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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on COVID-19 situation in Canada from his residence March 19, 2020, in Ottawa.DAVE CHAN/AFP/Getty Images

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Healthy applause

Re Health-care Workers On The Front Line Are Heroes – And They Deserve Our Recognition (Opinion, March 14): Contributor Kevin Patterson’s sensitive analysis of the selfless dedication of health-care providers should be read by all citizens of the world. Each one of us should reach out to these unsung heroes and truly thank them for their dedication.

I think it is also time to tell our governments that, at the very least, a day be set aside to honour these individuals, who willingly put themselves in harm’s way to help and protect us.

Bob Erwin Ottawa

I see that public health workers across Ontario, including those in our local, are emerging as the unsung heroes in the fight against the pandemic. They are helping those critically affected by COVID-19 and assisting residents in self-quarantine. They are paramedics responding to calls, nurses working in long-term care homes and nurses who make home visits to help the most vulnerable residents, among many others.

I want to express my gratitude to these workers, and particularly our members, for their dedication to this fight. As measures to contain COVID-19 ramp up, I urge everyone to do their part and support the tireless efforts of public health workers. We are all in this together! Now more than ever, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Doug Sheppard York Region & Long Term Care Unit Chairperson, CUPE 905; Newmarket, Ont.

Free them

Re Prisons Pose A Special Risk. We Need To Release Non-violent Offenders (March 19): We as a society should ask ourselves whether the loss of liberty for those in jail includes the loss of health and protection from COVID-19. If this disease lands in our jails, disaster awaits.

Solitary confinement or lockdowns would not be self-isolation. Social distancing would be non-existent. Correctional staff would be concerned for their own safety and need to be protected as well. The general jail population would not be able to escape – that is the essence of incarceration.

Those who deal with the justice system in Canada should immediately collaborate, and identify who is in custody and facilitate release where appropriate. To protect from the virus, many should be scheduled to be released soon. All but a very few should be released eventually. If we wait and they carry an untreated virus back into the community, we all would pay a price medically and morally.

William Trudell Chair, Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers; Toronto

Full disclosure

Re Scenes From A National Emergency As COVID-19 Disrupts Life In The U.S. (March 14): I hear the daily updates from Erie County officials in Buffalo, N.Y. They give numbers of infection, age and sex of those infected, type of transmission (community- or travel-related) and, most importantly, where patients have been and when they were there in the days leading up to their positive tests. Names are withheld, but details are given about how and where they are being isolated.

In Ontario, we receive nothing like this. How are we to know whether we have been at risk in our local supermarket if such information isn’t fully communicated? I’d prefer to have facts and precise information, not paternalistic reassurances.

Jim Reynolds Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.


Re Wage Plan Won’t Save Jobs, Businesses Warn (Report on Business, March 19): The Trudeau government’s support for small businesses feels like a cruel joke.

Our business expenses total more than $5,000 a month. Of that, $3,000 goes toward salaries. Mr. Trudeau says small businesses will receive 10 per cent in salary support – for us, that amounts to a paltry $300, or 6 per cent of expenses. Our costs will still be $4,700 a month with this minute support and, similar to many small businesses, our revenues will have sunk to practically nothing, especially if we close our doors to isolate, as many are doing.

As well, I understand the new loan program still includes funds that must eventually be paid back. Even if we stay open, we will owe close to $30,000 in six months and $60,000 in 12 months. We would rather just close our doors and walk away rather than dig such a hole, and I believe most small businesses feel the same.

Meanwhile, Denmark is offering 75-per-cent support for salaries, which makes it much more possible for Danish businesses to stay afloat. Here, we will be bankrupt in six months with such minimal help from government, regardless if we stay open with minimal revenue or self-isolate and close.

Paul Allen Montreal

At a time when businesses are shutting down and many are losing their jobs, I feel almost privileged to be a retired person living on a modest fixed income. At least I continue to have an income. And that makes me wonder if the impact on vulnerable workers could have been softened more quickly and efficiently, had a guaranteed-income program been in place before the crisis began.

David Francis Toronto

What relief?

Re Trudeau Opens Stimulus Taps As Alberta Laments ‘Profound Adversity’ (March 19): I am glad that the government is assisting homeowners with their mortgages. What about renters?

We have the same issues: loss of income, difficulty paying our bills at this time. For the next six months, the government should reduce rents across the country by 50 per cent. It should also reduce taxes for landlords so they can afford the reduction.

Many renters are often the people who live paycheque to paycheque – we need help.

Sandra Shubs Toronto

In response to the pandemic, the Canadian government has reduced interest rates, unveiled an aid package and deferred federal taxes. I have not heard anyone mention municipal property taxes.

The coronavirus will hopefully settle down by the end of the year, but I believe it will continue to affect the economy for years to come. I would like to see property-tax relief for at least the next three years. Who is going to suffer in the meantime? Middle-class households, low-income families and small businesses.

Municipalities should take this issue seriously to prevent undue hardship on taxpayers, who should be protected before city coffers. I believe property tax is the largest burden on individuals.

Mahmood Awan Richmond, B.C.

Long held to be the twin inevitabilities, it seems to be the right time to revisit "death and taxes.” While the latter is now on hold, let’s hope that the former follows suit.

Farley Helfant Toronto

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