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Letters Jan. 26: Trucker vaccine mandate a slap in the face; employers pay for sick days

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Transport trucks sit waiting to cross into the U.S. at the border crossing in Lansdowne, Ont. LARS HAGBERG, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Politicians are breaking our vital supply chain

Countries where the Omicron variant is wreaking havoc are more cautious and less cavalier than England, where many COVID regulations and precautions will be reversed this week.

Governments and health authorities seek ways to return to some semblance of normalcy after almost two years of the pandemic, and just over a year since vaccines began production.

Prevalent variants Delta and Omicron recently engulfed the planet after originating in India and South Africa respectively, countries with relatively low vaccination rates. It stands to reason that more variants from who-knows-where could spread to countries where higher vaccination rates are hopefully protective against severe outcomes.

All governments try to bring some balance, but common sense seems to have slipped off the radar screen and been lost in the shuffle by the powers-that-be in Washington and Ottawa, who have just imposed a vaccine mandate for truckers driving between the United States and Canada.

When the pandemic was declared in March 2020, borders were closed to international travel, most communities were in lockdown, with many working from home to keep economies afloat while trying to teach their children, as schools closed, too.

Brave souls working in essential services such as hospitals, pharmacies, supermarkets and distribution centres depended on courageous truckers to keep them supplied; travelling highways eerily devoid of other traffic, with neither rest-stops nor restaurants open to get a meal.

They were heroes back then when nobody had a vaccination, but today the small percentage of unvaccinated truckers can no longer legally cross the border doing their jobs — suddenly moved from the “Hero” to the “Zero” column.

With the supply chain already under great strain, its strongest links are being brutally broken by uncaring, ungrateful and unthoughtful politicians.

Bernie Smith
Parksville

New sick day rules do not help employers

I recently calculated sick days on a payroll, which are calculated like statutory holidays using an average day.

Statutory holidays occur every year for everyone, and administrators organize themselves to calculate it all at once. Sick days are random and max out at five, so tracking and calculating takes more effort each pay period.

Since it takes time to calculate individual sick days and there’s no consistency to the timing, administrators work more time per pay period and bill the employers accordingly.

Employers currently pay for 10 statutory holidays per year and four per cent vacation. After a full year, vacation pay equates to about 10 working days. Add five sick days and that is 25 days off with pay annually.

Work weeks are five days on, two days off, so 25 days is five weeks off with pay (over one month out of 12). Another view: A full year is 260 working days. Having 25 days off with pay is nearly 10 per cent of all days, and now it costs more to calculate them.

A solution is to lower taxes, increasing take-home pay, so employees feel less pressure to work while sick or compensate them directly for staying home. Employees can claim for missed work under a Sick Pay program like EI.

Under the current system, the government does not pay out sick pay or track it while employees paid to stay home continue earning taxable income. Government continues generating revenues.

Sick days are good for employees and the government, not for employers.

Lyle Lacharity
Saanichton

Get more doctors or get more B.C. Liberals

I have turned 80 years of age — a time for reflection and angst.

Why? because I have no family doctor and I am angry. Am I alone in feeling neglected? I think not, there are so many British Columbians in the same position as myself, and we all have questions that the Health Minister may be better placed to, and should, answer.

What are the NDP doing to recruit, and retain, GPs? What are the NDP doing to increase the remuneration of existing and new general practitioners? How can/does the NDP plan to accelerate the recruitment of immigrant GPs?

These and other questions spring to mind, and without decisive steps by the NDP, the next general election runs the risk of a B.C. Liberal return to office.

David E. Smiley
Victoria

No sharing of rooms during the pandemic

I could hardly believe my eyes when I read that B.C. would allow COVID- positive and double-vaxxed patients to share hospital rooms.

With what we know about transmission of the Omicron variant of the COVID virus, it would be apparent to me that anyone, even if double-vaxxed, would become positive if housed in the same room as a COVID-positive individual, even if precautions are taken. Is this fair?

On top of having to be hospitalized, should a double-vaxxed individual be put in such a risky situation? They do not need to become COVID-positive, even if they are only mildly or moderately ill.

This is bound to exacerbate other medical conditions that necessitated their admission. If the COVID-positive individuals must be in the hospital, then they should be isolated from those who are not positive. What happened to the idea of housing COVID-positive patients in a hospital tent in the parking lot?

Our provincial health leaders have done an admirable job fighting this pandemic; however, it may be enlightening to ask Health Minister Adrian Dix, Dr. Bonnie Henry or any of the health authority CEOs if they would feel comfortable in such a situation if through no fault of their own they were admitted to the hospital.

As a final note, most people clogging ICUs are the unvaccinated, and this is an issue with most people in the province. The health of the majority is threatened by a minority who are hesitant or outright against vaccination.

Yes, we are all in this together, but some of us (the majority) are more into helping end this pandemic and protecting our loved ones than others.

Doug Hardy
Victoria

Stay out of Ukraine, it’s not in our interest

Canada is again following the great U.S. tradition: extra-territorial extension of perceived ideals. Is Ukraine really in the orbit of Canada’s interests?

True, there is a large number of us with Ukrainian roots — mostly from the area in Ukraine where there has long been a strong anti-Russian bias. That existed back in the 1930s where the populace preferred backing Germany, mainly because it was anti-Russian (or anti-Soviet in the day).

Canada arming Ukraine is a big mistake. We should remember, and maybe consult, Jean Chrétien, whose wily handling of U.S. aggression during the attack on Iraq was memorable, brave and correct.

It was in Canada’s best interests to stay out of that mess.

Robert Townsend
Saanich

Russian leader Putin must be stopped

Our news media remains chock-a-block full of COVID and health-care shortages news and opinion. Important and certainly concerning stuff.

However, this pales in comparison to the looming aggression and destabilization being undertaken by the Russian Federation and its dictatorial leader Vlad Putin on the world stage. He got Crimea without any opposition; now he wants the rest. Who’s next: Poland, the Balkans?

Taking lessons from the playbook of the German leader who plunged the world into the Second World War, Putin is using the same threat and intimidation tactics to assimilate once lost, now sovereign, states back into the Russian Federation.

Recall that the world sat idly by in the late 1930s, as Hitler marched thousands of occupying forces into the Ruhr, Sudetenland, and then Czechoslovakia.

Sadly, bad history repeats itself as is evident by the current situation in Eastern Europe. If the Russians are successful with this unprovoked incursion, then COVID and physician shortages with be the least of our worries.

John Stevenson
Victoria

Inconvenience? We’ve seen nothing yet

Protesting is, it seems, the only way to get the attention to what is the fundamental problem in our country — nobody is listening.

We all know, or hope we all know, that we can’t keep doing what were doing without consequences. People who protest are simply trying to say “smarten up.”

We can’t sustain this planet unless we do something. Protesting is an in-your-face, blatant cry for what the hell are we doing.

Those who protest should be commended for having the guts to ask what we are doing to our world. Inconvenience is nothing if we don’t take action; inconvenience is for people who don’t really care.

Protesting is in-your-face personal. Wake up, the way we’re going, inconvenience is just the beginning.

Rebecca Evans
Brentwood Bay

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