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OxyContin pills arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt., in 2013.

Toby Talbot/The Associated Press

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Re Gone (Feb. 13): I know too well there are real people behind the numbers of Canada’s other public-health crisis, the toxic drug epidemic – my brother is one of the smiling faces on the front page of The Globe and Mail.

I also know that, despite mounting losses, there remains reluctance to implement measures public-health experts say are needed to turn the corner on this crisis: decriminalizing drugs and enabling access to a safe, regulated supply. Justin Trudeau has dismissed decriminalization on the basis that it’s “not a silver bullet.” Theresa Tam has said the same about COVID-19 vaccines, but the government has not written off their importance to our pandemic response. After all, complex problems require multipronged solutions.

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Let’s end this failed war on drugs and start urgently addressing this public-health emergency in an evidence-based manner. We’re losing more every day.

Tanya Nayler Ottawa

I, too, lost a son to an overdose, four days after being released from a provincial jail. Nearly 60 per cent of males who die from overdose have been involved in the corrections system. There are so many factors leading to addiction, often complex and misunderstood. In many cases these people have lost the lottery of life. They do not deserve the stigma they are coated with.

I also have a second son struggling with addiction. The roadblocks to help are giant walls. No one should be forced to the streets for unsafe drugs. As Benjamin Perrin says in his book Overdose: “Either we value the lives of others and care for them, or we think we are better than they are and ignore their suffering.”

Our loved ones deserve access to safe drugs and long-term treatment and supports.

Penny Douglass Kamloops, B.C.

My heart broke again as I saw a photo of our beautiful niece, one of 100 souls lost to this epidemic. Why are governments so unwilling to act? The numbers are staggering; the grief is devastating families across the country.

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The pain of these parents is more than anyone should have to endure, yet this story plays out over and over and over again. Decriminalizing small amounts is a small step, but it is nothing without a safe supply in place and adequate treatment that goes far beyond a prohibitively expensive 10-day detox, with no support once people leave. Enough.

Annabel Kershaw Vancouver

I would like to give a shoutout to the hardworking community mental-health workers. They walked alongside many of these souls who were so much more than their addictions.

They meet people in coffee shops, parks, libraries, jails and courtrooms with the hopes of reaching that part that wants to fight for a life beyond the chaos of substance use. They talk to families when they’re scared, and accompany people on the terrifyingly windy road of recovery.

And they get to know them all pretty well. They keep in their hearts a little space for each soul lost.

Jennifer Silk Toronto

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MAID in Canada

Re Canadians With Disabilities Deserve More Dignity – In Death And Life (Opinion, Feb. 13): I am the father of a child with a developmental disability and the grandfather of a child with profound disabilities. I heartily agree with contributor Andray Domise that better funding and services are required to enhance the quality of life of persons with disabilities.

Mr. Domise also argues that government policies should inhibit or prevent individuals from making decisions about their own lives. But these persons, with the help of two physicians and following strict legal procedures, would be making informed decisions to terminate their lives. I am not at all in favour of restricting the ability of any adult to make decisions concerning their own bodies.

Ronald Bayne MD, FRCPC; Victoria

For years, medics have used a merciful shot of morphine to help us transition when death was imminent. Medical assistance in dying has changed all of that.

Encoding things into law brings its own miseries at times. It’s too late now to back out of MAID despite the efforts of those who held up the stop signs. I find its expansion to those with disabilities inexcusable, dismissive of a huge group of wonderful Canadians.

MAID will likely become the inhumane, cold-hearted legacy of this government.

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Judy Pollard Smith Hamilton

Step by step

Re Seven Steps To Save The Planet (Opinion, Feb. 13): The aviation industry has always been committed to reduce carbon emissions.

I believe that liquid hydrogen represents a sustainable way forward, not just for the aviation industry, but for many other industries around the world. (In the case of aviation, the use of liquid hydrogen would be particularly relevant for aircraft operating regional routes.)

As Canadians, we are only too well aware of the importance of the oil and gas industry to our country. By using our valuable oil and gas reserves to generate electricity needed to produce liquid hydrogen, Canada could become a world leader in the production and supply of a sustainable fuel having minimal carbon footprint.

Investing in environmental technology is a win-win situation for Canada economically, and in terms of our contribution toward addressing the critical and urgent need to reverse climate change.

Pierre Jeanniot OC, CQ; Director-General Emeritus, International Air Transport Association; Montreal

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I found this Bill Gates excerpt exasperating. As a climate scientist, such articles on climate by non-experts are troubling.

Mr. Gates had hardly a single reference to science, mostly finance and markets, which will not solve the crisis. Like others, he seems fooled by government plans of “net-zero emissions by 2050.” That does not mean “zero emissions,” but emissions held to a 2005 baseline; in other words, no change in emissions to 2050.

I believe none of Mr. Gates’s suggestions will help without significant emission reductions first. We risk leaving our grandchildren with an apocalyptic world after 2050. I suggest simplified science – and less big names in scientific op-eds – might prove useful, and even help solve the climate crisis.

Geoff Strong PhD; Cowichan Bay, B.C.

Sunday fun day

Re Without Bookstores, Reading Takes On A New Form (Arts & Pursuits, Feb. 13): I, too, have not trodden the creaky hardwood floors of my local secondhand bookstore for over a year. I wonder about its future; will it go the way of its neighbour, Ottawa’s beloved ByTowne Cinema? This venerable theatre closed its doors for good after the Ontario lockdown on Dec. 26.

I am dearly missing Sunday afternoons savouring the guilty pleasure of a matinée while laundry and cleaning wait at home, followed by a good, long browse between the overflowing stacks of the bookstore.

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Jane Wood Ottawa

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