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Shoppers practice social distancing at a Costco store in Boisbriand, Que., on Thursday, March 26, 2020.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

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Financial support

Re Canadian Charities Ask Ottawa For $10-billion In Support (March 27): I certainly empathize with charities. But after reading the various names and looking up how much some organizations’ administrations are paid, as a taxpayer I would suggest cutting the inflated salaries of the top echelon. Some of these employees are making hundreds of thousands per year, some over $1-million.

Charities should first reduce payroll and bloat before coming back to the table.

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Randy Sterling Blenheim, Ont.


Re Essential Workers Receiving Temporary Pay Boosts (March 25): Companies currently recognizing and rewarding essential workers are to be applauded. However, I see one glaring omission: Long-term care facilities seem to have failed in following suit and increasing compensation for employees, most notably personal support workers.

PSWs often earn little more than minimum wage, are female and, in Toronto, are first-generation immigrants. Many are also hired as casual or temporary workers without benefits or pension plans. Yet LTC facilities remain an epicentre for COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths.

The top brass of Canada’s LTC companies should step forward and immediately, and retroactively, increase compensation for the very workers placing their own lives in danger to care for our frail parents and grandparents.

P. G. Noonan Toronto

Going the distance

It seems some Canadians still believe the COVID-19 pandemic is blown out of proportion. I met two such people last week while walking along the river in London, Ont. Almost everyone respected the two-metre rule, but two men brushed past within a couple of feet.

When I said, “Hey guys, two metres, please,” one swore back at me, adding, “If you’re that scared, stay home!” Here’s the problem with that attitude: My right to swing my fist ends at the tip of his nose, but his virus would go right into my lungs. At my age, I run a higher risk that it will kill me if hospitals are swamped – by such neglect – and run out of respirators. That’s why my space should be respected.

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David Spence CM, MD, FRCPC, Western University; London, Ont.

Learning experience

Re As Schools Move Online, Education May Shift Dramatically (March 26): “The history of education is too often a history of untested assumptions,” I heard in grad school three decades ago. Perhaps it is still true in our rush to find online solutions to learning during this time. Reporter Caroline Alphonso hints at the complexities.

Students need to learn many things and many kinds of things: knowledge, skills, habits of mind, social and emotional competencies and more. One size never fits all, so we should strive toward the levels of sophistication medical research has achieved in the last century. I can only hope that we are collecting evidence on the impact of online learning. Otherwise, we may repeat past mistakes.

John Myers Curriculum instructor, elementary and secondary education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Children who have difficult home situations may be especially disadvantaged in the coming months without the sanctuary that school provides. As well, some children reside in households without internet access or computers. And we know there were already children whose home lives were barely manageable before the adults in their families were suddenly faced with great financial uncertainty. For many of them, money will not be enough to avoid desperation.

The consequences of not addressing this issue could be large. Provinces should provide safe and healthy daytime spaces for these children during the COVID-19 crisis.

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Louise Grogan Guelph, Ont.

Breath of fresh air

Re What Cancer Patients Can Teach Us About Surviving Coronavirus (March 26): It’s not only cancer patients who we can learn from; anyone who has had a life-threatening experience goes through the same process. You decide what is important in life and the devil take the rest.

Years ago, I had a pneumothorax and wound up in ICU. It happens sometimes to skinny guys. The pain had been unbearable. But when they stuck the thousand tubes into me and gave me some morphine, my brain started once again to focus. Over these three days, I had occasion to reflect: The only things that were worthwhile in my life were my wife and my work. Life took on a new perspective.

Needless to say, the pneumothorax did not occur in the United States. Bankruptcy would have been upper-most in my mind otherwise.

Jack Kornblatt Montreal

Are you there god?

Re The Hope At The Heart Of Albert Camus’s Plague Novel, La Peste (Arts and Pursuits, March 28): Reporter Eric Andrew-Gee sees glimmers of hope in Camus’s dark tale about bubonic plague in Algeria. His take is similar to columnist Konrad Yakabuski, who wrote about taking comfort in the “absurdity” of life (Essential Reading For Uncertain Times – Opinion, March 21). With respect to both writers, I do not believe dreary existentialism can give life to those gasping for air.

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At the edge of life, which presently cuts through northern Italy, philosophy should give way to theology; the only tale worth telling boldly gestures toward a transcendent horizon. Imagining myself in the shoes of a suffocating coronavirus patient, I find genuine hope in Father Giuseppe Berardelli, the Italian priest who recently died after giving up his own ventilator so that another man could live. Or in the dozens of other priests who have risked death and paid the price, so they could remind dying patients, in shaky voices, that life is not absurd.

Patrick Smith Edmonton

Let’s play ball

Re Globe Throws Jays, Expos In Computer Tourney For Canadian Baseball Crown (Sports, March 25): I fell in love with baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays in 1985, and have fond memories listening to Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth’s broadcasts through my pillow and checking the box scores in the paper before heading out on my paper route. The Globe’s Canadian in silico tournament is a welcome distraction in these strange times. Kudos to reporter Brad Wheeler for convincing baseball writing.

What would really make every Canadian baseball fan’s day is if Mr. Howarth would come out of retirement and call even just one of these Strat-O-Matic games for us. Please, Jerry?

Yolanda Wiersma St. John’s

Self-isolation 15

Re What To Eat To Maintain Your Immune System (March 23): Ensconced at home, socially isolated, too often I reach for groceries stashed away in preparation for this COVID-19 hibernation. So while, like everyone else, I am doing my bit to help flatten the curve, it seems I am also expanding the curve through my midsection.

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Eric LeGresley Ottawa

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