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Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Nov. 12, 2020.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

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Vaccine record

Re Provinces Working With Outdated Vaccination Data Systems (Feb. 22): How incredibly disheartening it is to read about the abject failure of the provinces, territories and federal government in operationalizing a truly pan-Canadian solution to vaccination data systems.

Twelve years ago, the swine flu wake-up call was disregarded. Now the global pandemic, and the ensuing deaths and upheaval across Canada, seems to have been met with ennui by the Prime Minister and premiers.

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The Ontario Premier also proclaims that the province will have a properly functioning vaccination reservation system. I can’t wait for that sideshow to open.

Marty Cutler Toronto

Re With The Vaccine Rollout, Perfect Fairness Won’t Be Possible (Feb. 17): Agreed. However, Canada’s approach appears to have embraced the concept stated by Robert Watson-Watt, who developed early warning radar in Britain: “Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, the best never comes.”

Henry Van Drunen Stratford, Ont.

Re I Got The Covid-19 Vaccine, And I Feel Guilty (First Person, Feb. 22): I urge doctor Arjun V.K. Sharma not to feel at all guilty.

All Canadians want our front-line hospital staff to be protected from the ravages of the virus, and are exceedingly happy that he has had his jab. Instead, Dr. Sharma should be angry that “the grocery clerks, the factory labourers, the letter carriers, the people who drive our buses and taxis and trucks,” as well as millions of others at high risk, don’t have timely access to a vaccine.

While other countries have set up efficiently run vaccination clinics in stadiums, fairgrounds, convention centres and even grocery stores and pharmacies, exhausted Canadians are left waiting and hoping that deliveries of vaccines will resume.

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Lesley Barsky Toronto

More or less?

Re Ottawa Needs An Aggressive Immigration Plan (Feb. 19): I believe we need an increase in immigration rates to prevent negative population growth. There may be resistance to this, but it would be necessary for the continued prosperity of our country.

Immigrants are instant consumers and can make an immediate contribution to the economy. In addition, the selection process should not be limited to skilled trades and professionals. Don’t forget that we suddenly realized that lower-skilled workers were really essential workers.

Immigration should be a classic win-win situation: a win for immigrants and a win for Canada.

Kaz Shikaze Mississauga

Columnist John Ibbitson argues that we need more immigrants to fill labour shortages. I think labour shortages are exactly what we want, in order to push working people into the middle class. Faced with shortages, employers would have to respond by training the unskilled, raising wages and improving working conditions.

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When populations were exploding in now-rich countries in the 19th century, most people were desperately poor. When fertility fell in the 20th century, a comfortable, if not prosperous, middle class emerged. It wasn’t a coincidence. We still have a huge problem of poverty, though, and one of the ways to reduce it is to make labour scarce.

There are many reasons to support immigration into Canada, among them the contributions that immigrants make to cultural diversity, the importance of reunifying families and the acute humanitarian needs of refugees.

But alleviating the scarcity of labour should not be one of them.

John Isbister Toronto

All for Alberta

Re Alberta Can No Longer Afford To Have No Sales Tax, And Now Is The Time To Make A Plan (Feb. 22): For many years I have advocated for an Alberta sales tax, both academically and publicly as a Lougheed-era cabinet minister.

An Alberta sales tax should be harmonized. I disagree that it should be the lowest in Canada at 5 per cent. Why annoy other Canadians? I have often travelled elsewhere in Canada, and Alberta is not very popular across the land. Instead, I strongly implore that the tax be tied for the lowest in the country at 6 per cent, alongside good neighbour Saskatchewan.

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Each 1 per cent in sales tax would yield about $1-billion in revenue, including a modest portion from visitors. I believe Albertans would support this plan as explained.

Allan Warrack Professor of business emeritus, University of Alberta; Edmonton

Electric conundrums

Re Is The Sun Setting On Canadian Oil? (Editorial, Feb. 22): I look forward to explanations of: where electrical generation will come from to replace the energy content of oil (hint: rhymes with nuclear); how our transmission grid could accommodate a load several times present levels; how to handle the environmental degradation that would come from mining enough lithium to power not only passenger cars, but also trucks, locomotives, farm machinery, ocean tankers and airplanes.

I’ll hold my shares of Big Oil for now, thanks very much.

Hubert Hogle Napanee, Ont.

Better education

Re Students Lash Out At Tuition Hikes, Remote Learning (Feb. 20): It is understandable that students are angry to the point of protesting, as universities provide isolated online learning with higher tuition and few pathways for employment.

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Instead, universities could provide personalized education with lower tuition fees and transition-to-work opportunities. Leadership at the highest levels could make this happen.

Peter Visser London, Ont.

Revenue sharing

Re Canada Condemns Facebook For Blocking News In Australia (Feb. 19): I find it incredible that Google and Facebook, supposedly full of bright people, cannot work out a win-win solution to support news media and still be in business themselves.

What about sharing associated ad revenue with the company involved? A few tags, a database and Bob’s your uncle. No laws needed.

Pierre Mihok Markham, Ont.

Divine advice

Re The Curse Of Clericalism: The Catholic Church Must Act To Address The Sins Of The Past (Feb. 22): Here’s the thing for me about abuse of power in the church: Until women are allowed to be equal participants in the organization, it ain’t gonna happen.

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The church preaches that all are equal in God’s eyes. But it’s only men who make the rules. As a friend of mine asked many years ago, why would anyone want to be part of any organization where they are not equal?

Delia Carley Ottawa

Science and literature

Re What Science Says About Lockdown Fatigue (Feb. 16): In the words of Oscar Wilde: “To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual.” If only we can find the courage to do nothing and stay home, a little longer.

Vanshika Bansal Ottawa

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