on this one. Governments in other jurisdictions (look as close as North Dakota) created security-deposit-type requirements or industry-backed funds to ensure orphan wells are avoided, and they seem to work effectively.

The use of public money to clean up a mess created by the private sector, especially at this time, reads as a sad comment on the industry and a disgrace.

David MacLellan Woodview, Ont.

Don’t brush us off

Re Thank You, And Stay Safe: Readers’ Tributes To Front-line Workers In The Coronavirus Fight (April 17): I am a staff dentist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. I and my colleagues are on the “front lines” seeing patients with dental emergencies during the COVID-19 crisis.

This is tricky business because it means a proximity of less than one foot between my patient’s face and my own for extended periods of time. It is a risk, but we follow all guidelines regarding screening and personal protective equipment. We do so knowing that we have a responsibility to provide care under many different circumstances.

I feel that many thank-you messages at this time leave out myself and hundreds of dentists who are seeing patients in pain during the pandemic.

Joel Rosenbloom DDS, Toronto

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The buzz

Re Flight Of The Beekeepers: Nicaraguan Workers Crucial To Canada’s Food Supply Chain Are On Their Way (Report on Business, April 13): COVID-19 has highlighted ways our agricultural systems are vulnerable, including the reliance on beekeeping for crop pollination. For decades, Canada has relied on the European honeybee, despite evidence our native bees are equally valuable. In cities, beekeepers have pushed to have hives on rooftops and in parks, claiming sustainability despite concerns from conservation biologists about negative impacts to wild bees. Reports of hive and migrant worker shortages threaten our food security, highlighting that abundant wild bee communities, which pollinate for free, are critical to buffer this shortfall.

During the Second World War, “victory gardens” sprung up to support soldiers overseas. Now, a new wave of food growing has begun without consideration of pollination requirements or recent population losses of native pollinators. The gardens we should plant in cities must support native biodiversity to increase pollination. In rural areas, the science is clear that more resilient systems require agri-environment schemes to support wildlife and reduce the need for managed bees.

We should consider altering our land-use practices to heal our ecosystems, as well as our bodies, with nourishing, local foods.

Sheila Colla PhD, assistant professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University; Toronto

Relative means

Re Top Pipeline CEOs Received Millions In Shares In 2019 (Report on Business, April 16): As all the CEOs hunker down in their mega-million mansions, tragically required to work from home, health care workers head off for 12-hour shifts. As they hold the hand of yet another dying COVID-19 victim and risk their lives for us, I hope they appreciate that the hardworking CEO, probably still in pyjamas and eating marmalade on toast with English breakfast tea, will not earn until lunchtime what they earn in only a year.

Mort White Trenton, Ont.

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Wise words

Re Jim Pattison Charts Path To Recovery For His Conglomerate (Report on Business, April 13) and The Aged: Lovely In Theory, Disposable In Fact (Opinion, April 18): Jim Pattison is described as a “B.C billionaire” and a “91-year-old business magnate.” Does one have to be rich and powerful to avoid being “elderly?"

Jacques Konig Toronto

What in the world ever made us think that warehousing our dear elderly relatives was an option? Only a generation or two ago, we women would never think of putting them in such places. One of the women in a family always was willing and able to look after them at home. Have we grown callous so quickly that the precious lives of those who nurtured and loved us are now deemed worthless and meaningless?

Our society no longer puts orphans and children with disabilities in such homes, but now it feels very comfortable doing so with the elderly. We should quickly develop a strategy where families looking after relatives could get financial assistance so they can remain at home.

We have thankfully discarded the old adage “children should be seen and not heard,” but it seems to have been replaced with “elders should not be seen or heard,” especially if they need able-bodied relatives, trained personal support workers or educated registered nurses to assist them. Shame on us all!

Sue Symons RN, Toronto

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Re How Some B.C. Care Homes Can Offer A Lesson In Curbing An Outbreak (April 17): No doubt immediate emergency measures are required to reduce infection rates in long-term care facilities. But, in the longer term, I suggest we ask if there are preventative measures we can take to reduce the requirement for long-term care in the first place. In Kingston, Ont., there is an 11-year-old program called Oasis that shows great promise in this regard.

It’s a co-operative not-for-profit effort overseen by a board of directors of community volunteers, in co-operation with an apartment building landlord and Providence Care Hospital. With overwhelming research evidence that isolation leads to poor mental and physical health in any population, but particularly in older adults, Oasis focuses on socialization, nutrition and physical exercise at a fraction of the cost of long-term care. There is mounting evidence that it may delay or eliminate the need for long-term care.

I believe Oasis has proven its worth during the pandemic, with the co-ordinator still in touch with every tenant and meals being delivered to each apartment.

Helen Cooper President, board of directors, Oasis Senior Supportive Services; distinguished fellow, School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University; former mayor of Kingston (1988-93)

Re COVID-19 And Long-term Care (Letters, April 15): A teenage neighbour is paid $40 to cut my lawn, about an hour’s work; a landscaper charges me $75; a babysitter is paid about $10 to $14 an hour; a personal support worker for a parent is paid about $18 to $21 an hour. Apparently my grass is worth more than my family.

Dale Mills Guelph, Ont.

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