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A registered nurse who has been redeployed from the operating room to the intensive care unit, looks out the window in the ICU at the Humber River Hospital in Toronto on April 13, 2021.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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Supporting our nurses

Re Medicare’s Crisis Needs Action, Now (Editorial, Aug. 6): Yes, cutting corners and hiring more foreign-trained or lower-qualified nurses would help to a degree, but who is going to train these nurses to work in Canadian hospitals? Already hospital training for Canadian nurses is being shortened to get them to the front lines more quickly. This results in poorer outcomes, frustrated doctors who have to deal with less-qualified nurses in critical areas such as the ICU and the OR. Turnover in many nursing positions is high because of poor pay and working conditions. Wouldn’t retention and re-engagement of nurses who have left the profession be a more effective approach in addition to allowing qualified foreign nurses to work in Canada? How long will it take for these new recruits to come to the realization that they are being undervalued and disrespected?

Marc Létourneau Toronto

There is much concern regarding the acute shortage of nurses in our hospitals. I am puzzled why no one has mentioned the positive step of returning nursing schools to hospitals. In the 1950s and 60s, when I trained, students were a valued part of the nursing team, while receiving on-site practical experience and important theory and knowledge. Student nurses felt very much a part of hospital life and were important contributors to patient care. Upon graduation, after three years of ward experience, a nurse was well prepared to deal with clinical problems on the wards.

Anne Swales Peterborough, Ont.

Half of the nursing students at the public postsecondary institution where I worked as a financial aid adviser were burdened with high student loan debt. Both the federal and provincial student loan programs offer loan forgiveness incentives to nursing graduates who work in under-served communities. I suggest our whole country be designated as under-served and that student loans be cancelled for nursing graduates who work in their field anywhere in Canada for five years.

Connie Gibbs Salt Spring Island, B.C.

For years I was one of those Canadians who sang the praises of our health care system. All of that changed in November, 2021, when I suffered a serious stroke.

During six weeks in intensive care I saw, firsthand, the terrible effects of staff shortages and working conditions on the nursing and personal care worker staff. There were nights when nurses who were supposed to be taking care of five patients had to take care of 10.

Eventually I was transferred to a world-class rehabilitation facility. I received excellent care there. However, due to funding constraints I was forced to leave well before I was ready. I was promised that community care would help take care of me when I arrived home and that I would be entitled to 21 hours of care per week.

The care provided in my community was woefully inadequate. Visits were missed with no notice, care workers arrived late and some who attended were untrained. Ultimately I gave up and paid for private care.

The Ontario Premier and Health Minister blame the problem on staffing shortages. Staffing shortages are, in fact, a symptom of chronic underfunding and poor working conditions. The government needs to tackle this problem relentlessly and with urgency.

Having been forced to use the system, I am now ashamed of it.

Daniel MacDonald Mississauga, Ont.

Re Temporary Shutdown Of Ottawa ER ‘Shocking’ CMA says (Aug. 8): The disaster in our health care system has been visible, predictable and growing for years. COVID-19 has brought the system to an inevitable failure. Ontario needs a major revamping of its health care system and of its approach to its health care employees. To date, there is no evidence that the Premier has a plan. Troubling.

David Esdaile MD (retired)

Virtual realities

Re Employees Want To Stay Home. Maybe They’re Right (Opinion, Aug. 6): Who says employees are more productive when working from home? I suspect that those who prefer not to bother with the rigorous demands of going to a workplace do. (If I decided that I preferred to work from home, I’d be out of a job – just like many other people.) And I can say from my own experience that not having access to in-person medical services is no substitute for seeing a doctor.

Matthew Larkin Ottawa

From Russia with no love

Re Chaos Is The Kremlin’s Ally In Its Standoff With The West (Aug. 6): Despite Vladimir Putin’s bravura and propaganda, no one is going to accept his cynical invitation to go live in Russia, his police state where his critics are imprisoned or worse. The traffic is all outward except for Ukrainian POWs and women and children in occupied areas forcibly relocated onto Russian territory contravening the Geneva Conventions of War. Meanwhile the exodus is a brain drain of young educated Russians, many in the tech industry, spreading out across free Europe and North America, voting with their feet against the unprovoked war on the peaceful Ukraine.

Laine Andrews Toronto

Water woes

Re Is Canada Ready To Help Quench The U.S.’s Freshwater Crisis? (Aug. 1): Those who say Canada has plenty of fresh water and should share it are, I believe, thinking of what we were taught about our natural resources half a century (or more) ago. We are now living in the age of global warming and climate change, and we must modify how we think of our precious resources. We could easily be in serious trouble should the drought conditions of the U.S. southwest creep north.

Rather we would do better to heed the words of R. Buckminster Fuller, who warned us that building desalination plants would be too expensive, that is until it became necessary. While he was thinking of water shortages caused by the pollution of waterways, I’m sure he would encourage such endeavours because of severe drought.

Paul W. Bognar Toronto

Re High And Dry (Letters to the Editor, Aug. 8): Letter-writer Joyce Rowlands states that it’s a no-brainer to share water with the parched U.S. Southwest because “Canada has freshwater in abundance.” This relative abundance is illusory, however, as the mainland United States receives 40 per cent more precipitation per unit of area than Canada. What Canada does have is a geological foundation that provides an abundance of relatively watertight surface storage basins (i.e. lakes), some of which have taken centuries to fill. Canada has an abundant store of fresh water, not an abundant supply. We are in no position to be supplying water to anyone – let alone a country that already receives a much greater supply than ourselves.

Mike Stainton Elie, Man.

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:

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