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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touches his forehead during a news conference outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, on May 29, 2020.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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Long-term assessment

Re Fix What Ails The Country’s Nursing Homes (Editorial, May 29): Any “fix” of nursing homes should also include hospital geriatric assessment units.

In 2014, my late sister was forced, at age 62, to enter such a unit at a large regional hospital in southern Alberta, in order to secure a permanent care-home placement. She suffered from frontotemporal dementia and several autoimmune disorders, including swallowing difficulties that necessitated careful attention to hydration and meal supervision.

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Over her five-week stay, she lost more than 20 pounds and had one bath. When I arrived to escort her by taxi to her placement, she had no clean clothing and was covered in her own excrement.

I don’t believe this is an issue of public versus private care; it is a human-rights issue, period.

Louise Lamb Winnipeg

Open calendar

Re A Simple Scheduling Fix Could Help Clear The Surgery Backlog (May 25): The public should be reminded that Ontario hospitals don’t ever provide elective care the whole year round. Of 52 weeks, we shut down for two weeks in the summer (unionized staff holidays), two at Christmas and another at March break. So, one week of a COVID-19 shutdown didn’t really impact on elective care at all.

There is obvious opportunity to do catch-up work – if our perpetually underfunded hospitals can be resourced to provide it, and if we can find staff to do the work while current employees access their well-deserved time off.

Drew Bednar MDCM, FRCSC, clinical professor of orthopedic surgery, McMaster University; Ancaster, Ont.

By the numbers

Re Making History (Opinion, May 9): At one time I studied the effects of the bubonic plague in a country area of England from 1348 onward. I looked through a set of records which contained lists of people’s obligations and payments to the lord of the manor on which they lived.

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By the end of 1348, the handwriting in the records had changed and numbers were dropping. The handwriting changed again a number of times during the first part of 1349, each time becoming less accomplished. Then, by mid-1349, came crude printing. Then shortly thereafter – nothing. Nothing for nearly five years. That image, of how quickly a practice in place for hundreds of years could just disappear, remains etched in my mind.

Of course, major change followed. Peasants revolted, religions changed. The medieval world gave way to the Renaissance and Reformation, a vital time in Western history. I suspect that without the plague, the story would have been very different. But the human cost – perhaps one-third of the whole population – was incalculable.

I hope we will learn from this pandemic, learn to respect nature, to protect each other – and to rescue our beautiful world.

Mary Lazier Corbett Picton, Ont.

Tech support

Re Delivering Groceries To Toronto’s Low-income Seniors (Report on Business, May 23): My husband is 90, and I have been in my 87th year for some months. We have not had a car for years and are now finding shopping very difficult.

The last time we passed by the grocery store in person, there was a lineup around the corner and down the block. We are willing to take a cab, but neither of us is in a position to stand for long.

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We are willing and able to pay for grocery delivery. But to our disappointment, ordering three pork roasts only qualifies as one item, let alone ordering six salmon steaks, toward a 20-item minimum. We are a household of two and cannot possibly manage such delivery requirements. If anyone out there has a solution, we’d be happy to hear it.

Alice Mawhinney Toronto

Innovation intent

Re Innovation Philanthropy Is A Uniquely Canadian Disease That Must Stop (Report on Business, May 25): How timely, yet frustrating, to be reminded again about successive federal and provincial governments’ inability to tighten up policies to capitalize on the benefits stemming from taxpayer-funded innovation and research. This file is right up there with corporate tax loopholes for favourite ways we seem to bow to corporate pressure, under the guise of generating a competitive investment climate.

Corrective action on both issues would lead to increased employment and tax revenue at precisely the time we are going to have to dig ourselves out of the coming national debt, unemployment and possible recession due to COVID-19. Could the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry respond? Something beyond “we’re looking into it” would be particularly reassuring to hard-working, taxpaying citizens in these troubled times.

Robin Higham Ottawa

Home in Winnipeg

Re Seeking Justice For Slaves Of The Islamic State (May 22): The tragedy of the Yazidi community at the hands of the Islamic State is deep rooted and ongoing. There is, however, a little-known Canadian chapter to this story.

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For the past five years, a multi-faith initiative has worked hard to privately sponsor Yazidi families to come to Winnipeg. Thus far, 11 families have made their way here and have begun to settle with good support. Over the past year, for example, the owner of a nursery made a plot of land available. Yazidis and other volunteers planted and harvested a significant crop of vegetables.

Next month, some Yazidi teens will graduate from high school. Some of them plan to take university studies in order to contribute to the life of this welcoming nation. I don’t know if we can comprehend just what an achievement this has been: Only a few years ago they lived in refugee tents, with no knowledge of English and little awareness of Canada.

This week, a number of us got in our cars and held a drive-by celebration for these remarkable young people, who have already enriched the life of Canada.

Ray Harris Winnipeg

Just a boy with a new haircut

Re A Haircut Is A Matter Of Trust (First Person, May 21): One of the “benefits” during the pandemic is arguably the savings on haircuts (regrettably at the cost of my barber’s income, of course). I have saved three trips so far.

The flip side is that my hair grows crazily long. So long that I have to cover it with an oversized baseball hat in video-conferencing with students. So long that it looks like a premature retirement is overdue. To be fair, my wife did try in vain to cut it. Unfortunately, she missed the target and almost cut my eye out.

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As the crisis drags on, Justin Trudeau’s hair also gets longer and longer. While the beard makes him look more mature, Mr. Trudeau’s long hair doesn’t improve his image in my mind, and he looks tired and less rigorous.

As warm weather kicks in and restrictions loosen, we should continue to follow distancing guidelines so that, most of all, lives can be saved – while I can lose my baseball hat and our Prime Minister can visit his barber.

Peter Zhang Toronto


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