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A senior receives the COVID-19 vaccine as Quebec begins vaccinations for seniors over 85 years old in a clinic in Laval, Que. on Feb. 25, 2021.


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Still waiting

Re Why Is Trudeau Cutting Off His Nose To Spite Big Pharma? (Feb. 25): While Big Pharma CEOs may not have had audiences with the Prime Minister, it is difficult for me to believe they didn’t have ample other access to promote their side of the story. In any event, given the government’s goal of managing drug prices down and the industry’s desire to increase revenue streams, it’s easy to understand why there would be a degree of dynamic tension between supplier and purchaser.

Industry sabre-rattling about dire consequences seems par for the course in such negotiations and much of it should be dismissed as noise.

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Frank Malone Aurora, Ont.

If Pfizer is indeed acting out of spite, perhaps Canadians should keep that in mind when purchasing drug products. Capitalism being what it is, Pfizer does have its competitors.

Anne Morris Mississauga

Re Vaccines Are On The Way. Are We Ready? (Editorial, Feb. 25): When the country votes, we get a card in the mail telling us to turn up at the local school, on a certain day, between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. By day’s end, every eligible person who wants to vote has voted.

Could we not do the same with the vaccine? Or is that too simple?

Elizabeth Thompson Oakville, Ont.

Ontario vaccine czar Rick Hillier reassures folks that the vaccination booking system will go well because “we’re going to put a large number of operators in there.” I can book a gym slot, interview, parking spot, cottage, dance class or just about anything else online without an “operator.” Vaccination eligibility criteria are simple and duration of appointments is uniform: an obvious case for using existing internet booking?

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Hopefully these operators have enough carbon-interleaved forms.

Mike Firth Toronto

Having lost an uncle and aunt in the United States within the same week, and now a friend in Toronto, I’d like to know how to prioritize the vaccination of a surviving parent of children under 18 (and the children, too). We cannot afford to have young people orphaned by this disease.

Ruth Nissan Toronto

Apparently, my wife and I are scheduled for vaccines in mid-April because of our age.

However, we are retired. I go food shopping every other week. We do not travel. We only FaceTime with family and friends. Yet we will probably get vaccines before our son, who is a high-school teacher in close contact with his students.

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Is there anyone in charge who knows what they are doing?

David Enns Cornwall, Ont.

Human element

Re Cost Of Business (Letters, Feb. 25): A letter-writer suggests that because the human condition is predisposed to gaming the system, businesses cannot afford paid sick days. But in my experience of managing people for decades, I have learned a few lessons: Most employees, if given the opportunity, want to do a good job, feel valued and be treated with respect. Importantly, they will live up – or down – to a manager’s expectations.

If one’s style is a Dickensian management model, where the belief is that the Cratchits of the world are up to no good and should be satisfied with their station in life, not only would this be a sad place to work, but also a poor business model as well.

As is the case with the human condition, some – very few – will likely cheat. However, policies can be developed to address those few instead of depriving all.

Karim Fazal Oakville, Ont.

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I don’t take days off unless I’m sick. The majority of people I know would say the same. But then, I am adequately compensated for the work I do, and I know that I am valued and respected – and safe – in my workplace.

Perhaps that’s the difference.

Kate Lynch Toronto

Justice reform

Re Bill C-22 Is Inadequate For The Task Of Addressing Injustice In Canada’s Justice System (Feb. 24): Having worked in Canada’s justice system for 30 years, I know very well that mandatory minimum penalties achieve nothing apart from institutionalizing offenders and pandering to public ignorance regarding crime and punishment.

There are two types of justice: restorative and retributive. As the name suggests, the first focuses on rehabilitation and reintegration. It acknowledges that the vast majority of offenders will be released from prison at some point, and must then be able to return to their communities.

Retributive justice is driven by a desire for revenge. A tiny fraction of inmates are never going to be fit to live in society. But beyond them, it’s the irrational fear of “others” which results in the overrepresentation of Black and Indigenous people in our prisons.

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Moving our justice system further toward the restorative model means overcoming irrationality. It would require political courage that seems critically in short supply.

Steve Soloman Toronto

There all along

Re Canada’s Nursing Shortage Is A Gaping Wound In Our Health Care System (Feb. 16): Canada’s nursing shortage reflects historical patterns, policies and priority-setting across government tiers that continue to discount the contributions of these health care workers.

Nurses are often not well-incentivized to remain in certain health care sectors. It is understandable they may not choose to stay in positions with unstable hours, understaffed units or mandatory overtime even when alternatives are available through private agencies.

Solutions to nursing shortages are not politically expedient. As they say, “Don’t walk 10 miles into a forest and expect to get out in five.” Addressing these issues would require long-term prioritization across governments, collaboration with nursing leaders and financial investment to ensure stable, safe working conditions for these essential workers.

Has the time finally come to properly value nurses in our health care system? If not now, when?

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Rachael Geiger Vancouver

Prayer hands

Re Churches Cannot Be Exempt From Earthly Matters, Such As Public Health (Feb. 24): Our congregation closed its doors a year ago and the ministry continued. In fact, it has grown.

Our online service reaches more than double our previous in-person numbers across the country. People can participate any day or time of the week. I have held weddings, funerals, baptisms and membership classes, all online. Our spiritual and social justice programs are bursting.

Do we miss in-person gatherings? You bet. Is online more challenging? Yes. Is it creative and loving? Yes. Are people safe? Yes!

The greatest commandment is to love God, self and neighbour as thy self. Closing our doors practises this ethic in the best way possible, until we can open safely for all.

John Pentland Reverend, Hillhurst United Church; Calgary

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