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Pedestrians walk in the Chinatown district of downtown Toronto, on Jan. 28, 2020.

CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

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Viral reaction

Re Fear Over Coronavirus Prompts School Board In Ontario To Warn Parents Against Racism (Jan. 28): In my opinion, current accusations of racism over the coronavirus are not warranted. I am Chinese myself and I have avoided crowded Chinese restaurants and supermarkets during busy hours.

I don’t blame parents who would request the self-quarantine of students who have recently travelled to China. It feels like a sensible step to prevent the spread of the disease, especially when you consider that little children don’t all know how to practise good hygiene.

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Now should not be the time for political correctness: Call on everyone who has returned from affected areas, Chinese or not, to self-quarantine for the sake of public health.

Olivia Fung Mississauga


Re Masks In High Demand As Fears Spread Across Toronto (Jan. 28): Face masks outside of hospitals can get contaminated with many uses and adjustments. Excessive clothing may spread germs when removed in homes. And mobile phones, when handled without gloves or washing hands after use, can also be a source of major contamination. The same can go for a computer keyboard and mouse.

I’ve got my container of sterile wipes at the ready.

Rosalind Ross Toronto

Count 'em

Re Panel Calls For Ad-free CBC, Canadian Content Rules For Streaming Services (Jan. 30): Surely 97 recommendations in the broadcasting and telecommunications report, without clear priorities, is just too many to act on. The number washes over me, much like the 231 recommendations of the report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the 94 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the 70 of the B.C. money-laundering report.

Useful strategies should lay out a handful of ambitious but reachable goals with measurable milestones. We have seen before that important reports are heralded at release but then, because of the overwhelming amount of reading, get shelved and collect dust.

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Nigel Smith Toronto

Size matters?

Re How The Ford Government Got Schooled (Editorial, Jan. 29): Show me an elite private school that advertises large class sizes and mandatory online classes. What? There are none? Then let’s stop the pretense that the Ford government’s approach isn’t really about cuts to education. Students at publicly funded schools in Ontario should receive the best education possible, not what Premier Doug Ford is offering.

Kate Lawson Kitchener, Ont.


If class sizes really matter, I recommend that teachers’ unions negotiate to reduce their pay by 2 per cent in exchange for reduced class sizes and the attendant drop in job responsibilities. A selfless reduction in pay to better student outcomes would be a first for teachers’ unions.

If the rising cost of living is truly a concern for teachers, they should encourage their union leaders to push government to reduce annual income taxes by 2 per cent. This could be paid for by freezing the overall number of Ontario Public Service positions and allowing for 2-per-cent attrition. It would be another first if union leaders were to be seen to help all Ontario taxpayers facing rising expenses.

Gene Balfour Fenelon Falls, Ont.

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Get real

Re How Vancouver Turned Condos Into Rentals (Editorial, Jan. 25): Vacancy penalties strike me as negative persuasion – a kind of obverse incentive to create rental units. Why not another approach? I suggest sharply declining capital gains exemptions for wealth-hoarding boomers like myself, unless we reinvest our gains into rental construction projects that include seniors’ units.

Also, why not pass laws to prohibit public agencies, such as school districts, from selling surplus properties for market housing or commercial purposes? It would be better to only permit such real estate to be offloaded for rental housing. Maybe then the teachers, secretaries and janitors who populate a district’s still-active schools might stand a wee chance to live where they work.

Wm Baird Blackstone Tsawwassen, B.C.


Re Why PEI Suddenly Has Canada’s Worst Rental Crisis (Report on Business, Jan. 25): I read with concern about the plight of renters in PEI and the dearth of housing there. Reporter Matt Lundy notes that provincial rent controls cap annual rent increases. I wonder if there could be a connection? Would that legislators appreciate the law of unintended consequences.

Capital is mobile. Imagine that investment is like regular folk freely moving to where the jobs are. The investment risk has apparently ceased to be met with the commensurate reward in building rental space in PEI. This doesn’t help the very real tough times for some people – it simply helps to explain it.

Dave McClurg Calgary

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Re Details Unclear On Small-business Tax Relief (Jan. 23): On British Columbia’s aim to ensure it is property owners who pay property taxes rather than small businesses, we believe Housing Minister Selina Robinson gets it wrong when she says “we want to make sure the right people are paying.” Rather, we believe the reason small-business taxes have risen so sharply is because of the province’s “highest and best use” tax policy.

As such, businesses often pay a tax rate more than four times the residential rate. In some cases, this rate applies to future potential condo towers that may never be home to a commercial business. The government’s goal of forcing commercial properties to redevelop may kill the very businesses it means to save.

B.C.'s business, arts and cultural groups, along with regional mayors, proposed a solution: split tax assessments, which give municipalities the power to provide tax relief. However, it was rejected by Ms. Robinson. As we see small businesses and arts groups continue to suffer, we call on the B.C. government to take action quickly.

Patricia Barnes Vancouver Business Improvement Area Partnership

Damian Stathonikos President, Building Owners and Managers Association of British Columbia; Vancouver

Afterlife

Re Women Face Higher Rates Of Pain, Depression After Strokes Than Men, Study Finds (Jan 28): My mother lived for 14 years with left flaccid paralysis following a stroke. She lived in a home custom-built to accommodate her wheelchair, and with family and home-care support. Even so, as she lamented one day, “I miss me around here.”

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It was a poignant reminder of the person inside, and how meaningful to her were the things she could no longer do. Over the years, I have conveyed my mother’s words to everyone I know who is living and working with people following a stroke.

Anne Martin-Matthews Vancouver

Golden goal

Re On Top Of The World (Sports, Jan. 30): What a fantastic photograph of Christine Sinclair celebrating her record 185th goal. Let’s get this on a Canadian banknote or stamp. Like, tomorrow.

Jeffrey Keay Toronto


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