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Pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb., Dec. 18, 2020.

Chris Machian/The Associated Press

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Calls for help

Re COVID-19 Pandemic Taking Greater Mental-health Toll On Women, Single Parents And Racialized People: Poll (Jan. 14): I am a community psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in Ontario. I received 27 calls in December from people dealing with depression and anxiety and wanting psychotherapy covered by OHIP. I have been in practice 38 years and, even before the pandemic, it has been hard to find medical psychotherapists.

Many people have lost jobs or are on limited incomes and cannot afford to see a non-medical psychotherapist; young psychiatrists are not choosing to got into long-term psychotherapy. There is much talk of mental-health issues, especially during the pandemic, but very limited mental-health care after patients are assessed at a hospital or mental-health centre.

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I strongly recommend psychotherapy be covered as an essential service. It should not be a privilege or luxury.

Anne Shepherd MD, FRCP; Toronto


Re Biden Axes Keystone XL Hours After Becoming President (Jan. 21): Unfortunate, but not unexpected. The best way to replace the potential 800,000 barrels a day lost would be to build a pipeline to New Brunswick, replacing imported oil in the region with Alberta oil.

This would be an all-Canadian effort. If we can’t get it approved by federal and provincial governments, then we can’t blame Joe Biden and the United States for not approving Keystone XL.

T.S. Ramsay Guelph, Ont.

Re Carbon-capture Backers Promote ‘The Sexiest Tax Credit In The Land’ (Jan. 16): Despite carbon capture, storage and utilization’s need for additional operating energy, it can make sense for industries such as cement, chemicals, steel, fertilizers and marine transport, where clean options are not ready. However, subsidizing CCUS for demands such as power generation and heating should be scrutinized. The cost of renewables is dropping, and adding complex and costly CCUS to fossil-fuel use and production will likely not improve its business case.

CCUS should not be an excuse to delay the adoption of other greenhouse-gas reduction solutions. After 30 years of weak climate targets and failure to lower emissions, Canada should no longer delay.

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Bob Landell Victoria

Re Pretending Energy Jobs Will Bounce Back Is Only Making Things Worse (Jan. 18): Oil and gas is Canada’s largest export. We would be foolish to get rid of it in such a short period of time. We should embrace carbon capture and sequestration to reduce carbon emissions.

As well, we may be able to use a significant portion of bitumen production as raw material for carbon fibre. And a recent German study finds that blue hydrogen with carbon capture has advantages over green hydrogen.

I believe that the usage of oil and gas will change considerably, and I can imagine a scenario where oil and gas production continues for many decades.

Jim Hornett Calgary

Re Canada Underestimating Methane Emissions From Orphan Wells, Study Says (Report On Business, Jan. 21): Despite estimates of the contribution of methane from abandoned oil and gas wells continuing to grow, federal and provincial governments seem unable to put together a clean-up program.

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Such a program would appear to have no vested interests to impede the solution, while multiple years of employment would be provided for oil workers in Alberta. As well, government deficit funding would seem to be readily and plentifully available.

The lack of action to address an easily realized reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is difficult to fathom. Perhaps the project team has been diverted to COVID-19 vaccination procurement and rollout.

Phil Surtees London, Ont.

Bring down the house

Re It’s Time For Construction – And Demolition – To Take The Environment Into Account (Jan. 21): While this isn’t a new topic for many within the heritage building community, we should be well past the time to have demolition control on many existing buildings to preserve their embodied energy and carbon. (Ignoring heritage elements, though often a heritage streetscape is composed of more mundane elements than landmarks.)

Full conservation is ideal; reuse is better; grinding up masonry for dumping into a lake or making a ski hill is less good to bad. But Toronto hasn’t even begun to measure the carbon in our building materials despite being nudged through the years. We seem not that serious about climate change if we don’t include how much true environmental impact there is from building, green or otherwise.

Hamish Wilson Toronto

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What sort of civilization builds monumental buildings, only to tear them down 30 years later? While I’m no fan of the Rogers Centre, the huge volume of natural resources that went into building it should make tearing it down within one generation unthinkable.

Rogers Centre is larger than the Roman Colosseum, which was used for 400 years. Let’s do as the Romans did.

Gareth Lind Guelph, Ont.

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation plays a role in demolition and reconstruction on properties in Ontario.

Valuing properties on potential use, rather than actual use, can encourage, if not force, property owners to either rebuild or sell to someone who will – all due to unaffordable property tax bills that can result from potential-use assessment.

John Burrows Toronto

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Shovel it

Re Residents Disappointed With City’s Path-clearing Efforts (Jan. 19): So far in January, less than 10 centimetres of snow have fallen in Toronto. Surely this year, with indoor recreation facilities closed and very little snow so far, the city is failing its residents if it doesn’t prioritize making public spaces accessible and safe the entire year.

Leonard Naymark Toronto

I also was concerned about a couple of icy roads in Toronto’s High Park.

When I investigated, I was told that these roads led to the dog park, and dog owners requested they not be salted because the salt bothers the dogs. I asked why sand couldn’t be used instead, and why salt was being used at all in an environmentally sensitive area. I am awaiting a response.

With respect to unpaved trails, I am afraid the only answer is spiked shoes or crampons, the latter of which I have found extremely helpful.

Arthur Vanek Toronto

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I have the solution for Toronto’s lack of path-clearing: Do it yourself.

At 59, I cleared an ice-covered path in my neighbourhood. It was great exercise (my gym is closed) and lots of people I meet on my dog walks have been thanking me.

Community in action, rather than community inaction!

Bruce Reid Toronto


Re Are Auto Insurance Companies Still Offering Pandemic Deferrals And Discounts? (Online, Jan. 3): Private-sector insurers have been stingy about reducing premiums, whereas the Manitoba Public Insurance program has returned about $250 in premiums to its customers.

Reduced driving and fewer collisions mean huge savings for insurance underwriters. A comparable decline in emergency-room visits for accident victims can also be expected – one of the few blessings of COVID-19. In that case, savings for underwriters go ballistic because broken bodies give rise to million-dollar claims.

Perhaps Doug Ford should consider legislating a sizable premium refund across the board in Ontario. It is difficult to think of a more popular political move than forcing insurers to refund premiums. It is also difficult to think of a time and situation when it would be more justified.

Dan Mersich Owen Sound, Ont.

Moment in time

I’ve been sorting through a forgotten pile of papers and found my unread Jan. 17, 2020, issue of The Globe and Mail. This should be good, I thought: life on the cusp of everything changing, courtesy of COVID-19.

I read for hints of the pandemic stirring in the East and found nothing. However, the First Person essay with the red virus illustrations and the handwashing practices argued for by the essay-writer Jason Garramone (Better Safe Than Sorry – Jan. 17) was prescient indeed! While he might have struck many of us as a germaphobe then, we’ve learned to think along his precautionary lines now.

Thanks for a good read one year later!

Susan Murray Toronto

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