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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks and is projected onto large screens as he takes part in the COVID-19 Pandemic Committee in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 27, 2020.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

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If we can do it

Re Parliament Is An Essential Public Service (Editorial, May 27): Other businesses and institutions, forced by the pandemic to retool, rethink and reinvent, are having countless virtual meetings, often with large numbers, where democratic principles are followed and all voices may be heard.

Where I teach, I have been astounded, sometimes overwhelmed and exceedingly proud of our leadership in this regard. My colleagues, staff, faculty and administrators have been hard-working, transparent and unfailingly following our processes to ensure good governance.

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I am frankly outraged and disappointed that our elected officials don’t feel they can manage the same. The technology is there. Make it happen. Now.

Kimberly Barber Associate dean: external, faculty of music, Wilfrid Laurier University; Waterloo, Ont.

State of things

Re Military Details Horrific State Of Ontario Care Homes (May 27): If only a tiny fraction of the energy and money spent on the legalization and sale of marijuana had been spent on improving Ontario’s long-term care homes, the “horrific state” of this headline would likely not exist.

K. M. Peckan MD; Waterloo, Ont.

Some Canadians would argue that it is a stretch to utilize the armed forces to help operate long-term health facilities in Ontario and Quebec, particularly now that dozens of them have tested positive for COVID-19. On the other hand, it is interesting to note that these same soldiers were the first responders to highlight the grimness of conditions in some of these facilities.

It appears to be a sad reflection on how these operations have been monitored by government. It’s taken the military for the public to receive a more transparent report.

J. G. Gilmour Calgary

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The failure of rules, regulations and inspections is one thing. What is truly distressing to me is that the people who own and manage long-term care homes appear to lack the decency and humanity to properly look after the most vulnerable members of our society.

Tim Jeffery Toronto

Re If Ford Wants Long-term Care Reform, He Should Be Decisive And Just Do It (May 27): Columnist André Picard cuts through all the blather. We don’t need commissions nor inquiries. We need the problems fixed. We have people dying in agony and in the most undignified manner, all because the problems seem to have been apparent for years and ignored.

Fortunately, we do have facilities across the country that offer exemplary care. We need only to copy the best. The bad and the failures can be replaced. We can and should do it now.

Ron Posno MD; London, Ont.

I believe the horrific situation in many long-term care facilities, and our inability to develop a robust national testing and tracing strategy, are symptoms of the same problem: We do not have a unified health care system.

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Instead, we have multiple provincial health insurance plans that have managed increasing costs by contracting out services such as labs and seniors’ care to private companies with inadequate oversight. This fragmented system is unwieldy and inefficient at the best of times.

Canadian medicare was first established under a Liberal (minority) government in Lester Pearson’s day. But in the decades since, the federal government has shifted its responsibility with diminishing cash transfers to provinces. Does Justin Trudeau have the courage and vision to revitalize medicare in Canada?

Rebecca Kent MD; Huntsville, Ont.

I am a retired personal support worker and my mother is in long-term care. I know that three PSWs cannot care for 32 residents. That’s why I hire extra help for her every day.

Whose fault is it when staff get sick and there may be only one staffer for all residents? Doug Ford and Justin Trudeau say how horrible people have been treated. But who can provide the care? Angels, maybe.

On a normal day, my mom can ring her call bell for hours. Over the years, paperwork has doubled, but staff hasn’t increased for much heavier work. Who’s at fault? I believe it’s the government.

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Sherry Brown Pickering, Ont.

Toronto the…

Re Tory Warns Of ‘Devastating’ Cuts Without Help From Other Levels Of Government (May 23): For Ontarians who reside outside the Greater Toronto Area, Toronto Mayor John Tory’s appeal to provincial and federal authorities for billions of dollars in aid feels most irritable.

In smaller communities and townships, local governments must ensure there is sufficient income to meet local needs. Taxes should cover expenditures. It’s not a complicated equation. Want to spend more? Raise taxes. Want to keep taxes low? Curtail spending.

Relative to comparable properties in Toronto, our local taxes are much higher. Guess who will likely ante up in a bailout of Torontonians, who seem unwilling to pay market-value property taxes to meet their city’s insatiable spending appetite? Yes, everyone else.

Ted Chivers Victoria Harbour, Ont.

A seldom-mentioned source of revenue could be to levy a civic income tax, 1 per cent or 2 per cent, on all people employed by institutions and businesses within a city’s boundaries.

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Many years ago, I lived and worked in Pittsburgh, at a time when steel mills were no longer emitting quantities of soot. The air was much cleaner and the city had rebuilt its downtown. Universities and cultural organizations were flourishing, as were the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers. It was a vibrant and civilized place to live.

At that time, the city collected 1 per cent of everyone’s wages to help pay for services. I don’t remember anyone complaining about this. It seemed a reasonable trade-off for being employed in the city and benefiting from its amenities, even for those who lived outside its boundaries.

I believe it is time to let Toronto and other cities levy such a tax. It would be a small price to pay for the many services everyone wants cities to provide.

David Goodings Burlington, Ont.

Log out

Re 'Zoom Fatigue’: Here’s Why Videoconferencing Leaves You Feeling Tired (Online, May 21): Dear 2020 virtual conference organizers, meeting planners, tourism promoters and other real-life impersonators: Stop using COVID-19 as an excuse to “reach out” or “recreate” events virtually.

I am fed up viewing reality second-hand online. Give me the real thing or cancel everything until it is possible. No more FaceTime, Zoom, streaming, podcasts, webinars or any other techno-spam. It is not “keeping in touch,” it is highlighting loss. It is not “reimagining an event,” it is substituting a lesser product.

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I have had enough squinting at screens. Go away until we can literally meet or not. Go have a nice, safe day on the other side of that screen!

L. D. Cross Ottawa

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