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A health care worker pushes a patient across a footbridge into a hospital, amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, in Montreal on Dec. 18, 2021.Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

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Divided we fall

Re Provinces Introduce New Health Policies As Hospitals Brace For Omicron’s Spread (Dec. 28): It seems that every town, city, region and province comes up with its own public-health guidelines. Individual political leaders are changing their policies based on what has been happening in their particular jurisdiction over the preceding week or two. But we all know that what is happening in the next street, town, province or country will certainly spread. COVID-19 knows no boundaries. So why not come up with public-health guidelines that are national or even international? There will be far less confusion, people will be more compliant and hopefully it will deter the spread of the coronavirus.

Michael Gilman MD (retired); Toronto


The provinces and the federal government apparently have learned nothing in almost two years of this COVID-19 scourge. Always reactive and never pro-active, our governments make big announcements and promises, and then have short-term memory loss.

We are short of tests and vaccines, and there are changing and confusing rules for quarantine, poor adherence to rules when entering Canada, and new mandates enacted after everyone has already gotten together and spread the virus.

Sadly, this is not the “good government” enshrined in our Constitution in 1867.

Gary S. Raich Toronto

Sajjan’s record

Re Sajjan Brings Lived Perspective To New Cabinet Post (Dec. 28): Given Harjit Sajjan’s past performance as defence minister, I am shocked to see him currently occupying any role in cabinet.

Politicians and citizens across the country accused him of mismanagement and willful blindness, as issues of sexual misconduct continued without recourse on his watch, despite the virtue signalling and repetitive assurances of needed change.

Notwithstanding the recent apology to the victims by his replacement, Mr. Sajjan stated that he is “extremely proud” of his work.

How can someone so indifferent to the suffering of the victims, many of whom are female, be trusted to advocate for women in his new role, and ensure systems are in place to “protect the rights of women” when he has so clearly failed in the past?

One can only deduce that the Prime Minister is more interested in sound bites than accountability or meaningful results.

Douglas Campbell Sherwood Park, Alta.

Plastic houses

Re Company Hopes To Disrupt Drywall Market (Report on Business, Dec. 28): I could not believe my eyes when I read about the new PVC walls that a company is working to produce for the home-building market. PVC is what caught my eye. I looked it up. “PVC contains dangerous chemical additives including phthalates, lead, cadmium, and/or organotins, which can be toxic to your child’s health. These toxic additives can leach out or evaporate into the air over time, posing unnecessary dangers to children.”

I am stunned that when we are witnessing the poisoning of our “pale blue dot,” an initiative such as this could even be contemplated by sentient human beings. It is incomprehensible. Am I missing something?

Louise Robinson Victoria


So these entrepreneurs hate the nicks and nail pops of drywall, and would rather have us build with plastic panels? From my firefighter perspective, this is bad news.

Modern homes burn eight times faster than legacy homes, while also throwing off an incredible amount of heat and poisonous gases. Why? Because these days they are mostly built and furnished with materials made of petrochemicals. While Trusscore board has been fire-tested to “Class A” standards, it still produces 3.8 times the amount of smoke compared with oak. Smoke is just another name for unburned fuel and is very dangerous in a house-fire setting, and petrochemical smoke in particular is highly combustible and super toxic. Drywall, on the other hand, has a better flame rating and produces next to no smoke.

Hate drywall all you want, but plastics are the bigger enemy in ways that transcend aesthetics. A far better option would be a return to old-school lath and plaster. Cheaper and quicker is rarely the better solution.

Luc Bouchet Firefighter; Rocky View County, Alta.

Flood prevention

Re How B.C. Can Mitigate the Next Big Flood (Editorial, Dec. 27): This editorial is short-sighted. Long-term flood mitigation requires immediate and dramatic carbon emissions reductions to reduce the global heating that drives extreme weather events, including the atmospheric rivers that flooded British Columbia last month. The province is at a critical climate-policy crossroads: Should it push through new natural gas infrastructure or transition to the low-emission future without further development of gas resources? Emissions reductions should be included in any discussion of climate-disaster mitigation.

If your bathtub is overflowing, you don’t put sandbags at the washroom door, you turn off the tap.

Tim Takaro MD; Simon Fraser University

Religious symbols

Re Hold on, English Canada: Quebeckers haven’t finished debating Bill 21 (Opinion, Dec. 18): Konrad Yakabuski is the voice of reason when it comes to Quebec’s contentious Bill 21 that bans the wearing of religious symbols for most public servants. He understands that Bill 21 came into law in reaction to a once-oppressive Catholic authority (there’s a similar rule for the same reason in France). He also understands why public figures such as the mayor of Brampton, Ont., where almost 40 per cent of the population is of Hindu, Muslim or Sikh descent and religious symbols are common, say that Bill 21 is plain discriminatory, period. This is a classic example of the Two Solitudes: Quebeckers think the rest of Canada is bad-mouthing them, the rest of Canada thinks Quebeckers are being narrowly chauvinistic, if not racist. The answer lies in trying to understand and assess each point of view through informed debate.

Catherine Sinclair Burlington, Ont.

You are what you eat

Re Nutrition Takeaways From This Year (Dec. 27): Leslie Beck’s article last August on the Stanford School of Medicine’s research into fermented foods mentioned that two ounces of vegetable brine drink was one of the doses in this study.

I sought out further information on lacto-fermentation and since then I have regularly fermented vegetables to include the brine in my diet. My gut was in bad shape after months of pain, poor posture and medications prior to a replacement of my arthritic hip last March. I have found this to be a safe, cheap, easy and pleasant addition to the variety of fermented foods I consume daily.

Audrey Hall Saskatoon


My, oh my, so many diets, so many decisions: a diet rich in fermented foods; a diet full of flavonoids or superfoods; the DASH diet. The list goes on. But nowhere did I see my favourite diet: the Cookie Diet. In these troubled times, I find that’s what works for me.

Esther Schrieder Toronto


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