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Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-U.S. border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Unique challenges are facing residents in Canadian and U.S. border cities and towns amid a ban on non-essential travel between the two countries during the pandemic.

Rob Gurdebeke/The Canadian Press

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How are we doing?

Re How To Stop A Pandemic At The Border (Editorial, May 15): When people abroad flew back to Canada, we packed them into crowded arrival halls with no screening, then sent them home with no quarantine, for much too long. We are still not telling everyone to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from asymptomatic carriers (that’s likely what saved Hong Kong). Now we are going to let people loose before any definitive sign that the curve is flattening.

I believe this neglect will not only result in more Canadian lives lost, but also worsen the huge debt the next generation will face.

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David Spence London, Ont.

I am surprised at the time it took The Globe and Mail to write this editorial. The gap between the government’s confident assurances on travel management and testing versus the reality has been apparent to me since March.

Canadians, for the most part, have been understanding that this is a very difficult situation. However, it appears there is a consistent lag between serious government pronouncements and the adoption of practical measures.

Brian Doyle Beaconsfield, Que.

Part of the problem, I’ve found, is that the average person does not know they may now more easily meet testing criteria.

Recently, I had a situation for which I would have been refused a test not long ago. I called Telehealth Ontario and was quickly directed to my local assessment centre. I got tested later that day, and the results were available online the following evening. Our public-health officials should be more aggressive in getting this message out about availability and encourage many more people to seek testing.

Sandy Feldstein Thornhill, Ont.

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Now or later?

Re Stephen Harper Strikes Back With A Warning About Big Government (May 14): Stephen Harper seems to have a one-track mind. In reaching out to The Wall Street Journal, he is preaching to the choir about big government being a bad thing.

Mr. Harper is correct to suggest that some wide-scale austerity is ahead and that, to paraphrase Scotiabank, we’re poorer than we think. However, the vast majority of people and small businesses have been handed a necessary lifeline during circumstances not seen since 1918.

Ron Charach Toronto

Fiscal conservatives such as Stephen Harper remain an important part of our Canadian political reality, even if they have to publish their opinions in New York. They are one more reason why the federal government’s COVID-19-related borrowing should be seen, in effect, as another massive inter-generational wealth transfer.

Although The Globe and Mail’s editorial claims Canada could just keep borrowing to finance new debts (Lessons From The Way We Paid For WWII – April 28), many citizens and politicians do not share that belief. Sometimes, those politicians even win majorities in Parliament.

Future rounds of austerity remain a very real threat to the vulnerable, including young Canadians and future generations who do not have the votes to protect their interests. Our government is borrowing and lending huge sums today, to help people who own assets today. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

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Nathan Hume Vancouver

Need a hand?

Re Ottawa’s Financial Aid For Seniors Doesn’t Address Investment Losses (Report on Business, May 13): Rather than asking government to bail out seniors who didn’t properly manage their RRIFs (again, after 2008!) we should be advising them to ensure they hold enough liquid, low-risk investments or cash to easily make payments as they come due.

The rules are well known. Government should not change them in the middle of a tax year to accommodate those who are still speculating where the stock market will be when payments are required. Further, taxes on RRIF withdrawals are especially important as the federal deficit balloons by billions during this crisis.

There are also considerable administrative complexities caused by any midyear changes. I didn’t realize it myself, until so enlightened by a friend in a senior administrative position at a major financial institution.

TBK Martin CPA, CA, CFP; Toronto

As a senior who has suffered significant losses to my savings, I ask: Will it bounce back in my lifetime? I, for one, welcome the government’s $300. For many, it will seem like a drop in an ocean of incalculable loss.

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Many seniors are baffled by investment strategy; the gambling habits of stock markets make for incredible volatility. Stable financial support for seniors should be reconfigured There must be a better way of sustaining us. Are we doomed to be incarcerated in care facilities, dying with every epidemic or pandemic?

Governments have long provided handouts to big business. Does this not backstop the wealth of rich individuals? Why not provide the same for seniors?

Elizabeth Allchin St. Albert, Alta.

Can I come over?

Re Dear America: You’re Sick. Don’t Visit Us (Editorial, May 9): The Globe and Mail’s editorial suggests that non-essential U.S-Canada border crossings should not be allowed until at least the end of summer, owing to my U.S. government having done a poor job of managing COVID-19. But the issue is more complicated for an American such as myself.

I have been married to a Canadian for almost 50 years. Our daughter is a physician on the front line, in the emergency room at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. And we have owned a cottage near Ottawa for many years. We are not tourists.

I admire Canadians for their civility and compassion. Surely, forms can be posted online for U.S. citizens who own property in Canada to complete and submit to customs, including an electronic endorsement that we self-quarantine for two weeks.

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History will judge us not only by our medical response to COVID-19, but by our compassion and adaptability to the human condition.

Andrew Ostrow Morgantown, W. Va.

Re Border Closing Divides Families, Couples (May 11): I told my partner of five years that our baby was a boy – via FaceTime. I am nearly 28 weeks pregnant and he lives in Connecticut. My anxiety is high as a first-time mother, but the fear of Brandon not playing a role during pregnancy and delivery is devastating to my mental health.

He has twice desperately attempted to cross at the Niagara Falls border, making the six-hour drive from his home. Although his visiting has been deemed unessential, I beg Canadian authorities for some leniency in this situation. We have a place to quarantine if he were to stay here.

I cannot celebrate the joy of my first child. This time has become unbearable.

This isn’t right.

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Andrea Marian Lynch Sarnia, Ont.

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