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Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott leave the premiers office in Toronto on Dec. 21, 2020.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Lockdown or not?

Re Ontario Has To Make This Lockdown Work (Dec. 22): If one has a guaranteed pension, can work from home or doesn’t have school-aged children, lockdowns are little more than an inconvenience. If one doesn’t have a reliable income, is an essential worker needing child care or, heaven forbid, has anything to do with a small business, lockdowns are devastating.

We are clearly not all in this together.

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David Barker Whitby, Ont.

Moving from the articles in the front section – dealing with, amongst other things, the pandemic squeeze being put on small retailers compared to big-box stores (Ford’s Actions Belie His Message Of Urgency and Ontario Under Fire For Delaying Provincewide Lockdown – Dec. 22) – to the business section, a particular quote caught my eye (Eye On Equities – Dec. 22): “Walmart Inc. is ‘one of the best positioned’ stocks in coverage universe ‘to handle the myriad of possible outcomes in 2021.’ ” No kidding.

Marianne Orr Brampton, Ont.

Re Kenney Defends Decisions On COVID-19 (Dec. 21): “He also stresses that Alberta’s numbers, particularly for deaths, are considerably better than Ontario and Quebec.” COVID-19 is not a game, it is life and death – there is no award for having fewer deaths, is there?

Brian Foster Calgary


Re On MAID, Part 4 (Letters, Dec. 21): Several times in recent days, I have seen comparisons of medical assistance in dying and suicide in The Globe, with the implication that either MAID is just as bad as suicide, or MAID is okay and not bad like suicide. My concern is that this comparison further stigmatizes mental illness.

Those who contemplate suicide are usually experiencing unbearable suffering, just like those looking for MAID, and often cannot find help to deal with it. Fostering guilt over “bad” thoughts will certainly not help, and can do more harm by making these people feel even worse about themselves.

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I support MAID, but do not support the comparison to mental illness and suicide.

Frank van Nie Toronto

My late hubby, Harry Reynolds, was diagnosed in July, 2013, with Stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer.

As his disease and pain level progressed, he repeatedly asked for a “happy pill,” which sadly he was unable to be given. He also contemplated stepping up to be the new advocate and face of Dying with Dignity; however, he opted not to, as he was a very private person. Long-time friends and co-workers had no idea about his illness.

In February, 2015, we lost our daughter to suicide. If legislation for medical assistance in dying had been in place, my husband wouldn’t have attempted to take his life as well in July, 2015. The police intercepted him before he could take action, and he then spent the night in the lockdown unit at our local hospital. The next morning, I said to the doctor in charge, “He isn’t mentally ill, he is terminally ill, and just wants this to be over.” He replied in the affirmative and promptly discharged him.

He then died at home three weeks later on his birthday, a day after we had signed the papers for hospice care. It was very hard to watch my vibrant, athletic husband turn into a shell of himself.

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Connie Reynolds Kelowna, B.C.

Corporate cash

Re Bulging Amounts Of ‘Dead Cash’ In Corporate Piggybanks Give Firms Strongest Position In Years To Tell Ottawa What They Want (Report on Business, Dec. 17): Columnist David Parkinson lucidly details the ever-increasing “corporate cash pile” that has been accumulating since the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009. He suggests those same corporations, even in light of continuing low-interest rates, will need special incentives to unlock that excess cash and invest in growing their businesses.

Instead of the usual tax breaks, perhaps it’s time for a different approach that will catch their attention: Over three years, increase the corporate tax rate from 15 per cent to 20 per cent, but tie each corporation’s ability to maintain a 15-per-cent rate to clearly defined ratios of investment dollars and additions of new full-time jobs.

Edward Carson Toronto

Academic cheating

Re Software To Prevent Exam Cheating Poses Problems For Universities (Dec. 17): We do not use this software in my college legal studies department.

For subjects that require analytical thinking and creative writing, we strive to structure exam questions so that there is not one clear answer, and different writing styles can be appropriate for the same question. That ferrets out cheaters, as no two answers should look the same.

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For more scientific subjects, surely there is a creative way to address the cheating problem without software. Why not give each student a unique problem to solve, varying the numbers and requiring them to explain their analysis? Mix a bit of science and the arts.

Gilda Berger Toronto

Proctoring software is a bad solution, but the problem of dishonesty is even worse.

As a university instructor, I decided not to use this software, instead reorganizing my course along the lines suggested by experts: adding projects, making exams take-home and open book, and so on. I was rewarded with a surprising and discouraging number of cheating cases.

The perceived need for invasive software is a symptom; the root problem is rather a culture of cheating among students, and as educators we should partner with students to change that culture.

Andrew Eckford Associate professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, York University; Toronto

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Vaccine rollout

Re Keeping Vaccination Lineups Civil Could Become Tricky (Opinion, Dec. 19): I’m a 65-year-old Torontonian spending time with my 94-year-old mom in Israel. I’m shocked at how relatively efficiently vaccine rollout is going here.

Every Israeli over 60 has received an e-mail or text message advising them to book a vaccine appointment. My mom, friends and family over 60 are all booked for the next week. The government plans for 60,000 people to be vaccinated each day, and two million to be vaccinated by the end of January.

Why is the rollout at home in such disarray?

Trevor Stein Ra’anana, Israel

Re Proof Positive (Letters, Dec. 21): A reader suggests that Canada should have a “vaccination card, such as a credit card with a strip and a chip.” Sounds like a great idea, but perhaps a little pie in the sky here in Alberta, where health cards haven’t even progressed past a slip of paper with perforated edges.

Nancy McFadden Calgary

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