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Health-care workers talk to people as they wait to be tested for COVID-19 at a testing clinic in Montreal, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

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Man on the moon

Re Canada To Send First Astronaut Around Moon As Early As 2023 (Dec. 17): As a proud Canadian, I want to make sure I heard this right: Canada is sending an explorer to the moon, while we cannot yet supply clean water to all our Indigenous people?

John Stoffman London, Ont.

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So the Trudeau government intends to send a Canadian to the moon. That should be much appreciated by the homeless, patients on waiting lists for operations, people who use food banks, etc.

Douglas Millar Liverpool, N.S.

How unfortunate that the same level of effort seemingly has not been exerted to free Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

James McCarney Oakville, Ont.

Endorse this

Re What We Can Learn From The Victory Over Polio (Dec. 12): Perhaps we should ask if the creators of COVID-19 vaccines are willing to inoculate themselves and their children first, as Jonas Salk did with his polio vaccine. That would surely bolster public trust.

But that’s just the trouble: COVID-19 vaccines aren’t brilliantly developed by one person who would become a national treasure – they have been hatched by scientists at companies such as Pfizer, a group of unknown and uncelebrated people.

I believe this anonymity, plus the lack of prominent figures in the medical community stepping forward to enforce COVID-19 vaccines, is a real hurdle for Canadians to buy into rushed vaccinations.

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Natalya Sebastian Toronto

Homelessness in Canada

Re Close To Home (Opinion, Dec. 12): Columnist Gary Mason laments the money spent on Band-Aids for homelessness. We should go beyond Band-Aids to solve this problem, such as building houses instead, including the 700 a year needed in Winnipeg.

Perhaps the socioeconomic forces that plague most provinces and territories, such as mental health and drug addiction, could be reduced by one change to our economic system: a guaranteed basic income. It could be funded by an increased tax rate for those earning $100,000 or more and a wealth tax on offshore bank accounts. A basic income would alleviate many of the existing health and police interventions needed to take care of the most vulnerable.

COVID-19 will pass, but persistent homelessness will not go away without major changes that a virus cannot spur on its own. Let us look to the sources of problems, not just those thrust upon us by shorter-term events.

Barry Hammond Winnipeg

Conditions in Canada’s tent cities can be as bad as and often worse than refugee camps around the world. If we are willing to shrug off the humanitarian cost, what of the financial cost? According to columnist Gary Mason, homelessness costs Canada $7-billion a year.

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Instead of wringing our hands for decades trying to find a solution, wasting billions every year, we should look to a model that works: Finland’s “Housing First,” with its support programs for addiction, mental health issues, etc.

Until then, Canadians should hang our heads in shame.

Jo Balet Mississauga

The 2014 study At Home/Chez Soi by the Mental Health Commission of Canada demonstrated the positive impact of housing and mental and other health supports in improving the lives of homeless Canadians. People were successfully housed long-term, and there were significant cost savings in doing so. These measures included “Housing First,” a Finnish model well established, though underfunded, in Canada.

The solutions are known. We should take homelessness more seriously and implement them.

Mark Etkin MD, FRCPC; Winnipeg

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Trees of life

Re Man On A Mission: Michael Sabia Looks To Reverse The Country’s Economic Slide (Report on Business, Dec. 12): Our newly appointed deputy minister of finance asks, “Why can’t Canada become the global leader in carbon capture technology?” Canada already possesses the second-largest number of the world’s most cost-efficient carbon capture and storage machines: trees.

But, like spendthrifts burning through a windfall inheritance, we continue to clear-cut British Columbia’s irreplaceable old-growth forests. In Ontario, the new budget bill exempts industrial logging from the province’s Endangered Species Act.

Technology will never adequately replace the climate regulation that trees provide free of charge, let alone their vital contributions to air and water quality and ecosystem health. We will likely pay a steep price if we don’t protect Canada’s forests, our national treasure.

Norm Beach Toronto

Give and take

Re A Gift From Both The Heart And The Head (Opinion, Dec. 12): The Giving Multiplier is a brilliant concept, combining donations to favourite “heart” charities with apolitical, scientifically analyzed “head” initiatives that identify programs with the best outcomes. The climate change debate could benefit from the same concept as a charity.

There could be a “heart” team led by Greta Thunberg and Justin Trudeau, directing feel-good spending regardless of efficacy. There could also be a “head” team led by people such as Bjorn Lomborg and Ross McKitrick who analyze data, question extreme predictions and recommend where funds should be invested for the most effective climate outcomes.

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I would be delighted to contribute to such a charity.

Daniel McAlister Toronto

Re Tapped Out (Opinion, Dec. 12): While I donate each year to several charities – and feel badly if cutbacks in donations result in less care for the needy, reduced medical research and fewer services – I am less inclined to dig deeper when I see that many of their executives earn hefty six-figure salaries.

Board directors should focus on the delivery of charitable services instead of paying top dollar for executive talent.

John Campbell Toronto

Re The Caring Crunch (Dec. 12): The Globe reports that donations to charitable institutions are down by a huge amount. What do we expect? Income disparity is up by a huge amount. The number of very needy has grown by a huge amount.

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It is the poor and lower-middle class who donate a significant amount of their incomes to charities. The rich, and rich corporations, make a show of donations, but the amounts are nowhere near proportional to profit.

The result: longer lineups for food bags and handouts. Something is rotten.

Jack Kornblatt Montreal

Check it out

Re Very Canadian Controversy: The Queen’s Gambit Or The Crown For Top Status (Dec. 14): Since they both involved queens and fantasy, my vote goes to The Queen’s Gambit. It was richly original, entertaining and, unlike The Crown, introduced us to a world unknown to most viewers. Hard choice though!

Esther Schrieder Toronto

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