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Tourists wear masks as they bike along the beach in Miami on Dec. 20, 2020, amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images

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Options open

Re The Hotel-quarantine Program Is Half-baked (Feb. 25): I am an 80-year-old snowbird and vaccinated. What is best for me and my fellow Canadians?

Option 1: I have a negative PCR test before my flight, have another test upon arrival, pick up my luggage and drive directly home to quarantine for 14 days.

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Option 2: I have a test, pick up my luggage, proceed to a shuttle, have a driver load my luggage and help me board, sit with other travellers, check in at the hotel front desk, hope my room has been properly sterilized and eat food that hopefully does not make me ill (I am gluten-free and lactose intolerant).

Then if my test is negative, I call for help to take my luggage to the car, sweetly say goodbye at the front desk and sincerely hope that I did not get COVID-19 on this journey.

Grace Stewart Camrose, Alta.


Re Ready Or Not (Letters, Feb. 27): It’s a very good thing that a letter-writer was able to be vaccinated while vacationing in California. There are more than five times the number of cases, and close to three times the number of deaths, in that part of the state compared to his regular residence in Ontario.

Of course even though he is vaccinated – and coming from what we would consider a “grey zone” in Ontario – he still could bring the virus back to Canada. So it’s also a very good thing that people like him, who choose to flout Canadian travel advisories, are obliged to quarantine in a hotel upon arrival.

Maggie Daicar Kingston

Reap the rewards

Re More Than 100 New Research Projects to Receive $518-million In Federal Funding (March 4): The federal government should be commended for providing substantial funding for vaccine research projects to develop and test vaccines. The difficulty lies in the next steps.

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Apparently, the plan is to launch startups to take vaccines to market since, after all, there are no Canadian drug companies that can produce them. The next act in this timeworn script would be the takeover of successful startups and their patents by foreign pharmaceutical companies. They would then manufacture the vaccines elsewhere, make lots of money and wait for us to ask if we can have any of the vaccines we developed.

I plan to buy some shares in foreign drug companies. Then, if I manage to get the vaccine I need to survive a pandemic, perhaps I will get a bit of my taxpayer investment back in dividends.

Jim Paulin Ottawa

Free idea

Re Ottawa To Fund Vending Machines That Dispense Safer Supply To Drug Users (March 3): Drug vending machines are a first step to controlling and reducing drug dependency. Dealers can’t promote a dangerously unregulated opioid source when a safe product is free. Furthermore, anyone who has been on narcotics for weeks would understand that using the minimum quantity (barely controlling pain) allows almost entirely normal activities while one is being weaned off.

Free nurse-run injection sites (or perhaps even in a recipient’s home) would be immensely more cost-effective than dealing with crime and homelessness – let alone hospitalization and overdose deaths – brought on by drug dependency.

Gavin Hamilton MD, FRCPC; London, Ont.

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East and West

Re PEI Black Historians Seek To Honour ‘The Bog’ (Feb. 26): The history of The Bog, where the land lived on by a Black community was expropriated, reminds me of John Ware Reclaimed, the new National Film Board film about the Black Albertan cowboy.

The film indicates that although he, his wife and five children were well established in Millarville, the expected arrival of “settlers” meant he felt he had to move his family and cattle to Duchess and start over again by building a log cabin. To walk that distance today would take about 41 hours.

Nattanya Hewitt Kingston

Government relations

Re Inuit Midwives Say They Reluctantly Quit After Experiencing Years Of Mistreatment (Online, Feb. 28): These midwives are leaders who have been providing primary maternity services for years, including care of high acuity due to their geographic isolation. We know outcomes for mothers and babies are improved when Indigenous midwives provide care in their own communities. The amount of clinical experience this community has lost as a consequence of government not better supporting these providers is unfathomable to me.

The impact on access to care for families is shameful. I see this as a clear example of institutionalized racism.

Kathleen Babe RM, Toronto

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Re Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs Say Ottawa’s New Fisheries Plan Is Unacceptable (March 5): Canadians everywhere should be concerned with Ottawa’s recent statement on the Mi’kmaq lobster fishery. By it, Ottawa would continue to violate the 1752 treaty that gave the Mi’kmaq the “right” to fish.

Ottawa has the right to enforce regulations, and it plans to regulate the size of the Mi’kmaq catch. A treaty gives rights to both signatories, but Ottawa is claiming that it has a separate right to pass regulations which supersedes the treaty. If one signatory can do so, then treaties are meaningless.

In the 1880s, Ottawa made it illegal for First Nations farmers in the Prairies to sell their produce without permission. That violated treaties and reduced them to poverty. First Nations have seen this movie too many times.

There should be no excuse for this situation. If it turns violent again, as is likely, will the RCMP protect Mi’kmaq fishers?

Ed Whitcomb Author, Understanding First Nations: The Legacy of Canadian Colonialism; Ottawa

Testing, testing

Re B.C. Students To Take Standardized Tests Despite Educators’ Concerns (Feb. 24): Foundation Skills Assessment for grades 4 and 7 were designed for two purposes: to inform the education system of how well basic skills are being achieved in schools, and to inform parents if their children are mastering those skills.

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If parents are not satisfied with the results, they have options. They can ask a school for additional help, change schools, get private tutoring or even do home education. They should see the stepping stones of early reading, writing and numeracy skills as essential for successful further learning.

In fact, I think we need more standardized testing, especially of reading. There should be a “reading screening test” for early grades, way before students reach Grade 4, to see if they are being taught this most foundational of all skills: how to read.

Tunya Audain West Vancouver

Chicken, egg

Re As Jon Stewart Returns To TV, The Daily Show’s Legacy Of Exploiting The News For Laughs Casts A Long Shadow (Arts & Pursuits, Feb. 27): Columnist Cathal Kelly seems to lay the blame for U.S. dysfunction at the feet of those whose only defence against such absurdities is to fight back with absurdities of their own. To do otherwise, such as trying to engage the vain and venal in rational discussion, would be like trying to keep up with fact-checking the Trumpists. How is that going?

True, most of Jon Stewart’s “bits,” especially those done by his “correspondents,” were banal and predictable. But my bookshelves hold many books by authors that Mr. Stewart introduced in the (albeit short) interview section of his show. Ronald Wright, Matt Taibbi and John Perkins, to name a few, introduced complex ideas that have been foundational to me.

Which is the cause and which the effect of the failures in U.S public discourse? I think he’s got this one backward. Perhaps look at Punch from the 19th century?

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Richard Litke Stratford, Ont.

Ride with me

Re City Staff Suggest Yonge St. Bike Lanes, Patio Space (March 5): The pandemic has shown us doctors many things, not the least of which is the importance of exercise and getting outside to the physical and mental health of our patients. A safe, convenient, reliable network of bike lanes is hugely important for making cities safer for cyclists. The proposal for bike lanes on Yonge Street is an excellent step in the right direction.

Peter Sakuls MD, CCFP; Doctors For Safe Cycling; Toronto


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