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A man wears a mask decorated with the Canadian flag ahead of a Canada Day drive-by parade on July 1, 2020 in Newcastle, Canada.

Cole Burston/Getty Images

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Invest in mental health

Re Toronto Council Rejects Police Budget Cut, Approves Body Cameras (June 30): In 2011 and 2013, the Ontario and Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police noted that police had become the default 24/7 mental-health service in the community because of a lack of investment in mental-health services. While police budgets have been steadily increasing, investments in community mental health have not. Toronto has actually seen a reduction in community-based crisis services in recent years. No wonder the Toronto Police Service receives more than 30,000 crisis calls each year. In 2012, the Mental Health Commission of Canada recommended increasing the mental-health share of health spending to 9 per cent from 7 per cent. This has not occurred. Until it does, police will remain the only 24/7 crisis-response game in town.

Steve Lurie CM, Executive director, Canadian Mental Health Association Toronto

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No masking the problem

Re Why Is Canada Delaying Mandatory Masks? (June 27): Robyn Urback asks a good question to which no one answer responds adequately. A lack of leadership is a good place to start. If our leaders really want the general public to wear masks some of the time, they are going to have to wear them all of the time when they are in public.

After leadership come persuasion and education. Teachers should give online courses on wearing masks because doing so gets the audience thinking that the practice is socially acceptable. Religious leaders should be asked to speak about the virtues of wearing masks. Sports stars and popular musicians should be asked to promote them to their fans. Wearing a mask should be made so convenient and inexpensive that people will have no excuse for not wearing one. Mask dispensers should be as ubiquitous as bottles of hand sanitizer at businesses.

The government need not always be the agent forcing citizens to do what is right. Corporations, schools, charities and places of worship can all do their part. But none of this will happen so long as our leaders remain personally uncommitted.

Patrick Cowan Toronto


Much more can be done to protect the vulnerable against COVID-19. Unfortunately, seniors and those with medical conditions have little choice when it comes to food shopping and other essential activities such as going to see a doctor. A surgical mask or other face coverings only protect others, not the wearer. Inside a store, those at high risk are dependent on every other person in their proximity to be wearing a face covering to be safe. Why haven’t our government and medical leaders stepped up to protect the vulnerable in our community?

It is time to enforce the wearing of masks by every person inside a public place that provides essential services, such as grocery stores. On the other hand, I see no problem with anybody going anywhere they want uncovered and physical distancing where essential services are not being provided.

Laurie Kochen Toronto

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The opinion piece makes a good case for requiring face masks in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, if the federal government was really serious about encouraging protective measures, it would consider making the acquisition of masks free for all Canadians, perhaps utilizing supermarkets and drug stores as distribution outlets. Not only would this make people more likely to adhere to the rules of wearing masks in public, but the total net cost to Canadians would likely decrease given the economy of scale by having just one middleman, the Canadian government, purchasing and dispensing the masks.

Ross Hollingshead Toronto

Cross-border plea

Re As A Dual Citizen, I Thought The U.S.-Canada Border Would Always Be Open To Me (June 27): As a fellow dual citizen living in the United States, I share many of the author’s worries and concerns about being able to visit my octogenarian mother and other relatives in British Columbia. The area I live in was very aggressive with its shutdown protocol, and has been very cautious and measured with its reopening program. Masks have been and are still required in indoor public spaces, and residents and visitors alike often wear them outside even while physical distancing is observed.

Canada should consider the “Hawaiian method.” That is, have U.S. citizens (at least those with Canadian relatives) provide proof of a negative result to a recent COVID-19 test to border security in order to avoid the 14-day quarantine currently imposed by the federal government. Spending two weeks isolated while healthy in an effort to spend some quality time with one’s elderly mother is completely unreasonable and unnecessary.

Thousands of people are travelling across the border every day because they are deemed essential for trade, health work, etc. If this is occurring, surely there are methods that can be employed to allow relatives to safely visit loved ones.

I know the (current) U.S. is a poster child of nationalism, harsh immigration policies and disenfranchisement toward other countries. But I would call on our kinder, gentler friends to the north to ignore the overall feeling of being in a nice apartment above a meth lab, to borrow a line from Robin Williams, and seek reasonable solutions to the catch-all policy currently in place.

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Jeff Meagher, Breckenridge, Colo.

Safe and good education

Re ‘Safe’ Is A Dangerous Guiding Principle For Education Plans After The Pandemic (June 27): By framing the question as how should Canada educate its children, the author would have us believe that the role of education is only to prepare the child for the world. More correctly, the children of Canadians also need protection from the world. In education, the responsibility for both roles is shared with parents.

Through their parents, children are not only given life but introduced into a world. But children must be protected against the world until they are fully developed, and then gradually they are exposed to the public sphere.

The pandemic has highlighted how the two roles coincide. When the world threatened, schools were closed and children were returned to the safety of their homes. Presenting a false dilemma of a safe return to schools or a good education is simply the wrong kind of thinking. We can, and must, insist on both.

Rhea Pretsell Belleville, Ont.

The Maple Leaf Forever?

Re Mistaken identi-tree (June 27): The sugar maple is rhapsodized as “Canadian” throughout, even though its range barely extends north of the 49th parallel or west of the Northwest Angle. How about a national tree that actually grows west to the Pacific and North to the tree line? I vote for trembling aspen.

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Doug Shearer Richmond B.C.


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