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Attawapiskat's pain

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Indigenous suicide is not just a mental health problem. Yet the government's response unfortunately remains focused on increasing resources for mental health by sending in counsellors and an emergency response team, with little attention paid to longer-term solutions (Attawapiskat: Four Things To Help Understand The Suicide Crisis – April 12).

As a family doctor, I have had the chance to live and work in Attawapiskat and Moose Factory. Like many other doctors working there before me, it did not take long for me to realize that the true drivers of hopelessness go far beyond a faltering health-care system. Hopelessness is fuelled by the lack of economic and educational opportunities, deplorable housing conditions and food insecurity, among other miseries.

Canada needs a much broader, national indigenous suicide-prevention strategy that makes serious investments to improve living conditions for First Nations people, both on and off reserve.

Fareen Karachiwalla, MD, Toronto



Re Canada, World Leader In Opiate Addiction (editorial, April 11): To stop the prescription drug crisis, we must first go to the doctors who, in ignorance, prescribe opiates unnecessarily for acute and moderate pain, and then build a system that provides reasonable access for treatable pain conditions. I can't count how many patients with a fracture or spine pain I have treated who were prescribed Percocet or similar drugs when Tylenol or Advil supplemented with a splint for the fracture or rest for the back would've likely done just as well.

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Doctors' ignorance is real in the classical sense, meaning "to lack knowledge." My medical students today get just a two-week rotation in musculoskeletal care before qualifying for the MD. If they get chronic-pain training, they don't get it from orthopedics, yet most chronic pain is musculoskeletal.

While access for fracture care is pretty good, acute spine-care access in this country is a joke. Neurology or crippling-deformity care swamps the system, while those with back pain get bumpety bumped by the worse-off who can't wait. It's not unusual for fentanyl to be on-board, come operating time, when it wasn't at first.

Let's not waste dollars on more bureaucrats. Provide my students with a more appropriate curriculum, and open up some beds and OR time.

Drew A. Bednar, MD, clinical professor of orthopedic surgery, adult spine surgeon; McMaster University


A girl's worth

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Re Some Couples May Be Aborting Female Fetuses To Have Males (April 12): As an Indian-born woman with two daughters, I was appalled at the statistics on possible sex selection published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. I believe that my girls can do anything as well, if not better, than their male peers. However, patriarchy manifests itself in myriad ways around the globe. This is just another form. Canada should respond without promoting racial stereotypes or rolling back reproductive rights.

The federal government should increase funding for women's rights organizations around the world, which are at the forefront of challenging sexist stereotypes and discriminatory social norms.

Canada spent $5.6-million in 2014 supporting women's rights groups internationally (as reported to the OECD) – a drop in the bucket compared, for example, to Norway's $156-million. Globally, our daughters deserve better.

Rita Morbia, executive director, Inter Pares


Obscene inequality

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Re The World's Becoming More Equal, So Why Aren't We Happy? (April 9): The five CEOs of Canada's big banks are paid an average of slightly less than $10-million per year. Globally, 62 individuals have more wealth than 3.6 billion people on the planet.

We still have an obscene level of inequality, which has been growing for the past 35 years. The most recent trend is that inequality between nations may be somewhat decreased, but inequality within nations is increasing.

Research has shown that it is inequality per se, rather than poverty, which leads to consequences such as crime, violence, loss of social mobility, life expectancy, etc. Reducing inequality benefits the whole of society, even those with great wealth.

Don Kerr, Collingwood, Ont.


Leap ahead/back

Re NDP's Leap Is The Waffle Reborn (April 12): It is sad indeed that the NDP, which has a potential list of social, health and educational issues longer than anybody's arm it could champion to the benefit of all Canadians, chooses instead to take a flight of fancy in the direction of irrelevance.

Our environment is obviously important, but the economy cannot be torpedoed to achieve better practices. Change must come at an urgent, but measured pace.

Clearly, the Leap Manifesto was authored by people who have not recently had to face the same realities many Canadians struggle with to provide for their families.

I have news for the Leap group and its supporters: This is not democratic socialism. I understand the Green Party is looking for members.

Hal C. Hartmann, West Vancouver


The Globe's coverage and commentary on Tuesday of the NDP's Leap Manifesto bordered on wilful blindness. If one believes the conclusions of disinterested, distinguished climate scientists, we only have a few decades to wean ourselves almost completely from carbon-based fuels if our great-grandchildren are to avoid a literal hell on earth.

That may be an "inconvenient truth" that self-interested politicians and energy executives find hard to swallow, but there it is.

It is beyond ironic that on the same day your coverage of the Leap Manifesto appeared, The Globe also ran an obituary for Robert Ebeling, the engineer who warned of the inevitable Challenger space shuttle disaster (Obituaries, April 12). Once again, the self-interest of business and politics trumped science and the Challenger outcome was preordained.

Science and the laws of physics don't have a political bias. We ignore their warnings at our peril.

Kevin Bishop, Victoria


Just eight months ago, Tom Mulcair was the leader who steered the NDP to a lead in the polls. Now the party panics in the face of 11 per cent popularity.

Do its members wait for the sunshine of Justin Trudeau to dim – as it inevitably will – and then capitalize on the hangover effect with a leader who is sharp, on message and eloquent?

Nope. Instead, the convention is hijacked by the spectacle of Avi Lewis (and entourage) leaping about with his manifesto. You know, the one that undermines the only sitting NDP government in the country by insisting on a freeze on oil development. (And by the way, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and company have enacted pretty much the gold standard in environmental protection legislation in this nation.)

So the NDP's fallen from leading the polls to being leaderless and deeply divided. Avi Lewis has just become emblematic of the NDP's propensity to never lose an opportunity to lose an opportunity.

Joseph Macchiusi, Newmarket, Ont.

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