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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks in response to the results of the United Conservative Party leadership review in Calgary on May 18, 2022.Dave Chidley/The Canadian Press

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Re Kenney To Step Down Despite Narrow Leadership Vote Win (May 19): I believe Jason Kenney, like Ontario’s Doug Ford and Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe, has been wasting Albertans’ time and preventing them from meeting the challenges of the coming energy revolution.

These men seem far more enamoured of what lies beneath the ground of their provinces than what rises above it. I find nothing “progressive” about Mr. Ford, who is up for re-election with his usual “aw shucks” populist appeal. But after Mr. Kenney’s bowing out, I trust that he is hearing footsteps behind.

Ron Charach Toronto

Equal opportunity

Re Is Canada Committed To Vaccine Equity? (May 17): Canada may think of itself as a generous country, but we have acquired a reputation as a vaccine hoarder in this pandemic. While Canada may think of the pandemic as largely finished, it is still rampaging in much of the global south, particularly in Africa.

Canada should be doing more to improve vaccine equity around the world. There should be more efficient and timely sharing of vaccines, and support of waivers for vaccine patents.

I find it disgraceful that we are not doing more on these fronts. No one should feel safe until everyone is safe.

Susan Carter Grandmothers Advocacy Network, Ottawa

Health consultation

Re How To Fix Health Care (Opinion, May 14): Robert Bell and his co-contributors offer some guidance in solving the complicated problem of delivering primary care to Canadians. However, the collective scope of experience they bring to the subject omits crucial actors, namely health economists, health system experts and – inexcusably, in my mind – primary care physicians.

If one wants to know how to improve our primary health care system, one should start by asking those of us who have been living this experience for a few decades. We can tell what’s broken and how to fix it.

Stephen Gawron MD, Dawson Road Family Medical Clinic; Guelph, Ont.

While the contributors offer interesting solutions to the ills of the present health care system, their analysis could benefit from one more critical lens: the role of patients and families in setting policy and crafting solutions.

Before the pandemic, patient and family partnerships with medical professionals and policy makers had become a new gold standard in effecting better health care outcomes, whether at hospital bedsides or around policy tables. COVID-19 changed all that; patients and families were pushed right out of the room.

That’s just one of many things that should change in a postpandemic health care reboot, along with a reassertion of the principle that when it comes to patients, “nothing about me without me” should be the guiding light.

Kathleen Finlay Founder and CEO, the Center for Patient Protection; Toronto

In practice

Re Around 15% Of Canadians Don’t Have A Family Doctor, But The Solution Isn’t Hiring More (Opinion, May 14): I agree that graduating more nurse practitioners is vital to solving the shortage of family doctors. Having not had a general practitioner in more than a decade, I am aware that NPs are greatly preferable to urgent care clinics alone.

But what about also working to speed up credentials for foreign-trained physicians? What about incentivizing those in our medical system to follow a GP track in places outside of major centres?

Ginny Ratsoy Kamloops, B.C.

In my experience, nurse practitioners see half the amount of patients doctors do, and most of those consultations end up reviewed by a doctor or, worse still, inappropriately sent to emergency.

Contributor Robert Bell is welcome to come to my family practice in downtown Toronto, where I work five days a week as a solo general practitioner. I also work on weekends to make sure patients have access to me, whether it’s e-mailing advice or filling a prescription.

The system does need fixing, but solutions should come from addressing why we have such low numbers of residents wanting to join family practice.

He is welcome to sit in any time.

Nidhi Pandey Toronto

The contributors, worthy members of the health care establishment all, seize upon nurse practitioners. They seem to skip over issues that consume the time of family doctors (and NPs), such as arrangements for care not covered by medicare, or militate against them seeing new patients.

There is also the unfortunate reality that salaried NPs do not come cheap.

David Allen London, Ont.

Every Canadian should have access to a primary care provider. It leads to a healthier society and saves the health care system money by preventing more costly interventions down the road. However, the enormous responsibility of primary health care cannot fall on physicians alone. Staffing shortages and the benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration for patients show that we should work together.

Not enough decision makers are aware of an untapped health care profession in Canada: physician assistants. Health care’s human-resource challenge is costing us money and exists from coast to coast. We applaud provincial governments for investing in much-needed training for more physicians and nurses. We should also train more PAs.

Currently Canada only graduates 69 PAs a year, despite getting thousands of applicants. That is not nearly enough. Primary care is suffering because of a lack of staff; training more PAs can alleviate this pressure.

Marina Banister Manager, advocacy and stakeholder relations – Western Canada, Canadian Association of Physician Assistants; Ottawa

I am a senior, 80-plus years old. All my life I have supported the principle of publicly funded health care. Now, in my old age, with my family doctor approaching retirement and no replacement in sight, I have the opportunity to join a private pay practice.

All the solutions offered to existing problems require a lot of time, in addition to large financial commitments. I don’t think I am going to live long enough to see medicare catch up to the needs of Canada’s seniors.

I feel that in order to maintain access to health care, I have no choice but to suspend my long-held principles and join a private practice.

Erwin Shulman Victoria

Before and after

Re Canadian Searches Grow For Far-right, White Supremacy Content (May 17): Unfortunately, the Indigenous peoples of North and South America and elsewhere in the world were entirely unaware of this “Great Replacement” theory. I’m sure they would have been less welcoming of their white arrivals.

Matthew Scholtz Tillsonburg, Ont.

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