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Life in the time of coronavirus
Re Trump May Shrug Off The Coronavirus. America May Not (March. 3): I am so often in shock at pervasive statements such as contributor Niall Ferguson’s: “What makes COVID-19 dangerous is not so much the threat it poses to the average person’s life, but the threat it poses to economic growth.” In my seemingly disposable opinion, there is nothing more priceless than life, human and otherwise. Money is opportunity, yes, and it is freedom. It is necessary, but the economy can wait while life struggles and this virus plays itself out.
It is people that should matter most. A few bucks lost is just tough luck.
Cathy McCashin Vancouver
Re Coronavirus Transmission Inevitable In Canada, Doctors Say (March 3): What’s it like being a family doctor during the coronavirus crisis? A lot like it was during the SARS crisis: Lots of notices, bulletins and advisories, mostly repetitious or redundant, with essentially nothing that couldn’t be gleaned from information available to the general public.
Personal protective equipment supplied by the Ministry of Health? Not so far, with no word about when or if that will be coming. (So we’re basically behind everyone else in line at Shoppers Drug Mart). Clear guidelines about how we should function if things get worse? Nope.
So while I read regularly about how much better prepared we are now having gone through SARS, for those of us on the front-lines of health care, it’s feeling a lot like “ 'déjà-virus’ all over again."
Deborah Kestenbaum MD, Toronto
Re Wet’suwet’en Deal Won’t Stop Construction Of Coastal GasLink Pipeline, B.C. Premier Says (March 3): Like a soccer player taking a dive, it seems Canadians feign catastrophic injury at the slightest sign of Indigenous dissent – ignoring the critical role civil disobedience has played in advancing social progress throughout our history.
Meanwhile, I see the Trudeau government continues to promise that Indigenous rights will never be ignored again – after this one last time. For the deal between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the federal and provincial governments to have any meaning, it should result in an actual change in outcome, and not simply convenient promises for the future.
Robin Fast Victoria
Re How Trudeau Could Still Save His Climate Agenda (Report on Business, March 2): Columnist Adam Radwanski makes a good point in suggesting that oil sands cannot be the sole focus of Canada’s climate agenda. But it would be a mistake to think that addressing Canada’s largest emission sources can be done without a fight.
Whether greenhouse-gas emissions are from transportation, oil and gas or otherwise, there are entrenched interests that would make a fight inevitable. Canada should not shy away from such fights if our future is to be protected. I do not believe a rallying cry of “let’s all just try to get along” will solve the climate crisis.
Albert Koehl Toronto
MAID and mental health
Re Ottawa Proposes Tweaks Rather Than Sweeping Changes To Assisted-dying Law (Feb. 25): In discussing whether assisted dying should be allowed where mental illness is the sole underlying medical condition, no mention is made of dementia conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, that are usually considered a mental disorder.
My wife developed Alzheimer’s dementia about 10 years ago, her sole underlying condition. My family and I have watched with great distress as she steadily “disappeared” as a person over the years. I am also a physician with major experience in watching patients with dementia, and the needs of their caregivers.
I have found that patients continually deteriorate physically and mentally, and more quickly mentally to the point of mental incompetence; that patient’s loved ones who are also caregivers suffer psychologically and emotionally, and require continuous and varied care as well; that patients become mentally incompetent and unable to make care decisions.
I believe patients soon enter a state that has no quality of life and should be allowed to end it with a medically assisted death. They should also be permitted to make a legal request for this before they become mentally incompetent.
Nicholas Evans Diamant MD, FRCPC; Kingston
Re GMP Capital Offers Shares, Bonuses To Convince Advisers To Sell Stake In Richardson GMP (Report on Business, Feb. 27): GMP Capital’s reorganization plans for Richardson GMP call for retention bonuses of $36-million and shares to be paid to advisers as an inducement for them to remain with the company for at least three years. The article also mentions, incidentally, that these advisers administer $30-billion of client assets. Well now, aren’t those the assets that the company wants to retain?
What about an inducement to clients to stay with the company? As a painless, non-cash inducement, I suggest that waiving the 1-per-cent management fee for the next three years would offer suitable encouragement.
David Salter Bath, Ont.
Re As Liberals Work Out Assault-rifle Ban, New Guns Hit The Market (March 2): It appears that the government is having some difficulty with defining exactly what types of weapons to prohibit under its expanded gun-control policy. In order to simplify the process, I propose that the government creates one easily understood definition to cover all firearms: If it shoots bullets that can kill people, it should be banned.
Brian Caines Ottawa
Re Toronto Considering Tax On Empty Storefronts (Report on Business, Feb. 27): A few years ago, I found myself in a situation that still keeps me awake at night: I had shut down a money-losing retail business and still had three years left on my lease.
The space sat vacant for several months as I desperately tried to sublease. After months of no interest, I was told there was a local theatre group looking for a place to hold meetings and rehearsals (I don’t believe they had much money). So they used my storefront at no charge.
While I did not get any financial return from this arrangement, the theatre group contributed to the economy in the neighbourhood by going out for beers or coffee. Pedestrians often stopped and watched the rehearsals. The group also helped to keep the space clean and tidy, inside and out.
I’m not saying I have the answer to Toronto’s empty-storefront problem, but there are many community groups that could benefit from using an empty space, and at the same time contribute to the vibrancy of a neighbourhood.
Brian Michasiw Saskatoon
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