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A single lane remains heading into Canada from the U.S. at the Peace Arch border crossing in Blaine, Wash., May 17, 2020.

Elaine Thompson/The Associated Press

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Separation anxiety

Re Father Travelling To Attend Son’s Birth Denied At Border (May 16): While I have some sympathy for the expectant mother and her partner, let’s not forget the families who are making greater sacrifices.

Many hospitalized because of COVID-19 suffered and died alone; seniors in long-term care are alone, having not been visited or supported outside their residences. Some front-line workers are self-isolating away from home; armed forces members are away and working in long-term care. Grandparents have not held newborn grandchildren – the list goes on.

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Border agents are making difficult decisions, but I respect that they are holding a firm line based on public-health advice. Making individual exceptions on compassionate grounds can take us down a slippery slope.

Diane Gorman Ottawa

Re Can I Come Over? (Letters, May 19): Kevin and I spent 2½ months apart before meeting this week at Peace Arch Park, which encompasses a B.C. provincial park and a Washington State park.

It was a tearful embrace, in a space scattered with families and lovers. Now, we prepare for another seven weeks apart, if park reunions are not counted. This is my husband. A relationship I fought for, with my family disapproving because of race and class.

I can’t describe the self-convincing endured in telling ourselves we deserved a wedding ceremony and celebration. Now everything is postponed. I can’t take him for granted or even the time we have.

As the Kanye West song goes, “Nothing’s ever promised, tomorrow today.”

That night, lying in bed, I felt I had time-travelled, seeing him in the park then coming back to my own world, alone. I’m tired of hearing people say it must suck.

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Amrita Kauldher Burnaby, B.C.

National concern

Re Nationalizing Care Homes Won’t Necessarily Improve The Situation (May 15): Columnist John Ibbitson points out that we need to think carefully about how to repair the broken system of long-term care.

While necessary, I don’t believe these reforms would be sufficient.

There are few living options for our aging population other than institutional settings, yet there are many successful examples around the world of alternative living arrangements that combine humane, safe and affordable care.

Co-housing enables small groups to live together in family-style homes, where residents care for each other. Intergenerational housing matches older adults with students, who get free rent in exchange for free care.

Dementia villages provide secure environments that allow residents to avoid institutions and move safely within their borders.

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These care models have never been widely embraced in Canada.

Unfortunately, it has taken a terrifying pandemic to wake us up to the fact that more of the same will likely not be enough.

Sherri Torjman Toronto

Amid discourse about the essential services of personal support workers, I believe a central point remains obscured: The entire long-term care sector – both public and private – has engineered the job to be part-time in order to avoid paying benefits.

What percentage of PSWs want a full-time job versus the percentage who have a full-time job?

That differential should show the actual scale of structural error.

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Top-ups of hourly wages or injections of danger pay, as announced in Ontario, do not address this issue.

Rather, re-engineering PSW jobs for safety would require maximizing full-time rosters across the board.

This is readily achievable. Provinces could start now in public residences, then add licensing requirements for private residences.

Polly Thompson Toronto

Re Ontario Orders Commission To Probe Long-term Care (May 20): There is one group that we have rarely heard from: residents themselves. Do they want to be saved?

I raise this point after spending nine years closely associated with the long-term care home where my mother lived. My impression was that at a certain point, despite the very best efforts of those involved in providing care, declining health makes the prospect of continued life unattractive. I came to the conclusion that, at a certain point, further sustaining life was inhumane.

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That is why I raise the issue of whether residents have been asked about their wishes.

George Parker Cobourg, Ont.

Columnist Gary Mason says “pets are treated better" than our seniors (The Case For Putting Seniors’ Care Under The Canada Health Act – May 9). Indeed, we often say that we must mercifully put our pets out of their misery.

Surely this is the time to consider dignity in dying.

I am 78 and want very sincerely to be able to write an advanced order. This would not only be of relief to many seniors, but would also save the health care system a lot of money – there, I said it!

The obvious place to raise money for senior care should be inheritance taxes.

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Canada is way behind most European countries in bringing in such taxes.

My sons will not like this suggestion. But why should everyone else fund care for Mum and Dad, only so the kids can have money that they have not earned?

Nichola Hall Vancouver

Human nature

Re Nature’s Beauty Can Hide Its Cruelty – Until It Becomes Our Enemy (May 18): Contributor Paul Abela seems to have projected an unaddressed fear of death onto the natural world. The inevitability of death does not seem to stop the birds from singing or the bees from making sweet honey. When we face death honestly, it can bring us into a deep appreciation of the beauty and ephemeral nature of life.

The estrangement he describes may well be largely his own truth, not humanity’s.

Conrad Sichler Hamilton

I particularly liked this phrase from contributor Paul Abela: “We seem to be born cosmic orphans with no natural place of existential rest.” Having retired to a comfortable home overlooking the Bay of Fundy, I confess that I do find it restful here. Especially at this time of year, when a woodpecker – one of those few self-same birds Prof. Abela mentions – drums on the exact same branch of a maple tree outside my window to call up her breakfast.

That which annually brings the same creature to the same source of sustenance, after migrating thousands of kilometres, brings an orderly, calm sense of wonder and rest to my mind.

Patrick Whiteway Black Rock, N.S.

Anyone who thinks that nature is nothing but beneficent has clearly never been out in the Ontario bush at this time of year. Two words: black flies.

Christopher White Whitby, Ont.

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