Mail bag: July 23, 2020

More misinformation

Dear Editor:

RE: Mask ‘discrimination’, July 16.

I am dismayed that you published this letter without editorial comment.

The letter states that there is a “large body of evidence which indicates the detriments of wearing a face covering”, and that “It is a proven fact that when face coverings are worn, oxygen levels drop well below what is required by the OHSA (Occupational Health and Safety Act).”

Both of these statements are false. A cursory examination of sources that deal in actual truth and facts shows that one viral video on Facebook has provided the “evidence” that has been refuted by multiple credible sources.

Masks do not reduce oxygen levels. Masks save lives by reducing the spread of the virus. We need to support each other by social distancing if possible and wearing masks when we can’t be socially distant.  Lives depend on it, particularly those of people who are elderly or sick.

The letter accuses people like me of being fear-filled and uninformed.  I prefer to consider myself responsible and considerate, which is what health care experts and our government are advocating.

There is enough misinformation already circulating, and you should not be adding to it. An editor’s note after a letter of this type saying “The statements in this letter have been debunked by health experts” would go a long way towards helping everyone.

Responsible journalism requires you to do your part as well.

Steve Schafer,

*Editor’s note: The “Mask discrimination” letter that appeared in last week’s Advertiser was published in error. The edited version, which appears on our website, does not include the false statements noted in the above letter. The Advertiser regrets the error.


‘Harmful information’

Dear Editor:

RE: Mask ‘discrimination’, July 16.

I’m not sure where Sandra Owen gets her information from but its serves no one any good to put out a statement saying “It is a proven fact that when face coverings are worn, oxygen levels drop well below what is required by the OHSA (Occupational Health and Safety Act) and by oxygen depletion warning meters.”

It is absolutely not a proven fact. It is not a fact at all. Properly worn masks like the N95 do not reduce blood oxygen levels in the body, and also do not increase C02 levels either. Where does she think the oxygen and CO2 go? Absorbed / trapped by the mask?

If masks are dangerous to wear, does she think surgeons shouldn’t wear them while operating on a patient? In only a couple of minutes, I have been able to find multiple sources where doctors and scientists have demonstrated that blood oxygen levels do not decrease and CO2 does not increase even over extended periods of wear.

One doctor even put on six masks simultaneously just to show how ridiculous the idea is.

Putting out harmful information like this is ignorance masquerading as knowledge and can only hurt the people who are unfortunate enough to believe it.

Chris Hornsby,


‘Fake news’

Dear Editor:

RE: Mask ‘discrimination’, July 16.

I have a lot of respect for your paper and as such wonder why you allowed the uninformed nonsense in the letter about masks posted by Sandra Owen.

Study after study has shown that there is no drop in oxygen levels caused by wearing a mask. Medical professionals wear them for many hours at a time because they work; if there was an oxygen issue that wouldn’t happen.

I understand that people have a right to their own opinions, but I don’t think that you are obligated to print that sort of “fake news” when it exacerbates a bad situation.

Clive Lewis,


‘The science is real’

Dear Editor:

RE: Mask ‘discrimination’, July 16.

My response to this letter, in which the writer claims that oxygen levels drop when you wear face coverings, can be summed up in one word: bollocks!

She references the OHSA claiming it’s a proven fact that oxygen levels drop below OHSA requirements, when in fact OHSA recommends the use of face coverings and does not state anything regarding masks and oxygen levels. There was a Facebook post making that claim that has been fact checked and determined to be false.

Perhaps Ms. Owen should look at the official website of the organization and read their regulations before spreading misinformation? I would also add that the editor of the paper bears some responsibility here, too, by enabling this misinformation spreading by not even checking or adding a note about the OHSA site and its content.

Owen might also want to check out a video of a doctor hooked up to an oxygen monitor as he puts on six surgical masks; the monitoring showed no decrease in his oxygen levels. Or she could check out a recent interview CBC did with a man diagnosed with cystic fibrosis which has severely limited his lung capacity, who nevertheless wears a cloth mask when he ventures out to do his shopping because it’s the right thing to do to protect himself and his community.

If someone with severe scarring on his lungs and suffering from “oxygen depletion” every minute of every day can cope with wearing a mask, I think the rest of us will “survive” wearing a mask for a limited time without collapsing or permanent damage.

If neither of those examples convinces you that face masks are safe to wear, how about some common sense? Surgeons and nurses can wear surgical mask for hours in the operating room. If oxygen deprivation was an issue, they would be fainting and dropping to the floor during surgery.

We are not fear-filled, uninformed people; you are. We wear masks because the science is real, not fake, and facts are intended to inform, not to cause fear. We wear masks because in a democracy “the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few, or the one” (thanks to Spock for a quote so relevant to these times).

You have the right to endanger yourself but not others, but before you do, please inform yourself with all the facts from all the sources, and let logic not fear help you decide.

Helen Firko,


Bogus source?

Dear Editor:

RE: Mask ‘discrimination’, July 16.

I would appreciate learning the scientific source of the claim, “It is a proven fact that when face coverings are worn, oxygen levels drop well below what is required by the OSHA and by oxygen depletion warning meters.”

Not sure how the “oxygen depletion warning meters” require anything, but anyway. What is the source of this “proven fact”?

Also curious why the newspaper article includes the above statement while the online version excludes this paragraph.

Jim Baxter,


Eye health

Dear Editor:

Optometrists are the backbone of Ontario’s vision care and eye health system. But, for more than 30 years, governments have failed to invest in eye care.

As a result, OHIP now only covers half the cost of an eye exam. Optometrists pay the rest out of their own pocket; this situation is unfair and unsustainable.

Today, with optometry practices beginning the process of gradually re-opening, many optometrists are facing a crisis. To comply with physical distancing directives from the government and the College of Optometrists of Ontario, optometrists can only see half the number of patients they did before COVID-19. This will wipe out nearly two million comprehensive eye exams over the next 12 months.

With statistics showing that one in three Ontarians will have some form of vision-threatening eye disease by the age of 65, finding a sustainable solution is ever more pressing. The Ontario government needs to open its eyes to a crisis that’s about to become visible for all to see.

Help us save eye care in Ontario. Go to and tell the Ontario government to reform OHIP for a more sustainable eye care system. Please write to the Minister of Health and support continued  access to eye care in your community. My patients and I are relying on you.

Dr. Thadshika Parthipan,


Hiding it not the answer

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) flyer that stated, “Countries that currently have operating deep geological repositories for radioactive material include Finland, South Korea, Sweden and the United States. “

In fact, “no country in the world has a deep geological repository (DGR) for spent fuel in operation” (World Nuclear Waste Report 2019). From the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, “DGRs are being considered in countries around the world … The only operating DGR is in the U.S. at the WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant).”

According to the CNSC’s definition of a DGR, Finland, South Korea, and Sweden are not classified as DGRs because they are only 50 to 100 meters below ground. And like WIPP, these are all low and intermediate level facilities.

The NWMO now agrees that radiation did escape at WIPP but no radiation was detected off site or in town. WIPP is in the middle of a desert, on 10,000 acres with over 8,000 of those acres a safety buffer zone and the nearest town is 35km away. Here, Teeswater, with two elementary schools, is less than a concession away.

I am glad the industry is learning from these mistakes but I don’t want to find out what will be learned from the mistakes that could happen here. You can’t calculate and remove the risk of human error.

If all the barrier systems are at risk of failing there is no way to guarantee its safety for 100,000s of years. Undisturbed, unchanging rock? Drilling, blasting and boring is going to disturb this rock and things will begin to change. Water will get in.

From NWMO reports: “Ultimately, the repository will become fully saturated and the ground water will induce local corrosion.” Check out for independent reports and studies from around the world concerned with the rate of corrosion.

“When the containers eventually fail by corrosion as the result of ground water ingress into the repository, waste constituents can migrate out of the disposal facility and enter the biosphere” (NWMO report).

The International Atomic Energy Agency recently released its review of Canada’s nuclear industry. “The government should enhance the policy and strategy for radioactive waste management and the CNSC should consider better aligning its radiation protection requirements with IAEA safety standards.”

Canada’s waste strategy and radiation safety guidelines don’t meet international standards. Now isn’t the time to be pushing forward this toxic experiment under our farmland, next to our towns in the Great Lakes basin.

If the nuclear industry can protect the power plants and keep the cooling pools safe, why can’t they keep the nuclear waste safe using rolling stewardship?

This allows careful monitoring and the ability to repackage as new technology is developed.  Spent fuel after being removed from the reactor will still have to be stored above ground for a minimum of 30 to 40 years before placement in a DGR, according to the NWMO technical report. Hiding a problem underground is never the answer.

Michelle Stein,


Vitamin supplementation

Dear Editor:

RE: Public health preparing for second wave of COVID-19, July 16.

Dr. Nicola Mercer, medical officer of health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, is planning for the second wave of COVID-19, but she and her staff offer no plan.

Medical researchers worldwide are showing that vitamin D3 is essential in boosting the immune system. And yet, Dr. Mercer makes no mention of vitamin D3 in her plan, and has not mentioned this key vitamin in the past 18 weeks – not once.

The most vulnerable victims of COVID-19 are those with vitamin D3 levels below 75 nmol/L. Many seniors in nursing homes are below 20 nmol/L, and have nil immune response to fighting COVID-19.

World-renown medical nutritionists state that the optimum vitamin D3 level is 150 to 200 nmol/L. The majority of the public fail to maintain this optimum level, especially those who dwell inside.

In addition, researchers have found that the combination of vitamin D3 supplemented with vitamin C, zinc, and probiotics also boost the immune system.

Without a strong immune system, people have little defence in fighting COVID-19. Even herd immunity fails to protect people with low immune systems. Since it typically takes three months to reach the optimum level, now is the time to formulate a vitamin D3 program – not when the second wave of COVID-19 hits.

I believe that Dr. Mercer’s plan for the second wave should include vitamin D3 supplementation.

John Scott,

*Editor’s note: While some research has shown a correlation between high vitamin D levels and lower COVID-19 mortality rates,  there is little, if any, existing evidence of causation (showing vitamin D can help people infected with or exposed to the virus).


‘Natural’ solutions?

Dear Editor:

RE: Public health preparing for second wave of COVID-19, July 16.

Dr. Nicola Mercer, medical officer of health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph-Guelph Public Health, mentions that a vaccine is a year out.

Because of that, why are we not told about other options such as ways to strengthen our immune system? Does the body not have a natural ability to fight viruses such as the cold, flus and even COVID?

So does it not make sense that if people strengthen their immune system, there is a good chance that our bodies can actually fight COVID on their own, without a vaccine?

Is that why many people test positive but show no symptoms?  Their bodies fight it off, because that is what the body does, when supported.

We hear the same message from three levels of government, ad nauseum on how to protect ourselves. Why can’t some of that money be better spent telling people how they can protect themselves through natural means?

I will be very interested in hearing from Mercer as to why people can’t support and improve their immune systems as an approach to increasing their protection.

Probably the same flimsy excuse that we were given why she missed the boat on requiring masks three months earlier.

David Bonk,