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One reader writes that Niall Ferguson 'makes more palatable a popular xenophobic trope' when writing about the actions made by China – Chinese President Xi Jinping seen here on March 29, 2020 – throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.Ju Peng/The Associated Press

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Financial advice

Re How To Make Canada a More Self-reliant Country After The Pandemic (Report on Business, April 6): A pep talk to Canadians during the COVID-19 crisis from the chief executive of Royal Bank of Canada rings hollow to me.

The bank reported a record profit of $12.9-billion in 2019. Yet, most mortgage deferrals at all the major banks, often grudgingly given, continue to charge interest, leaving mortgage holders deeper in debt at the end. And our Prime Minister and Finance Minister tout a deal with the banks to get credit-card interest halved as some great triumph of negotiation and example of pulling together.

Here’s an alternative: legislation, using the Emergencies Act if necessary, mandating that banks give true temporary relief for those in need. Yes, this may erode bank profit for 2020, but there’s also no doubt to me the industry will figure out a way to socialize some of its losses. And how about David McKay donate some of his $13.7-million in 2019 compensation?

David Mittelstadt Calgary

Income gaps

Re Ottawa Is Fixing Support ‘Gaps,’ PM Says (April 6): I don’t believe the government intended to put Canadians who managed to keep some work – but earning considerably less than $2,000 a month – in an untenable position. I know that policy is being made on the fly and programs are modified as more information comes to light. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program should, at minimum, create an option for workers to be able to top up reduced earnings to a $2,000 maximum. This change would help maintain some economic activity, but not at the expense of part-time workers who are being limited by the current eligibility.

Anne Lindsey Winnipeg

Re Students Left In Tight Spot Over Ineligibility For COVID-19 Benefits (Report on Business, April 6): One article discusses the “gaps” in emergency income support programs and another the “tight spot” that ineligible students find themselves. I believe there is an easy fix for both: a basic income that puts a floor under all Canadians, so that everyone has the means to access the basic necessities of life.

Elaine Power Kingston

In or out?

Re COVID-19 In Seniors’ Homes Is A Nightmare (April 3): Columnist André Picard is urging Canadians to bring home residents in long-term care during the COVID-19 crisis. We are extremely concerned about the impact of this article. Many people may not be aware that the vast majority of residents need high levels of care. It would be unrealistic to suggest that most families can safely replace this support at home without the expertise, supplies and practices and protocols provided by our professionals.

Long-term care homes and retirement residences are experienced in managing outbreaks and need the support of government for the prioritization of testing and supplies – support that the government is working hard to provide. The public should also fully participate in isolation protocols to reduce the spread of the virus to health-care workers, who are continuing to take care of our vulnerable and beloved family members.

Thousands of dedicated long-term care and retirement staff are working tirelessly and we cannot thank them enough for the compassion and professionalism they provide during these unprecedented times. We would also like to thank families for the many gestures of appreciation they show staff on a daily basis. We would like to see more coverage of these people of courage and honour.

Donna Duncan CEO, Ontario Long Term Care Association; Toronto

Cathy Hecimovich CEO, Ontario Retirement Communities Association; Oakville, Ont.

I’m 72 and living in Christie Gardens Apartments and Care in Toronto. I am of course concerned about my safety after two people tested positive here.

I have a lovely life-lease unit which I share with no one and am self-isolating. But I had a long talk with the nurse-manager who said I was welcome to leave, but there were no tests available (no ventilators or defibrillators either). It’s fine to say our kids should haul us out, but how can we risk exposing them? Few homes have separate bathrooms for guests, and I’m not going anywhere unless I’ve been declared free of the virus.

I’m not sure what to do. I guess I’m lucky to live alone and have meals delivered. But without testing, we’re between a rock and a hard place. I’m concerned that if people start hauling seniors out, entire families could be infected. Tests should be essential.

Ingrid Philipp Toronto

I recently moved into a lovely apartment in a downtown Toronto seniors’ residence. I now know that I am a sitting duck, and my pond is likely to be infected. I hope it’s not hunting season.

Katherin Jones Toronto


Re I Survived The Coronavirus (First Person, April 6): What a wonderful public service physician Anita Tannis performed by informing the public of how she managed and survived COVID-19. With those awful sweats, fever and coughing, most people would run, not walk, to a hospital. It would appear shortness of breath is the main alarmist that requires medical help.

Reading Dr. Tannis’s essay uplifted my spirits and gave me renewed hope, and I will keep it available for referral.

Marie Medoro Mississauga

Okay zoomer

Re Let’s Zoom Xi. He Has Questions To Answer (April 6): Contributor Niall Ferguson may have a point. I would underline “may.” However, finger-pointing during a global pandemic seems of no use at all.

By conflating China’s actions with the plot of a sci-fi novel, I believe Mr. Ferguson makes more palatable a popular xenophobic trope. The whole world should pull together on this one, regardless of the fact that some of the countries we are yoked to may be “bad guys.”

Barrie Abbott Port Coquitlam, B.C.

God save the Queen

Re Johnson Admitted To Hospital As Queen Urges Co-operation (April 6): We are lucky to hear from one of the signature members of the Greatest Generation. Unlike the reality stars of today, I can’t help but believe that we are more inspired by a leader who has had only one direction her entire life: selfless service.

Royalty for many might be an archaic concept, but the Queen has once again shown that her timeless dedication is the true currency of her value.

Jimmy Molloy Toronto

End times?

Re Law Firms Cutting Salaries Amid Fear Of Cash Crunch, Struggling Clients (Report on Business, April 6): Lawyers? Cutting salaries? Truly the end is nigh.

Geoff Lee Thunder Bay

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