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A normally bustling Queen Street West is lined with closed stores and empty of shoppers in Toronto, on March 25, 2020.

Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

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Landlord lament

Re PM Urges Commercial Landlords To Use Rent Relief (Report on Business, May 21): To suggest that landlords are greedy is to assume that they are waiting to evict tenants in favour of new ones prepared to pay more.

In reality, the period preceding the pandemic had the highest rents of the decade, or ever. Why would landlords want that relationship to end? Where would tenants come from who would be prepared, in a post-pandemic period of recession, to pay even more rent to “greedy” landlords?

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Almost all landlords will lose significant rent and good tenants in a no-win scenario.

Neil McLaughlin President, McLaughlin Properties, Burlington, Ont.

Travel trepidation

Re PM Says Ottawa Will Look At Airline Refund Policies (Report on Business, May 22): I can’t help but wonder if the greatest impediment to the resumption of international travel won’t be border restrictions, increased costs or onerous airport routines, but rather the lack of reasonably priced travel insurance.

Without a vaccine, insurance companies may not be willing to take on the risk of cancellations and out-of-country illnesses due to COVID-19. Policies may not be available, or offered at exorbitant prices.

Bruce Mitchell Comox, B.C.

Paltry penalties

Re Facebook To Pay $9-million Penalty For Misleading Privacy Claims (Report on Business, May 20): Bravo to the Competition Bureau for negotiating a penalty "significant in Canadian terms.” Now please work on increasing the maximum penalty limit for these sorts of violations to reflect a new reality.

If the United States can negotiate a US$5-billion penalty with an estimated 190 million Facebook users, I believe Canada deserves a payment closer to US$500-million for an estimated 19 million users – $9-million doesn’t even represent a day’s earnings for the company.

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The Competition Bureau’s penalty limit was last changed in 2013, when Facebook netted US$1.5-billion. Their gross earnings have ballooned over 100 times since then and, while not perfect, it seems a good starting point for a higher limit. Time for our Competition Act to act.

Cynthia Pitura Toronto

Data dive

Re Mortality Report Lacks Data, Experts Say (May 14): Had agreed data standards never been created for the internet, the internet would not exist! Common and agreed standards are essential to data-sharing, and this is especially critical to tracking COVID-19.

Data inadequacies in every province compromise this. The federal government should establish common COVID-19 data standards and ensure data-sharing. Moreover, it should act as quickly as it did to introduce the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Keith Chandler Ajax, Ont.

Canadian connections

Re Five Eyes Allies Urged To Lessen Dependence On China (May 21): Canada should adjust to a dramatically changed world order. In recent years, Canada was already struggling to insulate itself from excessive dependence on the unpredictable international behaviour of its largest trading partner, while also having to cope with the growing international clout of China. COVID-19 has added another source of complications that we do not yet fully understand.

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Realigning Canada’s international position would not be new. A hundred years ago, the country saw itself as an extension of Britain. There is also a tendency to seek closer ties with powerful countries, such as Germany and France, with which it has much in common. There is nothing wrong with this.

May I suggest that Canada might also, with advantage, cultivate closer ties with the Netherlands? Yes, it’s a small country, but one that is strategically located and punches economically well above its weight. Here, Canada has one enormous advantage: an almost inexhaustible well of goodwill thanks to previous wartime efforts.

Boudewyn van Oort Victoria

Tough truths

Re A Pandemic Lesson: A Tooth Can Set You Free (May 18): Columnist Gary Mason writes that “missing a tooth is certainly a minor, mostly cosmetic inconvenience.” It may be far more than a “minor inconvenience” for an unemployed worker who is attempting to re-enter the work force, but is too embarrassed by a missing front tooth to go for an interview, or for the child whose family has no dental insurance, and so loses a tooth due to an abscess.

While tooth loss may be an easily remedied situation for those with dental insurance, for others it remains a major impediment to physical, psychological and economic health. Until policy-makers, government leaders and influential institutions recognize this and strive to correct this situation, smiling will continue to not be a pleasant and natural option for many Canadians.

Jack Lee Toronto

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Fitness fears

Re Has COVID-19 Put An Expiry Date On Big Box Fitness? Let’s Hope So (May 18): The fitness industry did evolve, using a business model that reflected the needs of demographics and the socioeconomic environment. Because of a virus, the industry now experiences a version of “creative destruction” and again will adapt.

I am 73; my wife is 72. We use GoodLife and I also use Fortis. They serve our needs. Many GoodLife clients are either front-end boomers or from the silent generation. Our needs include stretching, yoga, Pilates, massages, steam baths, resistance exercises and the advice of trainers.

Upon learning gyms were to be shut for months at least, I was concerned about the toll on older users. Sitting is all too easy without the motivation of old routines and fellow gym members. For many, this shutdown is purgatory, and advancing age will make a return to a healthier and happier recent past a very gruelling journey.

Bob Ewen Toronto

Potato potential

Re Pandemic Decreases Demand For PEI’s Potatoes (May 16): To make up a 20-per-cent loss in sales, Mark Phillips of the PEI Potato Board is asking Islanders “to get creative when they cook.” PEI potato production is over one million tonnes annually; that works out to about 70 potatoes daily for each household in order to make up the deficit.

This reminds me of that delightful children’s book, Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat. I can imagine travelling the island and seeing streams of golden, freshly fried latkes (or maybe French fries) pouring out of every kitchen window. What a tourist attraction that would be!

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Patrick Tighe Petawawa, Ont.

Savvy salons

Re Businesses, Residents Adjust To New Routines As B.C. Reopens (May 20): While B.C. salons were permitted to reopen, some stylists say that, given the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, it does not make economic sense to operate. My salon is waiting two weeks to reopen. Others are taking no more than four customers per day, and no new clients.

A slow reopening may be a rational choice for a stylist who wants to keep their earnings low enough to qualify for CERB. Unfortunately, this means a longer wait for those of us hoping to quit the long-haired hippie look.

Constance Smith Victoria

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