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A Canada Border Services Agency officer is silhouetted at the Douglas-Peace Arch border crossing, in Surrey, B.C., on March 16, 2020.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

COVID-19 and personal finance

Re Banks, Telecoms Offer Help For Customers Facing Financial Hardship (Report on Business, March 17): It’s great that banks, telecoms and even utilities are offering customers some slack during this COVID-19 crisis. One glaring exception is the credit-card companies!

The prime rate has gone down by one full percentage point in the last two weeks, yet credit-card interest rates remain sky high. Most people who live from paycheque to paycheque have credit-card debts, too. Now with a drop in income, even if they qualify for employment insurance, they will find it difficult to meet their monthly payments.

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The Finance Minister should discuss relief measures with these companies to help out these vulnerable people. Lowering the prime rate has zero benefit for them.

Olivia Fung Mississauga

COVID-19 and the border

Re Canada To Close Borders Except To U.S. (March 17): I am a U.S. citizen and Canadian permanent resident with a dual-citizen child. She and I returned to Canada from the United States on March 11 and are in self-isolation. However, my parents and many family and friends are still in the U.S. and I am deeply concerned about them.

I understand well the deep ties between our countries, yet the decision to exempt U.S. citizens from the border closing makes no good sense to me. There are likely economic as well as logistical reasons for it, complicated by the intransigence of the Trump administration on the virus.

As soon as these issues can be acceptably addressed, the exemption ought to be removed. The situation in the U.S. is likely to get worse before it gets better. Public health in Canada should not be left more vulnerable because of this.

In the meantime, I pray for the health of my parents and continued sound decision-making of Canadian officials.

Sarah Owocki Richmond Hill, Ont.

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COVID-19 and cancellations

Re COVID-19 And Travel (Letters, March 17): A letter writer agonizes over a cancelled trip to Las Vegas and the economic consequences of his decision. However, wouldn’t any effects be mainly inflicted on U.S. workers rather than Canadians? To assuage his guilty conscience, might I suggest that he use the cash saved to ameliorate the problem closer to home? How about donating to a food bank or homeless shelter?

Brian Swinney Burlington, Ont.

COVID-19 and the world

Re In This Epidemic, One Of The Big Tests Is Whether Or Not To Get Yourself Tested (March 17): Columnist André Picard says, “Let’s be clear: Not everyone can, will or should be tested.” However, South Korea has been one of the most successful countries in containing the spread of COVID-19 whilst its people have continued their lives without enforced quarantining or social distancing.

South Korea has achieved this result by comprehensive national testing. This seems extremely wise when trying to contain a virus that can be transmitted by infected people who are showing no observable symptoms. Canada was not, and still is not, able to carry out comparable comprehensive testing because, I believe, it lacks the resources and preparedness to do it.

How come? Because I have not seen government sufficiently appreciate the importance of public health nor adequately invest in it; it likely does more to keep the public healthy than any other branch of medicine. The response to COVID-19 should bring home the importance of having public health generously resourced with money, equipment and personnel.

Mervyn Russell Oakville, Ont.

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Re Act Now To Stop The Virus, Or Regret It Later (Editorial, March 16): As Canada devotes itself to containing COVID-19, Ottawa could consider learning lessons and experiences from Taiwan. Despite close proximity to China, Taiwan has so far succeeded in keeping its caseload volume remarkably low. Here’s how we did it.

First, we ensured that the government’s approach was well-organized and co-ordinated, with individuals who helped manage the 2003 SARS crisis at the centre of our government’s decision-making apparatus. We created a quick and nimble whole-of-government approach through the Central Epidemic Command Center to battle the virus.

Next, our government established a comprehensive 124 key-measure plan to combat COVID-19. The production and distribution of crucial products such as face masks was centralized, allowing a stable and effective flow of goods for all.

And, by disseminating frequent, timely and accurate messages, the public trusted what the government had to say. Transparency is the key.

These steps helped Taiwan succeed; health authorities in Canada should work with their counterparts in Taiwan immediately.

Winston Wen-yi Chen Representative, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada; Ottawa

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COVID-19 and the environment

Re Air Canada Halves Capacity In Face Of Travel Limits (Report on Business, March 17): Planes grounded, ships not sailing and a large decrease in carbon output; it would appear that what is bad for humankind is good for the climate.

B.D. Penny Kimberley, Ont.

COVID-19 and compassion

Re Canada, We Will Survive This Crisis Together (March 16): I listened to the Prime Minister’s update on COVID-19 and the closing of the border to most foreign nationals, read The Globe’s coverage of the news conference and also read columnist André Picard’s advice on being caring and helpful. How sad, then, that it seems no one asked Justin Trudeau about Sophie.

Colleen Maloney Coquitlam, B.C.

COVID-19 and culture

Re It’s Time To Broaden Our Range Of Distractions (Sports, March 14) No. It should not. This time, when we’re slowing down amid the threat of the coronavirus, should be one where we reflect.

With that would come gratitude for the things we otherwise take for granted. We already have too many distractions in the digital age. And the silver lining of not having enough sports to watch is that there’s the potential to become more appreciative people. Such excitement is a distraction from that humble, but important, possibility.

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Paul Salvatori Toronto


As my teens immerse themselves in the world of e-sports, I often ask myself if gaming is the evolution or devolution of sports. They are now happily pursuing their leisure activity uninterrupted, oblivious to any change in social distancing.

I hope to return to my perpetual state of maternal nagging very soon, but perhaps with a little less zeal.

Sue Gal Richmond Hill, Ont.

COVID-19 and boomers

Re Social-distancing Advice Exposes Generational Tensions (March 17): In the midst of a normal telephone conversation with our daughter this week, there was a series of questions directed at how our behaviour had changed given COVID-19 concerns, concurrent with an educational piece about the risk to those of us older than 60, healthiness notwithstanding. She mom-ed us!

Trish Crowe Kingston

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