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Police officers look on during demonstration calling for justice for the death of George Floyd and all victims of police brutality in Montreal on June 7, 2020.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

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Disarm the police? Not so fast

Re Fewer Guns. More Cameras. Better Police (June 10): “Adopting the British policing model, with most officers not carrying firearms, makes sense.” No. It might make sense for an island. It makes less sense for Canada, which borders on a country that has an estimated 393 million guns in circulation.

Our society is a relatively happy place, until those awful moments when it suddenly isn’t. It is on those mercifully rare occasions that we want our police to be able to defend the innocent and – have we forgotten the fallen so easily? – themselves.

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By all means, make police accountable. But don’t make them sacrificial.

David Sinclair Montreal

The idea that Canada should adopt a British policing model is an admirable one, but it neglects this country’s reality. Canada has a high gun-population ratio; we also border the United States, where buying a gun is easier than getting a driver’s licence.

The system isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give our people the appropriate tools for their harrowing job.

Caleb Cranna Edmonton

Sorry state of Parliament

Re Trudeau Puts Parliament On Life Support (June 11): Thanks for the excellent editorial on the sorry state of our Parliament. You rightly ask who is running our country.

There was hope that with a minority government, there could be more accountability. But with the Liberals able to reel in weak-kneed support from their choice of acquiescing parties, that hope seems to disappear.

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Let’s hope September will bring change and individual MPs will find their voices.

Martin Pick Cavan, Ont.

How is it that Justin Trudeau can, in good conscience, keep elected representatives from crucial-to-the-times debate and questioning by keeping Parliament closed to Sept. 21, and, worse, even consider extending that pause longer?

The world over, national, provincial and municipal governments have found pathways to discuss how programs and funding are managed either by physically-distanced in-person debate or using video-conferencing models. The Prime Minister needs to set a brave example, step away from the morning monologue at his doorstep, walk over to the House of Parliament and invite MPs to join him.

Tabitha Toy Vancouver

Dental and drug coverage, too

Re It’s Time To Make Medicare Truly Universal (June 6): The Canadian Psychological Association couldn’t agree more that medicare in Canada has significant gaps. Pharmacare and dental care are only two of them. Medicare in Canada covers health services delivered in public institutions (i.e. hospitals) and primarily by physicians. However, not all health care happens in hospitals and not all licensed health professionals are physicians.

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If Canadians need the services of psychologists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists (among others), who work outside of hospitals, they need to pay out of pocket or rely on private health insurance typically funded through their employer.

The mental health care gap, in particular, is a large one. There are two main interventions for mental health problems – medication (and we don’t have pharmacare) and treatments such as psychotherapy, which are more often provided by psychologists rather than physicians.

Canada needs to deliver the mental health care people need, when and where they need it, from the health providers licensed and trained to deliver it.

It doesn’t now – and our health and well-being depends on it doing so in the future. Mental health must be part of medicare’s unfinished business.

Karen Cohen CEO of Canadian Psychological Association, Ottawa

Now is exactly the time Canada needs to move forward with bringing medications and dental care to the universal health care system. Your editorial highlighted very well how many Canadians struggle to pay for dental care and medications, and with significant job losses during the pandemic this will only get worse.

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And dental disease remains very common. In Canada during 2010-12, the most common reason for one- to five-year-old children to receive general anesthetic was to treat dental decay. Furthermore, a recent report in The Lancet demonstrated that dental decay remains the most common non-communicable disease in the world.

We need to put dental care into universal health care, and the need after the pandemic will be stronger than ever.

Paul Allison Faculty of dentistry, McGill University, Montreal

While true universal medicare is certainly overdue in Canada, it might also be time to cease referring to our public health care system as “insurance.” The private, supplemental sector of the health care available in Canada is based on the for-profit insurance model, but private insurers are not part of our public coverage. It is the involvement of insurance companies in the U.S. system that makes health care out of reach for so many Americans.

Don McLellan Vancouver

Microaggressive racism

Re We Need More Than Empty Talk (June 6): The “offhanded remark” or microaggression that Rita Trichur writes about are not limited to the business world. A number of years ago, there was a requirement to be a Canadian citizen to be elected to the University of Toronto’s governing council. A white academic leader at the time remarked to me after my election, “I didn’t know you were a Canadian citizen.” Microaggressive behaviour is pervasive and subtly lets those of us who look different know that we don’t belong.

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Ernest Lam Toronto

Checking the hiring boxes

Re Checking All The Boxes (June 10): Sadness and shame. Those are the strong feelings I experienced when reading Shirley Phillips’s First Person article. In 1987, I was hired as the first female and first francophone to serve as regional director with an Ontario ministry. I know I got the job because of the breadth of my relevant experience, my sound knowledge of the region and my reputation for someone who got things done.

However, I believe I got the interview because my application checked all the boxes of the day for management positions: female, check; francophone, check; aboriginal, check (I’d stated I was a native of Northern Ontario and an enthusiastic human resources clerk must have thought, wrongly, that I had aboriginal ancestry).

I received congratulations from many sources, usually women in senior positions glad to welcome me into their rank. I used to joke that I’d forgotten to mention that I was blind in one eye, truly. It wasn’t funny then, and it’s even less so now.

I’m ashamed that the government that I served well and with pride has changed so little in 33 years.

Diane Labelle-Davey Port Credit, Ont.

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