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Conservative MP Derek Sloan attends a Conservative caucus retreat on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on January 24, 2020.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

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Conservative concern

Re Derek Sloan Won’t Be The Next Conservative Leader, But His Populist Rhetoric Is Still A Concern (April 25): I have for most of my life been a proud Conservative. I had the honour of serving former Nova Scotia premier and federal Progressive Conservative leader Robert Stanfield as his executive assistant for six years. Mr. Stanfield was a great leader and is well remembered for his integrity and decency.

I believe Derek Sloan’s views do not merit continued membership in the party. And Andrew Scheer’s response was less of a surprise to me than the failure of the two leading leadership candidates to flatly condemn Mr. Sloan’s comments on Theresa Tam. If they think silence will gain them a few votes, they will certainly lose mine!

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I regard China as a corrupt and unprincipled empire and find that the Trudeau policy toward the country has been weak and ineffective. But Dr. Tam has nothing to do with that. Whether she is the best or worst Chief Public Health Officer of Canada is appropriately debatable in the public sphere – the remainder of Mr. Sloan’s comments and equivocal explanations should be deemed unacceptable.

Graham Scott CM, QC; Toronto

Testing, testing

Re Antibody Testing For COVID-19 Isn’t The Quick Fix That It’s Been Made Out To Be (April 23): While I agree with contributor André Picard, we are also living through an unprecedented emergency. Normally we would proceed cautiously with rigorous validation of antibody tests using carefully crafted trials. Yet we still know next to nothing about the true community prevalence of COVID-19.

We have a wealth of Canadian biotech innovators in industry and academia. Massive investments in this sector now could fuel even greater international stature when the pandemic ends. Our government, public health, industry and research leaders should co-ordinate and make bold decisions to launch a variety of population-level immunity-testing efforts.

If citizens want out of this lockdown sooner, we should accept being the subjects of a living and uncertain experiment conducted on a grand scale. It would not be perfect. But we would learn. Let’s lead. Now is not the time to be timid.

Sean Blaine MD, CCFP, FCFP; Stratford, Ont.

Re Conquering COVID-19: A Cause For Optimism (April 20): While I share some of contributor Eric Hoskins’s optimism, I suggest we look at what must happen moving forward.

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Ontario has the lowest testing rate for COVID-19 in the country. In order to guide our leaders and public health officials, it would be crucial to test more aggressively to better identify and isolate positive cases. This seems especially true given that approximately 20 per cent of cases may be entirely asymptomatic. Furthermore, some recovered patients may carry negligible protective antibodies, leaving them vulnerable to reinfection.

A gradual, safe return to work and social life will likely only be possible when we are able to test widely and accurately for antibodies and the virus itself. While we may be over the peak of this pandemic, we should continue to practise our successful public health measures. We should not become complacent as we work to resume normalcy.

Gordon Arbess MD, CCFP, St. Michael’s Hospital and University of Toronto

On the home front

Re PM To Send Soldiers To Help At Long-term Care Homes, But Warns It’s Only A Temporary Fix (April 24): I represented Ontario’s private-sector nursing homes in the mid-1980s as a public-relations consultant. At that time, Alzheimer’s disease was starting to affect more of the aging population who would ultimately require institutional care. It was clear that more funding was required to provide better wages, benefits and training for caregivers.

It was predicted at least 35 years ago that caring for people in these homes was going to become a crisis sooner rather than later. Provincial governments have been aware of all of the unfortunate truths for a very long time but never addressed it.

It has taken a global pandemic to show us how at risk people are who live and work in these homes. Now maybe something will be done about it.

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Patricia Bowles West Vancouver

I was extremely sad that a letter writer – a registered nurse – decided to take the world to task over not caring for our “dear elderly relatives” at home. This is not an option for most families when their senior relatives have complex medical needs. My mother needs to be in long-term care and she is well cared for in that environment.

Do I love my still-feisty mom? Do I hold her dear to my heart? Do I miss singing songs with her? Do I miss seeing her, especially now that we are unable to visit her? Yes to all of those questions.

There are huge changes needed to our long-term care system and how we provide support to those wishing to care for loved ones at home. Once the COVID-19 pandemic quiets down, these are the conversations we should be having with our federal and provincial governments. I invite the letter writer to join me in these conversations.

Enna Pearlston Toronto

Aid for autism

Re Online Therapy Not Enough For Special-needs Children, Parents Say (April 20): My six-year-old grandson has a severe form of autism and developmental disability. Unfortunately, the situation for families of children with serious developmental disabilities was far from satisfactory before this crisis – now, with everyone in isolation, the situation has become critical.

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If we do not develop a solid evidence-based policy that can be enacted immediately, the damage done to these children and their families may be irreversible. I sincerely hope for my grandson’s sake that Canadians will rise to meet this urgent challenge.

James MacDougall CM, PhD, C.Psych., McGill University; Montreal

Shown them the money

Re Pay Ratio Disclosures Needed For Greater Transparency On CEO Compensation (Report on Business, April 20): Columnist Rita Trichur argues for better disclosure of CEO compensation as a multiple of their employees’ salaries. I would argue this ratio should be disclosed for all senior executives, not just CEOs. However, I do not believe this will resolve the problem of grotesquely high executive salaries.

As a consulting actuary and human-resources practitioner who retired very comfortably 16 years ago, I remember when disclosure of executive compensation in annual reports was mandated. That led to numbers shooting into the stratosphere as executives were able to go to their boards and leverage comparisons with what other companies were paying out. I directly witnessed that.

I see that upward spiral persists and, other than for founder-owners, results in the disgustingly high and hard-to-justify compensation of executives we see today. That likely won’t change with more disclosure. More direct regulation is needed.

Peter Hirst Oakville, Ont.

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