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In this March 16, 2020, file photo, Neal Browning receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.

Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press

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The essentials

Re Where Is The Government’s Vaccine Plan? (Editorial, Nov. 26): I have little sympathy for critics of the federal government’s vaccine plans.

Since the 1980s, governments of all political stripes have re-engineered Canada’s relationship with the globalizing pharmaceutical industry. Whether one agrees with the outcome, it is hard to imagine that “domestic production capacity for vaccines” was on the negotiation list.

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Paraphrasing Jiminy Cricket: We buttered our bread, now we’re sleeping in it.

Gord Meyer Toronto


Re Health Canada Close To Approving Coronavirus Vaccine Before Christmas But Rollout Plan Remains Uncertain (Nov. 27): While I am concerned that our governments appear unable to organize the distribution and provision of COVID-19 vaccines, I am actually quite happy if there is a delay.

I understand, from a number of medical friends, that there is concern regarding potential side effects of some vaccines as they involve a relatively new procedure.

I would much rather wait until all such matters are resolved, and I can be assured that the vaccine I shall have administered is safe.

Felice Spitzer Toronto


The premiers “need more clarity on the timing of vaccine distribution as well as the expected weekly allocations.” Perhaps they should hire logistics experts from Canadian Tire, Home Hardware, Loblaws etc. – companies that somehow manage to get their products from around the world to outlets across Canada.

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Election officials likewise ensure that Canadians know where and when to vote across the country on a single day. I want to know where and when I can get my jab in the arm!

Premiers should stop the political blustering.

JoAnn Breitman Toronto


Re Mayor Backs Small Businesses In Battle Over Retail Restrictions (Report on Business, Nov. 27): As the landlord of a small retail property, I was shocked to find that my local Canadian Tire has been operating at full tilt. I’m not speaking of the usual hardware setting of the store, but rather the seasonal Christmas space in the same plaza.

How is it possible that an 800-square-foot retail space is forbidden and deemed dangerous, but a space the size of a grocery store is allowed to flog essential Christmas decorations?

Dave Johnston Toronto

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Human after all

Re Auditor Slams Ontario’s Pandemic Response (Nov. 26): The Auditor-General’s role is to find fault, and there always will be in human systems. Unfortunately, the discourse has turned to finger pointing at those working tirelessly to fight COVID-19. As former bureaucrats, we say give public servants a break.

It takes momentous effort to co-ordinate activities and generate evidence at the best of times, let alone at the scale required to address a pandemic. We can only imagine how deflated some of those public servants must be right now, and it’s not how we should want them to show up for such critical work.

Angela Poirier and Jane Allt Authors, How Government Really Works: A field guide to bureaucracies in Canada; Halifax

Read up

Re Children Falling Behind In Reading Due To Shutdowns, Research Shows (Nov. 26): I am no scientist, but this anxiety about young people falling behind in reading mystifies me. Let me explain.

I was in Grade 1 when schools were shut down during the Second World War. By mid-September, we never went beyond the letter G.

However, my two older sisters took things into their own hands: They taught me to read. Each day, I was not allowed out of the house until I read a story out loud.

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Since then, I’ve attended school in two different languages, and the disruptions and changes in my education did not prevent me from attending university nor diminished my liking for reading. How many Eastern European refugees have had similar experiences?

Maria Roy Ottawa


The sad truth about the impact of COVID-19 on educational outcomes: Children who are struggling readers now will likely struggle with all their academic subjects when they return to school. And that skills gap – yes, even in math and science-related careers – will likely have lasting impact.

Reading well and reading widely matters, starting early and lasting a lifetime.

Mary Ladky Executive Director, the Children’s Book Bank; Toronto

More for mental health

Re Drug Plan (Letters, Nov. 25): A letter-writer should be commended for his statement that street drugs should be decriminalized. However, his opinion that pain, grief and anxiety can be prevented by teaching children to “deal with the vicissitudes of human existence” seems like magical thinking at best.

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Mental illness and addiction are serious health issues that should be addressed with greater access to and availability of mental health care for all. Those suffering require treatment, support, care and compassion – not shaming.

Christine Foy Thornbury, Ont.

1 in 3

Re Will Trans Mountain Be Our White Elephant? (Nov. 27): Columnist Gary Mason isn’t wrong about the future of fossil fuels and the impact to Alberta’s finances and economy. However, all of the province’s pipelines are under siege – Keystone XL and Line 5 are no sure thing.

If by some miracle, all three get built, we should think of the Trans Mountain pipeline as a peace offering from Canadian taxpayers to Albertans for all the years we pumped billions into federal coffers. If not, think of it as insurance that we’ll finally get a pipeline to somewhere.

Tim Ingram Calgary

Outnumbered

Re Ban It (Letters, Nov. 27): There’s a difference between Canada on one side and Australia, Britain, Japan and the Netherlands, which have stricter gun laws, on the other: They do not sit next to the United States, which has more guns than humans.

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Simon Hearn Vancouver

Capital idea

Re Quebec Fights To Give Riopelle’s Art A Proper Home (Nov. 26): As much as I applaud all efforts to promote the art and legacy of Jean-Paul Riopelle, it should be known that the wonderful National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec has a splendid Riopelle room that contains 20 or so of his finest works.

This is not to suggest that Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts should not do more to feature Mr. Riopelle’s art, but simply to say that, in Quebec City, Riopelle does have a home, which I would argue is the best single room in all the museums that I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.

Simon Rosenblum Toronto


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