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Letters Oct. 4: A drawback of wearing masks; how can we preserve Canada's health care?

Masked pedestrians walk on Government Street near Fort Street. A letter-writer opines that mask-wearing deprives babies and toddlers of vital familiarity with non-verbal communication. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A serious downside to wearing masks

I’m no doctor and cannot comment on the upside of masking but, after decades in the lecturing circuit, I can comment further on the downside.

Our human race has many distinctions from the animal kingdom, one of which is non-verbal communication. Our faces can exhibit joy; pain; humour; boredom; interest; curiousity; fatigue; anger; puzzlement; intrigue; agreement; disagreement; you name it.

Put a mask on someone and most of that simply disappears. If I were still lecturing today and all my students were mandated to rock up in masks, I would probably quit in frustration not knowing whether I was really getting across to the group.

Whilst fully supporting the vaccine program and recognizing that masking for a few is really necessary, I believe the rest of us need a balanced choice going forward.

Has anyone considered that there are toddlers born in 2020 who have hardly ever seen a stranger smile during the first two years of their lives?

Nev Hircock

Government must act to preserve health care

Re: “Authorities must act to preserve health care,” editorial, Sept. 29.

I fully support the editorial and the follow-up letter from Dr. Jonathan Lomas. I urge the government of British Columbia to demonstrate the political courage and the progressive vision to create an effective primary health service for all residents.

Anything less is a threat to our Canadian public health system.

Ken Fyke

Some words of wisdom for family physicians

What exactly was meant by the term “health care”? Did this term refer to medicare, family-physician care, or patient access to required timely medical care, or all of the above?

Friends of medicare and many others have made it about preserving a “free” health-care system. Many letters of support for family physicians suggest better remuneration, and many letters refer to lack of access to medical care for whatever reason.

The editorial suggests the authorities should do something. I feel they are responsible for where we are at present and perhaps there needs to be a total outside review and revamping.

In my last 20 years of practice as a family physician, rarely a day went by that I didn’t feel that I had failed my patients as their primary care provider and advocate.

So to the family doctors still working out there as your patients’ advocate and care providers, I give you these quotes:

“A lot that weighs you down is not yours to carry” and “if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming you.”

Dr. Albert Wilke (ret’d)
Salt Spring Island

Give us real information on plans for health care

So, we are getting another 40 places in B.C. medical school and 88 resident places. Isn’t that just a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed?

Are we going to improve the qualification procedures for immigrant doctors and recruit more in the short term before these places provide trained doctors?

How many doctors — family, surgeons, and specialists — are going to retire in the next few years while these new students complete their studies (more than the number of places will generate, I’ll wager) and how many additional doctors are actually needed to provide proper medical services across the province?

Until the ministry comes clean and gives us real data upon which we can estimate the adequacy of its plans, we are unable to know whether its measure are adequate — but they don’t seem to meet that threshold.

Roger Love

Don’t worry about condo suite rentals

Fretting is misplaced over NDP leadership candidate David Eby’s intention to require condominium corporations to allow condominium suite and condo townhouse owners to rent their home to a tenant.

In Alberta, for example, provincial law has always guaranteed that condo property owners may be landlords. In 15 years as a condo-specialist real-estate agent there I never heard of a condominium building in crisis because of this.

What I did hear was that suite owners could earn revenue while they worked or had to relocate elsewhere, that condo construction was facilitated by pre-sales to investor buyers, and that tenants had more rental options.

Gerald Rotering
James Bay

Small-, medium-sized landlords might be forced out

David Eby’s plan to increase housing is a noble goal from a decent man, but there are a couple of flaws in it.

First, the Residential Tenancy Branch is unable to process disputes in a reasonable time. It is a critical agency and needs an overhaul badly.

Secondly, if rental rises are kept below inflation level, or frozen at levels from 15 years ago, landlords need a break from rising municipal taxes, at least, in order to keep on functioning. This should be part of the discussion with the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

If B.C. expects property owners to take a loss every month for the benefit of tenants, small and medium landlords will just give up and sell up, or switch to short-term rentals, which is already happening, and will seriously undermine the plan.

Lois Gardner

Add orange to our flag, and follow progress

On our morning walk on Friday, orange was everywhere — on the old, the young, the golfers, everywhere.

So we chatted about the colour and its significance to our country.

It really makes sense that we recall our past and all who made us a nation.

Why not make orange part of our daily lives and incorporate it into our flag?

Why not demand our governments at all levels in Canada present yearly, on this day, a clear audit of what has been accomplished to date for the betterment of the First Nations?

A national flag with a flash of orange and a yearly audit of what has been done will keep us actively on our toes to strive to make life better for an important segment of our population, one that has suffered so grievously.

Henri E. Wetselaar

Two lanes each way in the renewed Shelbourne

Re: “Appalled at the loss of trees along Shelbourne,” Oct. 1.

I am saddened by the removal of so many trees along Shelbourne Street as part of the road renewal.

However, amongst the many things that the sad removal of these trees will cause, it is not the case that “Shelbourne is to become a one-lane only for vehicles travelling in each direction, instantly creating major gridlock.” It will retain two lanes in each direction.

Susan Hamilton

Shocking destruction of Shelbourne trees

As a cyclist, I appreciate the addition of dedicated cycling lanes to Shelbourne Avenue.

I wish to register my dismay and sorrow, however, at the wholesale destruction of mature trees over a three-block stretch; hardly “as few as possible” as promised in the “Improvement Plan” for street upgrades.

Moreover, planting three replacements each is no substitute for the considerable effects those trees had for our community — both in terms of climate impact mitigation (one simple example is the cooling effect of the shade cast by those trees) and for the well-being of the people who live, walk and cycle along this corridor.

I am truly shocked that any council that professes to respect the environment could have sanctioned the destruction of this green canopy.

Jan Norman

A double blow against the environment

I am aghast at the wholesale destruction of mature trees to facilitate the Shelbourne Valley Land Use plan. Like many others I was unaware that accomplishment of the plan would involve the mass destruction of mature trees.

No doubt their loss will be compensated by plenty of highway green painting and platitudes about cycling and sustainability.

The loss of the trees is the first blow against environmental quality, the second is that it is intended that population density will increase in the Shelbourne corridor generating even more traffic, despite the wishful thinking by the municipality and cycle lobby about alternate forms of transport. The trees died in vain.

Frank Duerden

A quick lesson for Pierre Poilievre

Re: “Poilievre denounces Diagolon ­‘losers’ over threat of sexual assault against his wife,” Sept. 26.

I find it ironic that Pierre Poilievre now excoriates a leader of the Ottawa occupiers when just a short while ago he supported their efforts.

As a francophone, Poilievre may not be familiar with the expression “When you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas,” but en francais, “Qui se couche avec les chiens se reveille avec des puces.”

Ian Cameron
Brentwood Bay


• Email:

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd., Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

• Submissions should be no more than 250 words; subject to editing for length and clarity. Provide your contact information; it will not be published. Avoid sending your letter as an email attachment.

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