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Re Ottawa Funds Safety Gear For Meat Plant Workers (May 6): Would it be appropriate for government to provide funding for a butcher shop owned by a billionaire? How about a slaughterhouse owned by one of the world’s largest agricultural companies? As reported by The Globe and Mail (How Cargill Became The Site Of Canada’s Largest Single Outbreak Of COVID-19 – May 2), Cargill is “controlled by 100-plus family members, including 14 billionaires … one of the largest concentrations of wealth in any family-controlled business.”
Hopefully, the $77-million in federal funding will go only to food processors truly in need, whose owners cannot themselves afford personal protective equipment and other adaptations for a COVID-19 world.
Jeffrey Levitt Toronto
Like millions of other omnivores, I love a good steak dinner. The Globe and Mail’s coverage of conditions at Alberta’s Cargill and JBS meat-processing plants has turned my stomach by revealing the inner workings of these apparently ruthless multibilllion-dollar multinationals.
To Canadian Federation of Agriculture president Mary Robinson’s point, it is farmers who need our support. As for Cargill and JBS, I believe the unions have it right: Shut them down until they restore their social licences to operate.
Randall Mang Sidney, B.C.
Re It’s Time To Change The Message: Go Outside, But Stay Safe (May 4): Columnist André Picard asserts that “healthy seniors … are suffering terribly during the pandemic.” Are we now? Our pensions are paid; food is delivered; exercise is allowed, even encouraged; and family is in touch more often than ever. There really is very little to complain about on my end.
David Allen Edmonton
The home front
Re Tragedy At Pinecrest: How Flaws In The System Led To A Harrowing Outbreak At A Bobcaygeon Nursing Home (May 1): This devastating story reinforces what our research has been showing for years: Long-term care in Canada is in desperate need of modernization.
The system is failing residents and those who care for them. The reasons are multiple and complex; the root cause, though, is neglect and lack of reform. I hope The Globe and Mail’s investigation spurs transformative change.
Governments should set policy informed by data, with input from all relevant voices. Most importantly, our system should be centred around those who live and work in these homes – both now and in the future.
Any changes should be sustainable and ensure no Canadian ever again fears living in a nursing home. As a global leader in health, this tragedy should never have happened in Canada. Those individuals built us. We owe them. We can do better.
Carole Estabrooks CM, PhD, RN, FCAHS; scientific director of Translating Research in Elder Care; Canada Research Chair, University of Alberta; Edmonton
Re Nursing-home Staffing Shortages Leave Families Feeling Traumatized (May 4): My parents reside at Meighen Manor and both are positive for COVID-19, but our experience has been very different.
Just one example: For my mom’s 90th birthday late last month, she was brought out to a balcony so we could sing Happy Birthday to her. We sent the overwhelmed staff cupcakes and cookies decorated with the words “hero,” “family” and “thank you.”
Caring for the elderly is not fun. Patients with dementia will often cry out repetitively for help, the bathroom or a nurse, even if they have recently been attended. If no one is at a nursing station, it’s likely because they are with a resident. These dedicated caregivers are doing the best they can and it’s better than I could do. We are beyond grateful for their care.
While my heart goes out to families having negative experiences, I believe there are always two sides to a story. But where we come together is in our devout wish for a vaccine and a better way to take care of our seniors.
Jennifer Martin-Kepes Toronto
Gimme the news
Re Are Emergency Rooms Safe Places To Be Right Now? (May 4): We couldn’t agree more: A troubling consequence of this pandemic may be the reluctance of many patients to seek needed care beyond COVID-19.
The continuing and emerging health needs of patients should not be avoided during this crisis. Indeed, the negative effects that can be anticipated as a result include missed diagnoses and chronic diseases that may worsen without care.
Family doctors’ offices and emergency departments are taking appropriate precautions to keep patients safe. Many patients are meeting with their doctors virtually. When in-person care is warranted, doctors are making necessary arrangements.
Ontario’s family doctors wish to reiterate this important reminder: Whether for a health care matter that pops up unexpectedly, regular vaccinations or a medical emergency, people should look after their health and seek the care they need.
Jennifer Young President, Ontario College of Family Physicians; Toronto
Back to school?
Re Universities Face Funding Challenges Amid Threat Of Lost Revenue From Declining Enrolment (May 4): I have one son in university and one graduating from high school. Before this crisis, my youngest wanted to take a gap year to travel, work and maybe take more courses. At this point, he may have some company among his friends. He has missed graduation, prom and a chunk of his final year. He does not want to miss university residence, frosh week and in-class chemistry labs.
My oldest will tolerate only one more university semester online – the experience of online learning is inferior to being back in class. But I’m not sure what the solution will be.
Erika McDonald London, Ont.
Re Quebec Boards Reveal New Normal In Schools (May 5): If teachers are responsible for the well-being of students in schools and provinces legislate maximum class sizes, then, outside Quebec, how are governments going to implement physical distancing in classrooms?
There could theoretically be a need for twice as many qualified teachers as there are now. Where will they be found?
David Macfarlane Fredericton
Re Neighbourhood Watch (Letters, May 6): A letter writer is referring to me – “old guys in expensive sports cars.” But all cars, especially expensive sports cars, should be driven or face horrendous repair bills.
I take my wife’s beauty once a week up and down one of Toronto’s highways. No traffic, a good run, a chance to enjoy the car and help our petroleum industry. But I do agree that some city streets should be opened up for pedestrians.
Phil Palter Toronto
Us “old guys in expensive sports cars?” Relax. We’re only having a midlife crisis. At least we hope we are.
Farley Helfant Toronto
Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: email@example.com