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A man looks out the window at the Camilla Care Community centre overlooking crosses marking the graves of people who died during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on May 26, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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By the numbers

Re Time To Reopen, Or Is It Too Early? (Editorial, Feb. 9): The table labelled “deaths, by month” on Statistics Canada’s website tells us all we should need to know about COVID-19 numbers. Every year from 2015 to 2019, deaths are lowest in June, start to rise in October, reach their peak in January, then fall each month until the following June.

COVID-19 numbers follow exactly the same pattern because it is a winter virus like other coronaviruses, the flu and other cold viruses that circulate every year. Public-health precautions appear not to have prevented numbers from following the usual pattern, and are unlikely to make a difference in their fall to summer lows.

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Paul Cary MD; Cambridge, Ont.

Funding breakdown

Re Developing Countries Won’t Forget Canada’s ‘Me-first’ Vaccine Approach (Feb. 9): At $440-million, Canada is the second-highest contributor to COVAX. Half of that amount is meant to secure doses for Canadians and half to help buy doses for 92 poorer countries. Wealthy states such as New Zealand, South Korea and Singapore are also receiving doses.

Over all, COVAX’s interim distribution plan calls for more than 330 million doses to be delivered to 145 countries in the first half of 2021. Doesn’t this represent global collective action, meeting the interests of all countries on an equitable basis, and not a “me-first” approach?

The United States, Britain and Germany have their own manufacturing facilities and no need for COVAX. Canada’s delivery of 1.9 million doses should be seen as warranted; if instead allocated equally to all 145 countries, it would mean about 13,000 doses for each one – hardly a windfall.

Canada’s COVID-19 contributions to COVAX and the World Health Organization in the hundreds of millions of dollars shows a high regard for the health of the neediest members of the global population. Developing countries should not forget this country’s significant action in this regard.

Bob Wornell Dartmouth, N.S.

Another case of…

Re Stratford Police Cleared By SIU In Violent Arrest Of Man With Autism (Feb. 8): The Ontario Special Investigations Unit cleared Stratford police in the arrest of Joshua Nixon, a young man with autism. It is difficult to believe that a young autistic man can be wrestled to the ground, punched in the head and arrested by the police – and nobody is held accountable.

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What kind of world do we live in where police can wield such power? This is just one, by my count, of many encounters with police where they are not held accountable.

The SIU should have complete separation from the police and government. Until we have true civilian oversight of police training and operations, I believe we will continue to see police abuse – abuse I see occurring on a regular basis across Canada.

David Bell Toronto

High time

Re Financial Health Of Ontario Universities Under Scrutiny (Feb. 9): The situation at Laurentian University has been called “unprecedented.” Maybe so, but I also found it completely predictable. Ontario universities have been beggared by successive governments for decades. Statistics Canada data show that Ontario’s per-student funding to universities compared with other provinces consistently ranks dead last.

Northern Ontario needs, and has a right to, vibrant, flourishing universities that can rely on secure and dependable support. Those who dole out the pittance of roughly 1 per cent of Ontario’s budget to postsecondary education should be reminded that a chunk of that budget includes contributions from taxpayers in the north, who depend on Laurentian to educate their youth.

If Laurentian is allowed to fail, who’s next? And what’s next? The end of publicly supported higher education? Or perhaps a Doug Ford precedent: private institutions of dubious quality.

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Helen Thibodeau Cobourg, Ont.

Columnist Konrad Yakabuski is quite right that Laurentian University’s insolvency is the result of a failing business model. But that model should be rejected, because the whole idea that any university should be administered as a business seems misguided and counterproductive to its real purposes.

Universities ought always to be primarily concerned with providing support for teaching and research in a diversity of programs across a wide spectrum of humanities, professional schools and social and applied sciences. Efficiency and excellence should also be thought of in qualitative terms.

Even with provincial grants, some institutions and programs essential to our social welfare will never be financially self-supporting, and they should not be abandoned. We should stop thinking of universities merely as a means to satisfy political ends or specific job markets, and start thinking of them as wise investments for the future good of society.

Robert O’Kell Dean Emeritus, Faculty of Arts, University of Manitoba; Winnipeg

David Trick, former assistant deputy minister for higher education in Ontario, lists four strategies to balance university budgets. But there is one overlooked strategy: reducing the size of administrations.

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Across the board, administrations continue to grow. At many schools, the cost of administration approaches the cost of teaching students. Added to high administrative salaries are perks such as sabbaticals at full pay, professional development funds and travel budgets.

Many university presidents, even at small regional institutions, are paid more than federal cabinet ministers. None of this seems to benefit students or curriculum. A review of these costs is long overdue.

Alexandra Phillips Vancouver

All things equal

Re Wage Equalization Tax Could Help Boost The U.S. Economy (Report on Business, Feb. 4): I agree with contributor Stephen Jarislowsky that the wholesale flight of manufacturing investment to developing countries set the path of economic demise for a great many communities in the United States and Canada. As significantly, it reversed the fortunes of an entire middle class of now obsolete workers, who shouldn’t be blamed for resenting the ostentatious wealth derived by the relatively few as a result.

My hometown of Brantford, Ont., remains a hollowed shell of the vibrant, thriving community it was before the closing of a massive Massey Ferguson plant in the 1980s, a fate sadly mirrored by virtually every similar-sized town in Southern Ontario. If nothing else, the Trump phenomenon should be credited for revealing the depths of political wealth awaiting anyone able to tap the nostalgia these communities still hold for the not-so-distant past.

A wage equalization tax, or more subtle measures to slow the further erosion of domestic manufacturing investment, are concepts worth further consideration. Availability of idle factory space certainly won’t be a barrier.

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Stephen Pauwels Toronto

Year of the ox

Re Neighbours Join In To Boost Toddler’s Lunar New Year (Jan. 30): At a time when racial discrimination in Canada and elsewhere is being openly discussed, this touching story represents hope and a reaffirmation of my Canada. Thanks to The Globe and Mail, and happy Lunar New Year.

Joe Wong Toronto

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