Letters Dec. 5: Mandatory masks; a tale of two Victorias; walk on the right?

Serious handicap, but a mask is required

Re: “At odds over whether ­doctor’s note needed to not wear mask,” Nov. 26.

I was delighted to read that the executive director of the Victoria Resource Disability Centre says that handicapped people should not have to wear a mask, nor should they need to explain why they won’t wear one.

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When I arrived at the gym which I adorn as a regular member, I spoke to one of the young women who make attending the gym a pleasure, being friendly, polite and helpful.

“If you see me on the treadmill and you notice that I’m not wearing a mask, don’t worry. I have a handicap.”

“Oh,” she said, concern on her face. “What is it?”

“I don’t think you should ask me that, but since you help make coming here a pleasure, I’ll tell you. I have a very short attention span, and I’m easily distracted, and as the only way I can get through 30 minutes on a treadmill is to read, it’s important that I be able to read.”

“Yes?” she said.

And, uh, where was I? Oh, yes. “I wear reading glasses,” I said, “And when I wear a mask the glasses fog up, so I can’t read. So I won’t be wearing a mask on the treadmill. But I will the rest of the time I’m here,” I added helpfully.

She gazed at me with wild surmise, like stout Cortez, silent upon…… uh, where was I? Oh, yes.

Then she said, “I’m afraid you’ll have to wear a mask, even on the treadmill.”

In vain did I protest. But I’m not done. I have sent an email to the executive director of the Victoria Resource Disability Centre, asking her to espouse my case. I’ll let you know the outcome.

Ian Cameron

Brentwood Bay

GVPL should offer internet access

The Greater Victoria Public Library needs to step up its game. We are nearly nine months into a pandemic and something as fundamental as access to the internet is still not being provided by our public library system.

Access to computers, as a means to apply for jobs, communicate with loved ones and stay informed amidst a pandemic, is paramount in times like these, especially for our impoverished and marginalized community members.

The pandemic has created unprecedented levels of unemploy­ment and underemployment. We are once again facing heightened restrictions, increasing the isolation felt by our community members.

While GVPL is failing to provide public computer access, these libraries have been offering it: ­Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, North Vancouver District, New Westminster, Surrey and Richmond, along with the Vancouver Island regional and Fraser Valley regional library systems.

These other libraries also provide something else GVPL does not: Evening hours.

Each of these systems offers at least one day a week where the library is open later into the ­evening. This ensures working ­people can access resources as well.

Lisa Takata

Victoria

Canned pink salmon raises questions

Thank you for producing the Islander section. I’m most aligned with the writing of Lawrie McFarlane and Geoff Johnson, and often wonder about the views of Trevor Hancock. However the Port Hardy mayor’s story on salmon farming triggered thoughts about an article that Hancock wrote a few weeks ago.

Ninety per cent of Canadian sea food is exported. Canadians are forced to buy offshore sea food, raised under what conditions?

I say “forced” because most canned salmon, frozen shrimp and other seafood products come from seafood farms in Thailand, Vietnam, India. So Canadians are eating off shore farmed seafood, while some here vocally complain about our highly regulated salmon farms.

I did not used to read labels on canned or packed seafood. Ever since I bought a can of Clover Leaf Pink Salmon, I have been reading labels and buying very little sea food.

The canned pink salmon was unlike any I have ever seen. I read the label, which said product of Vietnam, skinless, boneless. It was salmon, or was it? The label says wild.

So why is our Canadian government exporting our wild seafood, or highly regulated farmed salmon, while we have little choice but to buy off shore farmed seafood products?

We have a choice: Don’ t buy it.

Phil Harrison

Comox

Walking on the right is no longer safest

A cyclist has reiterated a common refrain that walking on the right on shared trails is the safest.

Well, I can attest that it was safe up to about five years ago but now things have changed drastically. With the proliferation of the use of bicycles for recreation and transportation, it is no long safe for pedestrians to walk on the right on shared trails.

These trails have essentially become highways and, as is the case with roads with no sidewalks, it is far safer for everybody – cyclists and pedestrians – for pedestrians to walk facing the oncoming traffic.

I’ve been hit three times by cyclists passing me when I was walking on the right.

Nowadays, on the odd occasion I walk on the shared trails, I walk on the left, facing the oncoming cyclists and stepping out of the way when I see them coming (and I can live with that abuse I receive from some!).

Times have changed and it’s time for a change in the rules.

Adrian Kershaw

Sidney

COVID-19 requires better comparisons

Most reports in the media provide COVID-19 data such as new cases or deaths as a total number.

For example, new case data for one day (Nov. 27 or 28) are, from highest to lowest, for the five largest provinces, Ontario 1,855, Alberta 1,733, Quebec 1,440, BC 911, and Manitoba 383.

Unfortunately this data is not helpful for comparison purposes because of very different population sizes; the population of Ontario is nearly three times that of B.C. There is a similar comparison problem with total new case numbers for health authorities within B.C. and for different countries.

To make the data useful for comparison, it is necessary to correct for population size by providing the rate per million or per 100,000 population.

It is difficult to be critical of the media because the governments of Canada and B.C. are deficient in providing readily available, continuously updated, data as a rate per unit of population.

The COVID-19 Dashboards of both governments fail to provide this information.

The Public Health Agency of Canada does provide occasional snap-shots of rates (graphical only) with the last update being Nov. 20. The best source I have found is CTV News online.

The Dec. 1 update used seven-day averages for new case numbers, superior to one-day because daily rates jump around, per million population. This update would include the one-day numbers provided above.

The results per million (in descending order) for Canadian provinces are Alberta 316, Manitoba 264, BC 156, Quebec 154, Ontario 114: quite a different ordering from the total new cases. (This data has been updated since.)

That Ontario has the lowest rate is certainly not reflected by the media coverage that province gets. The CTV News update also provides comparable data for U.S. states.

Interestingly, Alberta, with the highest rate in Canada, has a lower rate than 42 of the U.S. states (just below Washington state). Three U.S. states have rates of more than 1,000.

Some governments manage to provide user friendly, continuously updated, rates of new cases. For example, the U.K. government provides an interactive COVID map.

Click anywhere on the map and it gives the name of the location, its seven-day average new case rate per 100,000 population, and how this compares with the national average.

Colin Hoskins

Saanich

What Victoria are you living in?

I read two letters in the Times Colonist. The first was an uplifting account of walking through Beacon Hill Park. As a neighbour to the park myself, I agree with the writer completely!

My life has “not been ruined” with proximity to the park. It is a fantastic space, for walking, admiring the trees and nature. The tents that we all see do not frighten me. I feel only sadness for those forced to live this way.

The other letter was about a Victoria I don’t know. The writer claimed that “our parks system has been largely ruined, the downtown is dying and the whole city is a more unsafe and sinister place”

Wow. This is a description I don’t recognize. I work downtown and am there at 6:30 or 7 in the morning.

The city is hosing down and washing the streets. It is not dirty. I walk past all the amazing and vibrant restaurants and businesses. I talk to the street people and they talk to me. It is not sinister or unsafe.

These are our fellow human beings. That person was a little boy or girl once too. Listen to their stories and what they will tell you. When you really look and listen I believe your thoughts might change.

Anne Grimes

Victoria

Let’s pay doctors what they are worth

People on Vancouver Island are desperate for a family doctor. The recent swamping of a new health care facility on Yates Street doing an intake is just another example. People with complex medical needs requiring consistency, availability and timely responsiveness are being left trying to make appointments at walk-in clinics.

Over time, our health care has become more difficult to obtain rather than less. Having to have a doctor’s appointment for a routine prescription renewal is only one example.

Long waits for specialist consultations are the norm. And why is this the case? One reason is that our doctors do not receive financial reimbursement commensurate with the cost of their training, their responsibility level and the overhead costs of administering their practice.

Simply stated, they are overworked and underpaid. They are forced to work within a system that chisels away at their livelihood.

Nobody wants this situation. Yet we spend taxpayer money on many much more frivolous ventures while our doctors are working long hours and dealing with the pressures of too many demands and too little time.

We should pay them commensurately for the 10 years plus of education and training required for their profession, for the responsibility of having to identify life-threatening health situations in their patients and respond to them accordingly, for the pressures and the bureaucratic red tape. Maybe then we could attract more people into the profession and ease the stress on everyone.

Why would we pay professional athletes throwing a ball into a hoop more than the people who save our lives?

Launa Palset

Victoria

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