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Representatives from Canada's alcohol industry say mandatory warning labels are not needed on booze containers as suggested in guidance that greatly reduces the amount Canadians should be drinking due to health risks including seven types of cancer.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

In search of

Re Canada Donates Four Leopard 2 Battle Tanks To Ukraine (Jan. 27): By many accounts, the Ukrainian army has a remarkable proclivity in repairing and repurposing used battle equipment and a constant need for more hardware. We, on the other hand, apparently have a number of tanks awaiting parts and service.

Am I alone in seeing a solution staring me in the face?

Peter Richards North Vancouver

A new way?

Re We Have To Stop Pretending That Health Care Is Entirely Public (Jan. 26): So family physicians in Ontario operate a “for-profit” business paid for by the province. But the alternative would be a “for-profit” business paid for by patients.

As Humpty Dumpty said: “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more or less.”

Reiner Jaakson Oakville, Ont.

Re No, We Aren’t Headed Toward U.S.-Style Private Health Care” (Editorial, Jan. 27): Government-paid dental care results in dentists supplying public care and – wait for it – high-end cosmetic or implant treatments in the same office. What will happen?

Well, nothing, since this relationship has been going on at the provincial level for decades. It’s fine and everybody gets seen.

Why? There are more than enough dentists in Canada and they compete for patients.

Perhaps we should train a few more doctors.

Rob Graham Kingston

Private clinics will likely be more efficient. However, I fear improvements will be moderate.

We should go further and abandon the so-called sacred cows: one payer and universal access. Timely, out-of-province private options already exist for many surgeries in Canada, and Canadians have always been able to go out of country. So why not provide more options at home?

I would require private clinics to levy a hefty health tax. Call it a fee for jumping the queue. This tax would be used to fund public health care and thereby increase its capacity to deliver services.

Mark Roberts Calgary

Re Healthy Debate (Letters, Jan. 27): I worked as a primary-care physician for 40 years. I take great exception to a letter-writer’s definitions of “customer” and “patient.”

I always referred to those who I treated as my patients. This implied that I was committed to care for them.

I never referred a patient to the emergency room because I was too busy. Often I would miss lunch, fit patients in or stay late. When I was not available, I ensured there was alternative care. My patients were not “helpless” and had full access to their charts.

Today, many physicians have contracts which stipulate minimum numbers of “clients” and the hours to be worked. The commitment is to the contract, not the client, so acute illnesses are referred to overwhelmed ERs.

This lack of commitment to patients is a great contributor to the lack of primary care in Canada.

Gordon Young MD Pictou, N.S.

A letter-writer says his doctor should treat him as a customer, rather than a patient. This view flies in the face of fundamental changes that I have experienced in the doctor-patient relationship.

I, like many others, have often been invited and encouraged to make decisions with my doctors. I also expect them to be compassionate, something I never ask of anyone for whom I am a customer.

Within the realm of customers, there are big and little ones, important and less important ones, ones who can afford the top of the line or only the bottom of the barrel. Do we want this in health care?

Frank Gavin Toronto

I can’t help feeling that the difference between a “customer” and “patient” implies that health care providers respond to “wants” and not “needs.”

John Forster MD (retired) Ottawa

No use

Re Justin Trudeau Is (Rightly) Courting A Fight Over The Notwithstanding Clause (Editorial, Jan. 25): Are we at the same place with the notwithstanding clause as we are with alcohol?

Both their uses in moderation seemed appropriate, even helpful, but evidence is beginning to show how they can be addictive and cause real harm.

A label on the container, perhaps?

Lloyd Lovatt Edmonton

Too much

Re Canada’s Drastic New Alcohol Guidelines Demand A Closer Look (Jan. 23): Nearly half of the world’s population refrains from drinking alcohol, in countries where it is prohibited or controlled. Yet these citizens are thriving with social interactions that “give life meaning.” They also relax, celebrate, commiserate, rejoice and mourn together.

Alcohol consumption to “blow off steam” can often lead to social isolation due to addiction and violence. This can result in terrible consequences for individuals and families, the opposite of “positive social relationships.”

In Canada, Yukon tried to introduce detailed warning labels on liquor bottles in 2017. Lobbying from liquor companies forced the territory to abandon the idea. Elsewhere, a Nunavut task force has just released a final report toward controlling liquor sales, A New Approach: Halting the Harm.

Liquor has not been controlled as a legalized drug, capable of extreme harm to individuals and society. The government has given us “guidelines” and “advice,” not prohibition. It is not “reckless.”

N. Louise Shearing Kelowna, B.C.

Contributor Dan Malleck cautions that relative risk overstates the impact of alcohol on low-incidence illnesses. Take a low-probability event such as winning the lottery: A second ticket increases odds of winning by 100 per cent, but should not be cause to quit a day job.

The new alcohol guidelines do not factor “other potential contributors” to death and disability possibly correlated with drinking. Have alcohol researchers claimed deaths for their vice, where smoking, poor diet and bad judgment might have causal claims?

We might then conclude that grim outcomes are not necessarily due to alcohol alone, but reflect patterns of typical consumers of X drinks daily. Lifetime risk statistics for males – indicating the linkage of alcohol to deaths from injuries that are “unintentional” (the No. 3 killer), “intentional” (No. 5) and “road” (No. 13) – suggest the wisdom of warnings to avoid not only cars, but sharp objects and dodgy companions.

Chester Fedoruk Toronto

So a glass of wine a day may kill me, but hang on: the Doomsday Clock just moved up to 90 seconds before midnight. Scary, but which one will get me first?

I think I’ll channel my inner Canadian, relax and have a beer.

John Sheard Dysart et al, Ont.

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: