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The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine is shown at a vaccine clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Dec. 15, 2020.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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Still no luck

Re Shot In The Arm (Letters, March 8): I am pleased for a letter-writer who received her first vaccine efficiently and has an appointment arranged for her second dose. It makes me wonder, however, why my wife (born 1936) and I (born 1937) have had no luck making appointments.

After wasting hours online to no avail, and more hours on the phone, we fully expect to die of old age before we ever get vaccinated.

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Larry Black Barrie, Ont.

Public versus private

Re Let’s Rethink Canada’s Health Care System (March 5): I can appreciate that many people believe increased privatization will deliver better health care to Canadians. However, it seems a bit much to make the case that more competition would encourage “change, efficiency and innovation,” without so much as a passing mention of the tragedy of long-term care during the pandemic.

There is more than enough blame to go around, but in a sector dominated by private chains, the profit motive appears to have been a particularly lethal factor in the effort to protect elderly Canadians. As a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal recently concluded: “For-profit status is associated with the extent of an outbreak of COVID-19 in LTC homes and the number of resident deaths.” There is a world of suffering behind those tempered words, and private health care providers are deeply implicated.

David Kraft Toronto

I’ve worked in countries with and without private health care options. If one combines a shortage of physicians with an option to earn more in the private setting, the impact on the public system seems predictable.

William Love Burlington, Ont.

Kudos to contributor Tony Fell for reminding us that private health care should be a necessity in Canada, because federal finances can’t keep up with growing need. My family and friends in Britain pay for private clinics, which produce timely and medically excellent results.

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Why not follow Britain on a proven path?

Tony Layton Westmount, Que.

Contributor Tony Fell believes that “a private-sector safety valve is just plain good policy, based on the international evidence.” Having lived in Britain for 60 years, I found it to be very bad policy resulting in reasonable care for the well-off and much worse care for those who are not.

Robert Ingram Vancouver

I agree with contributor Tony Fell that Canadian health care is in desperate need of a rethink. However, a parallel for-profit system would only siphon off scarce resources from the public system, resulting in even greater restricted access to care for those without means.

A more equitable approach would be to make more efficient use of existing resources. This means an increased emphasis on community health; expanded scope of practice for nurse practitioners, nurses and allied health professionals; more multidisciplinary team approaches; adequate compensation and working conditions for personal support workers etc.

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As the pandemic has demonstrated in long-term care, using profit as a driver for health care is often a recipe for disaster.

Robert Lachance Toronto

Having practised medicine in Canada, the United States, Australia and Mexico over four decades, I am convinced that the solution of Tommy Douglas is far more far-sighted and fair to society and individuals than that of B.C. doctor Brian Day.

Health care is a basic human right, equal for all, and should not be a for-profit business. Canada is on the right track and should not abandon this approach, but rather improve it without the imposition of opponents such as Dr. Day.

Harvey Sarnat MD, FRCPC; Calgary

Doing better

Re Six Ways We Can Do Better To Bridge The Gender Divide (March 8): At one point during my career in insurance, I worked as a customer-service supervisor. One male client, who wished to complain about our service, didn’t want to speak to me or my immediate boss, but to a man in a position of authority. With great pride, I explained that my entire chain of command, up to and including the chief executive officer, were women.

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This may have just been a moment in time, but it was impressive for sure.

Margaret Smith Toronto

Years ago, working at a large financial institution, I was the only man in a team of five. When my male boss casually told me that I was the highest-paid, I naturally attributed it to my smarts. At the time, it never occurred to me that my equally smart female co-workers may have been paid less merely because of their gender. Now, years later, it bothers me.

So yes, men have a role to play in addressing the gender pay gap. It will not shrink as long as it is viewed as a women’s issue. It should bother all working men.

Asad Ansari Oakville, Ont.

Father’s day

Re Being There For His Son And Family Was Enough For Walter Gretzky and Brantford’s Lord Mayor Stayed True To His Roots (Sports, March 6): In February, 2020, I took my 11-year-old grandson to a Maple Leafs game. We decided to eat beforehand at Wayne Gretzky’s Toronto restaurant, where Walter Gretzky showed up with one of his sons. He was immediately inundated with staff and customers wanting their picture taken with him. Walter picked out my grandson and said, ”The boy first.”

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Later, my grandson went to his table and thanked him. Walter asked his name and pulled out a small notepad with “Walter Gretzky” inscribed on each page. He proceeded to print out my grandson’s name on one of the notes, laborious letter by laborious letter.

He asked if Brayden had a sister, and he did the same for her. He talked to us for a few minutes and said he would see us at the game.

What a guy. Everyone’s dream father.

Mark Cox Oakville, Ont.

My parents lived near the Gretzky family in Brantford, Ont. In 1997, when my son was 12, he worked up the courage to knock on the door with a letter for Wayne. Walter was on his own, eating lunch, but insisted my son come inside, and us too. The following hour was the gift of a lifetime.

While quizzing our son on sports knowledge (with the encouragement skills of a great coach), Walter walked us through the priceless memorabilia with stories, the warmest smile and unbelievable generosity of spirit. He let this boy he just met wear Wayne’s Team Canada jersey. As we were finally leaving, he followed us to the car, looked to the sky and told a story about the moon.

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Walter lifted us up. Our thanks to him.

Marie Boutilier Toronto

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