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A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Jan. 7, 2021.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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Rock solid

Re Newfoundland Offers A Cautionary Tale On New Variants (Feb. 17): In Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Australia and New Zealand, cycles of snap lockdowns and reopening are the new normal. We have read in these pages many voices advocating for a brutal months-long lockdown as the “last” lockdown, whereupon life would return closer to “normal.” This feels like a false promise.

With the amount of essential cross-border and interprovincial travel, many cases will constantly escape quarantine. Locking down for each case would mean perpetual lockdown. Vigorous containment, stringent restrictions, mass vaccination and support are essential; eradication is more like utopian wishful thinking.

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Christopher Price Toronto

I read with envy and respect for Newfoundland and its approach to notify people within hours that a lockdown would be in place immediately. No announcement on a Friday to stay tuned for four more days, nor wait with anticipation to hear news that “will knock you off your chair,” only to hear that “we will have an announcement on Friday” about lockdown measures.

Newfoundland’s priorities seem clear. It’s unfortunate that the same cannot be easily said for Ontario, which continues to be slow to act, with measures that are confusing to most Ontarians.

Debra Moy Mississauga

Selfless strategy

Re The ‘Me First’ Spirit Of Vaccine Nationalism Isn’t Just Selfish. It’s Self-harm (Opinion, Feb. 13): Our lives are on hold; the freedom to travel within our neighbourhoods, our country, our world has been taken from us. To protect Canadian lives and our economy, we need to do two things: vaccinate Canadians to open up the country and vaccinate the world to stop the virus from mutating in unvaccinated countries and returning to Canada. We cannot travel or open our borders to family, farm workers or tourists until the world is vaccinated.

I work for Food For The Poor in Canada, currently supporting food aid in response to increased poverty caused by the pandemic across the Caribbean and Latin America. In March, 2022, we plan to travel with 25 Canadians to Jamaica to build a school. Canadians might be vaccinated, but will Jamaicans be? Canadians must tell our government to spend more money on vaccinating poorer countries.

What are the government’s plans for the 100 million vaccines ordered beyond our citizens’ needs? How can we ensure these vaccines will be distributed quickly to protect other countries and therefore ourselves?

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As we look at the progress of vaccinations in rich countries, let us also demand that the government we elected support COVAX or other strong distribution platforms for other countries. For our long-term health and freedom, we must vaccinate the world.

Samantha Mahfood Executive Director, Food For The Poor Canada; Toronto


Re Liberals Backtrack On Gun Buyback Plan (Feb. 17): Why not focus on what we should all do? Guns are here to stay. I have accepted that, although the 1989 École Polytechnique shooting will be with me always. The proposed legislation seems balanced.

Guns in our society present a public-health problem. As a former public-health nurse, I was much involved with combatting our smoking problem. We have significantly reduced that behaviour; why not the use of guns?

I suggest we should start acknowledging the problem: that guns are the responsibility of us all. Educate our youth and increase the attitude that gun ownership comes with responsibility to protect others, that life is precious and that we each have the right to be safe.

Hopefully then we can demonstrate some maturity as a country.

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Margaret McGovern Toronto

It is painful for me to hear Public Safety Minister Bill Blair explain how the proposed voluntary buyback program for assault-style firearms will make us all safer.

He argues that owners won’t be able to do anything with these firearms, legally. I believe the hard truth is that as long as those guns exist, they can and will be used, illegally – just as how the threat of fines or jail has not stopped people with car keys from driving drunk.

Gary Kapelus Toronto

Funding thaw

Re Government Oversight (Letters, Feb. 17): The Ford government is making sounds like it wants to seize greater control of universities, when it already has plenty on its plate!

When governments freeze grants to universities at the same time as they freeze tuitions, as has occurred in Ontario, they can expect to see universities forced into dire fiscal constraints. Let’s open up the purse strings a little on grants and hope the imagination of our university leadership keeps most of our higher education institutions sailing smoothly through these rough seas.

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We might also ask how other provinces are treating their universities and colleges with respect to grants and tuition levels. Doug Ford should hold the line.

Ted Burnside Retired vice-president, Nova Scotia Agricultural College; Ottawa

Senate reform

Re The Senate Is Not The Place To Block C-7 (Feb. 17): The Senate’s proposal for amendments to Bill C-7 highlights the absurdity of a very small group of non-elected Canadians having influence on the law in this socially hypersensitive issue. The basic remedy? An elected Senate with restricted and defined delaying power, rather than blocking power.

In my experience, this is not rocket science, and a circumstance that, if it was not so serious, would be farcical.

Paul Cosgrove Former joint chair, Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on Senate Reform (1984); Brockville, Ont.

Family first

Re Federal Budget Proposals Focus On Health Care Spending (Report on Business, Feb. 17): National child care won’t magically transform many women’s sense of duty that they are responsible for all child-rearing decisions and sacrifices. Until both parents make equal contributions to stay home with ill children or during school closings, to attend medical appointments, to volunteer for class outings or help with homework, women will continue to pay the price for their heavy lifting of parenthood before their career development.

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Addressing gender wage disparity, coupled with more sick leave or family leave days, would help equalize sharing of parental obligations. It should be in everyone’s interest to participate in parenting. Corporations should hold in low esteem employees who never absent themselves from work to attend to family needs.

Let’s stop talking out of both sides of our mouths about how great work-life balance is, then reward only those who abandon balance with career advancement.

Pamela Pastachak Ridgeway, Ont.

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