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A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., April 10, 2021.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

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Take it back

Re Canadians Under 30 Told To Avoid J&J Shot (May 4): Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization has expertise in medical matters but apparently a lack of expertise in communication. All this after a campaign by governments to encourage people to take whatever vaccine is available.

I think the NACI should stick to the facts and not express contrary opinions. Its message can sow fear and doubt among a population already beset by uncertainty.

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David Sisam Toronto

Keep it moving

Re Long-term Care Is Caught In A Cycle Of Inaction (May 4): Chaotic and irrational only begin to describe the response I’ve seen to the long-term care fiasco.

Programs were cancelled and residents locked into rooms at such an alarming pace. The likely outcome was an order of mental distress beyond the capacity of staff to manage. Dizzying policy changes about who could go where, for how long and with whom were matched by disorganized communication with families. The deep ills of anxiety and depression quickly set in.

Only now do seniors emerge from a year and a half of imposed hibernation that could have been prevented with more innovative planning, creativity and flexible self-assessment. To think nothing will change, because of stodgy political inertia and the interests of private enterprise, creates my own personal nausea.

Solutions? Unlikely from within.

Gary Fleischmann Toronto


As an “ancient” geriatrician, I still remember the designation “nursing homes.” As these homes were stripped of nurses, they became long-term care facilities.

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I do not feel that improvement will come in this sector until nurses once again are present in proper numbers.

Barry Goldlist Toronto

Get it right?

Re Liberals Look To Tamp Down Criticism Over Vance Controversy (May 4): It is difficult for me to rationalize why Erin O’Toole is asking Justin Trudeau to dump Katie Telford in the Vance investigation instead of Harjit Sajjan.

Based on the current information, it is clear to me that the Defence Minister has failed in his duties and responsibilities as the top politician for his department. He is the right person that the Prime Minister should ask to resign, not someone working for him.

J.G. Gilmour Calgary

Cut it out

Re University Of Alberta Forges Close Research Ties With China (May 4): When the Kenney government cuts $170-million from the University of Alberta’s budget at the same time as capping tuition increases, it makes sense to me that the university would look to other sources of funding – such as research collaborations with China.

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Unless Canadians and Albertans are willing to pay to keep public institutions public, I have no doubt private money will only further compromise the mission of our universities.

Katherine Binhammer Professor, English and film studies, University of Alberta; Edmonton

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been jailed in China for more than 875 days. Tell me, does the University of Alberta have a course in ethics?

Elise Weagant Brockville, Ont.

Mail it in

Re Voting Restrictions In The U.S. May Be Bad, But Regulations In Canada Are Even Worse (May 1): Columnist John Ibbitson argues that Canada should “emulate the U.S. example and make voting by mail even easier” than it is now. While Canadian rules governing mail-in ballots were not designed to disenfranchise any group or favour any party, nor do they have any such effect, I believe there is still manifest potential for manipulation by political operatives.

In casting a ballot in person and in secret, voters are unquestionably free from coercion or untoward pressure at the key moment. Yes, the current rules tend to give a disproportionate voice to citizens who are prepared to take the trouble to go to polling stations. But is this a bad thing?

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Paul Edwards Calgary


A key Canadian requirement: Electors are entitled to three continuous hours during the work day in which to cast their ballots.

Art Gordon Mississauga


Erin O’Toole has mused about making voting mandatory. Choosing to vote or not vote is as democratic a choice as can be made.

Mandatory voting would be as undemocratic an act as can be done. Voting is a fundamental democratic freedom – for now, at least.

Greg Schmidt Calgary

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From the unbelievably long lineups of U.S. voters seen on the news, it would seem that a lack of polling stations is the greatest reason why Americans have developed many of the voting methods that columnist John Ibbitson calls for. While changes should be made to make voting easier, I don’t believe that will necessarily increase turnout.

If 36 days is not enough time to request a mail-in ballot, will 75 days truly make a difference? I doubt it, given general tendencies to put things off.

Richard Austin Toronto

Say it ain’t so

Re The American Way? (Letters, May 3): A letter-writer calls out the United States as a country where “personal well-being and wealth outweigh social considerations.” A stark contrast indeed to Canada with its splendid accommodation of the elderly and a populace that, as one, dutifully follows the most conservative of public health advice.

David Allen Edmonton

Pass it on

Re No Thanks (Letters, May 4): There have been a number of letters from seniors rejecting the government’s coming initiatives for retired persons as not necessary. Mostly, I have noted, these comments are written by men, who appear to be living well and perhaps with a partner still.

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I would remind these gentlemen that the average annual income for seniors is under $30,000. The majority of lower income Canadians have no access to workplace pensions and are unable to save sufficiently for retirement. Poverty in retirement disproportionately affects single seniors, and the majority of them are women.

For those retired men (and women) who find themselves awash in unwanted government money, I suggest they go out and find a senior, perhaps a woman retiree living on her own, and ask her if she would like a share of the “handouts.” It shouldn’t take long.

Christine Holdham Toronto


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