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The U.S. Capitol Building on the fifth day of the impeachment trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on Feb. 13, 2021.


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Step by step – by step

Re Nursing Jobs In Demand As Pandemic Hits Hard At Health Care (Feb. 8): My partner, who holds a bachelor of science, dreams of retraining as a nurse, but the educational and regulatory barriers are daunting.

In addition to high tuition costs, unpaid work placements and years-long waitlists, many programs require applicants to complete various competency assessments, or even obtain postsecondary credits at their own expense, with no guarantee of admission.

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No sooner is our aspiring nurse graduated that they must also sit certification exams, again at their own expense – presumably because the degree in which they invested countless hours, and paid tens of thousands of dollars to obtain, is not sufficient proof of the required skills and knowledge?

We can keep sinking money into health departments at all levels of government, but unless we take a farsighted approach to growing our pool of health care professionals, our health care system and crisis preparedness will likely continue to suffer.

Matt Reekie Ottawa

Judgment day

Re Trump’s Acquittal Is The Latest Chapter In A Story With No Discernible End (Feb. 15): This trial was not for the Republican senators who were never going to convict Donald Trump, regardless of the evidence. I believe the audience that mattered was the American public, the moderate Republicans who are leaving the party in droves and the business organizations that now have even more reasons to distance themselves from the Trump brand.

This trial hurt Mr. Trump in the court of public opinion. That’s where he will be convicted.

Elizabeth Causton Victoria

Good starts

Re The Case Against A Guaranteed Basic Income (Feb. 10): The B.C. report on basic income concludes that “the needs of people in this society are too diverse to be effectively answered simply with a cheque from the government.” Of course! While basic income would lift people out of poverty – enabling them to purchase food, shelter and clothing – other supports would still be needed. We all want and need governments to provide better public transit, education, policing, labour and safety regulations and universal health care.

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I don’t think it’s fair to pit basic income against government services. An honest appraisal of how much wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few shows that a little sharing would suffice to fund both.

Caterina Lindman Waterloo, Ont.

Re B.C. Seeks To Decriminalize Drug Possession (Feb. 11): The movement to decriminalize drug possession is welcome and will likely improve the lives of drug users. However, I do not believe it will solve the current overdose crisis.

Overdose deaths are a result of an illegal drug supply that is dangerously (and often fatally) contaminated. Users will still have to purchase from these sources. Many users are also not ready, or interested, in treatment. And once engaged, it is still a long process with many relapses and failures.

By decriminalizing drugs, we have one foot in the boat and the other on the dock of an inherently unstable situation. I believe the only effective solution is to provide users with a safe, reliable and affordable drug supply. This would require legalizing and strictly regulating currently illegal drugs.

The drug war failed. We should move on, and treat drug users humanely and with respect.

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Dennis Long MSW; professor, addictions and mental health, Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning; Toronto

All things equal

Re Liberals Have Dumped Chrétien’s Fruitful Policies (Feb. 11): Although I admire Jean Chrétien’s successful fight from 1997 to 2000 against accumulated debt, we should not forget that times were different then.

For comparison, I checked Statistics Canada’s numbers for Stephen Harper from 2012 to 2015: The average per capita growth for real gross domestic product was 0.7 per cent, compared with 0.8 per cent for Justin Trudeau from 2016 to 2019. For Mr. Harper, the average growth for total business investment was -0.3 per cent, compared with -0.2 per cent for Mr. Trudeau. The numbers are hardly different.

Should we therefore say that Mr. Harper’s economic policy was not successful? In my opinion, he was quite successful in fighting the low-growth environment after the Great Recession of 2008, which still had consequences as late as 2019. Mr. Trudeau’s economic policy, like Mr. Harper’s, should be judged in the light of the circumstances that prevailed during the years post-financial crisis.

Turgut Hassan Southampton, Ont.

Not now

Re Don’t Cancel March Break. Let’s Make It A ‘Catch-up’ Week, Instead (Feb. 11): As a former elementary school principal and grandmother of six (ages 5 to 9), I’m in favour of cancelling March Break. The idea touted by some, that children will catch up after missing months of schooling to date, seems ludicrous. Online schooling is not a success for all students, with many receiving next to no learning early last spring.

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We should make decisions in the best interests of students who have suffered enough. This is a year like no other and we should think outside the box.

Education is a great field with many professional advantages. Giving up March Break should not feel like a sacrifice – last year’s was unexpectedly extended by a week or two.

Isabella Beattie Chatham, Ont.

I have always viewed March Break as an ill-timed holiday.

For those who can afford to vacation in sunny resorts or ski destinations, it’s a grossly overpriced week away. Otherwise, parents opt for crowded library and museum programs to entertain schoolchildren who don’t want to go outside and play in the slush. People without children avoid booking anything during March Break.

I’ve always thought it would be better to have a spring break during Easter, as is the case in Europe, when the weather is better and there is reason to celebrate. It would allow for religious observation, as well as welcoming spring with bicycle rides, hikes and outdoor games.

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Carol Gottlob Burlington Ont.

Lost to time

Re St Lawrence Market, 1953 (Moment in Time, Feb. 8): Sharp-eyed viewers will notice in this photo’s background another symbol of a moment in time that no longer exists: a sign for a Supertest gas station.

These stations originated in London, Ont., but the company ceased to operate a number of years ago. The stations were identified by their buildings with a mock-Tudor design. Many are still standing and it is a fun challenge to identify them in various towns, although many have been repurposed into various businesses such as variety stores.

I have sighted old station buildings in Stratford, Blenheim, as well as London.

David Lindsay London, Ont.

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