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The Canadian Armed Forces and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) hold a rehearsal of the concept drill for the coronavirus vaccine rollout at the PHAC headquarters in Ottawa on Dec. 11, 2020.POOL/Reuters

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Care home carelessness

Re There Is No Excuse For The Suffering And Death Happening Again In Ontario Long-Term Care (Opinion, Dec. 30): Congratulations to Robyn Urback and The Globe and Mail for calling the Ontario government to account for how it dropped the ball so badly that yet another Extendicare-managed facility has become a COVID-19 conflagration.

While paid sick days would help, I think what is really needed is to begin moving residents out. If the Doug Ford government recruited partners such as the City of Toronto and social services agencies in Scarborough and elsewhere, and provided funding for them to rent condos, apartments and community residences to which to redeploy staff, and use agency staff to provide support and services in the short term, staffing up over the longer term, they could get people out of those places.

The answer to a staffing crisis is not to send more professionals into danger, but to get vulnerable residents out of it.

Patricia Spindel co-founder, Seniors For Social Action Ontario; Ajax, Ont.

Trump fumbles

Re On Vaccines, Trump Did Everything Right (Opinion, Dec. 31): While cheerleading President Donald Trump’s impressive run toward the vaccine goal line, I hope Konrad Yakabuski has been left as perplexed as the rest of us as we all witness him dropping the ball just a few yards short. Specifically, while Mr. Trump told us that the vaccine would have found the arms of 20 million Americans by the end of December, they are currently sitting about 17 million short of this goal.

And why should that be? Might it have anything to do with Mr. Trump’s preoccupation with overturning the election? On vaccines, he is fumbling the ball, just like he has on everything else.

Charlie Sager Ottawa

Ill prepared

Re ‘We Are Not Prepared’ (Dec. 26): It is important for every organization to understand its principal role. The Public Health Agency of Canada was created after the SARS pandemic, which exposed Canada’s vulnerability to emerging infectious diseases. Its main jobs are to protect Canadians from such outbreaks and to collaborate with other countries and international organizations to prevent and control epidemics that threaten human life.

The Global Public Health Intelligence Network was a major forward-thinking initiative by Canada. As someone who was working in international health, I saw the valuable contributions it made to disease surveillance and outbreak control throughout the world. I was proud that Canada was recognized as an important technical resource by the World Health Organization and by many countries.

The gradual shift in PHAC’s focus by decision-makers has been disheartening to those who work in disease control.

Stephen Corber Delta, B.C.

Reading this article brings back a déjà vu moment when Connaught Laboratories, which at the time was a world-renowned institution, was sold by the University of Toronto to Canada Development Corporation in 1972. The newly Canadian-controlled company put in place a board that consisted of politically motivated appointees having no experience or expertise in the biosciences. After a period of confused mismanagement, it was sold to Sanofi, a leader in vaccine manufacturing. Not only have bureaucrats destroyed Canada’s GPHIN early-warning system that was praised as a foundation of global outbreak response by the WHO, heavy-handed, politically motivated interference destroyed Connaught, an institution that if still in existence today may have been able to, if not develop, at least produce COVID-19 vaccines on Canadian soil without much delay upon securing the licences to do so. Two Canadian jewels, built up over the years through the collaboration of talented scientists, only to be destroyed in short order by self-serving bureaucrats and politically motivated appointments.

Susan Howard Toronto

Sustainable salmon

Re Our Seafood Industry Can Return To Its Rightful Place As A Powerhouse (Opinion, Dec. 28): Many of us in B.C., including many First Nations people, are of the opinion that the decline of our wild stocks, especially Fraser sockeye, has been hastened by the establishment of salmon farms along the migration route. In general, I think Justin Trudeau’s Liberals lack fiscal prudence, but I applaud this government for starting the process of removing these farms from the most sensitive areas of the migration route. This is the strongest action any government has taken to correct this long-standing problem and, as witnessed by this op-ed, they are defying some very powerful corporate interests by doing so.

James Nightingale Delta, B.C.

Wisdom of elders

Re Quebec Woman Races To Preserve A Generation’s Memories (Dec. 30): Lovely to read about veteran journalist and broadcaster Janette Bertrand collecting a host of personal stories told by Quebec seniors and thus preserving experiences and viewpoints that are rapidly vanishing from our 21st-century world.

Canada’s Indigenous people relied on the knowledge and wisdom of elders to guide and shape important decisions, and perhaps it is not too late for those of us who are not Indigenous to recognize the importance of hearing from Canada’s seniors what life was like in decades past, thus learning something of “the world they came from and the world they built.”

Were there dark passages in Canada’s history? No question. But, as Ms. Bertrand says, “That’s how it was in our time,” and there were a good many “pockets of joy” as well.

Mark DeWolf Halifax

What’s in a name

Re Our Remarkable Aunt Irene Lived To 103. Still, She Died Too Soon (Dec. 26): I’ve just read and enjoyed the article about Irene Marks and her long and interesting life. But halfway through, I began to be distracted by the absence of a key detail: her name.

There was a time when women dropped their maiden names at marriage as a matter of course. Some still do. That does not make it okay to do the same when telling the story of a person’s life. For some 20 years, Irene was not a Marks. Who was she?

Susan Purcell Montreal


Re The Globe’s Annual Christmas Painting: Northern Lights By Tom Thomson (Dec. 24): Each year, I look forward to the front cover art on the Christmas Eve Globe and Mail. As an amateur astronomer, I was taken by the rendering of the aurora borealis by Canadian artist Tom Thomson in 1917. The accompanying paragraph by Kate Taylor was informative and inspirational. It missed only a single significant fact: Not only did Thomson portray the sharp rays of the Northern Lights, but also the familiar five-star “W” outline of the constellation Cassiopeia. Recognizing the star pattern so close to the horizon, I figured the painting must have been made in the springtime, when the “W” rides low at nightfall – and indeed it was. Thomson knew how to capture the night sky as well as the terrestrial world around him.

Kenneth Hewitt-White Chilliwack, B.C.

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