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Plastics are seen being gathered for recycling at a depot in North Vancouver on June, 10, 2019.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Hard time

Re Thunder Bay: ‘This Jail Is Just A Death Trap’ (Oct. 9): This gut-wrenching exposé of Ontario’s failure to respect the basic human rights of prisoners leads me to conclude that Ottawa should debate adding a new Criminal Code offence: “Government officials, possessing evidence of systemic racism in jails and omitting to take timely action to protect the human rights of prisoners, are guilty of an offence.” More careful crafting of the words is needed, but one gets the idea.

Maybe if government officials were charged and spent some time in jail, things might change. Oh, wait: At least they could afford bail and lawyers to defend themselves.

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Nancy Kleer Toronto

Mind the funds

Re Report Urges Mental-health Funding Hikes (Oct. 9): Children’s mental health was in crisis before COVID-19; now it is off the charts. For many, the pandemic is a clinically traumatic experience that will likely change the trajectory of their life.

There has been an increase in suicidal ideation and family violence. There is a surge in demand for treatment that cannot be met, and an increase in the number of complicated cases. Kids are in rough shape and many parents are not able to cope, creating debilitating stress for families.

Funding of children’s mental-health services and increasing access has never been more vital. Children and families deserve better.

Seana Massey Director of development, George Hull Centre for Children and Families; Toronto


Long before COVID-19, it was clear that the lack of funding for mental health and addiction services was limiting access across the country.

A 1963 report from the Canadian Mental Health Association noted that the stigma associated with mental illness resulted in inferior care and gaps in service. In 2012, the Mental Health Commission of Canada called for mental health spending to increase to 9 per cent of health spending, in addition to a 2-per-cent increase in social spending. This has not occurred.

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The current federal Health Accord increases funding for mental health by $500-million annually – well short of the $3.1-billion required. In per capita terms, this would amount to $85.54 per Canadian (we currently spend $7,068 per capita on health care).

We should get on with rightsizing our mental health investment in the health of Canadians.

Steve Lurie CM, executive director, Canadian Mental Health Association Toronto

Smoke and mirrors

Re Ottawa’s Plastics Ban Includes Straws, Cutlery, Grocery Bags (Oct. 8): Ottawa’s intended plastics ban brings to mind the Wizard in the Land of Oz: a lot of bells and whistles, but look behind the curtain and there’s a whole lot of nothing.

I believe this ban will accomplish virtually nothing. The items in question are but a tiny fraction of the tonnes of plastic packaging pouring into recycling plants every day. There are also more than 10 different types of plastic, and most of it cannot be co-mingled and processed into a marketable product.

The solution should lie not downstream in recycling plants, but upstream with chemical, oil and consumer-product corporations. Only when these companies hear the pitter-patter of government regulators at their doors will they turn to solving this problem once and for all.

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In the meantime, we continue with the Wizard of Oz’s bells and whistles.

Michael Scott Toronto

Body electric

Re Ottawa’s Quixotic Jolt To Our Electric-battery Industry Is Riskier Than It’s Letting On (Oct. 7): “Will consumers really take to electric cars in significantly greater numbers than their current minuscule market share?” The answer should be a resounding yes, for many reasons.

The cost of the battery (which makes up one-third of the cost of an electric vehicle today) is falling rapidly. Between 2022 and 2024, it is expected to reach $100 per kilowatt-hour, the magic sweet spot. At that point, EVs will cost the same as the equivalent gas vehicle; charging infrastructure will be built out; the range on a charge will be about 400 kilometres, so one can comfortably go to the cottage and back at virtually zero cost.

As well, California and Britain, among others, plan to ban gasoline vehicles by 2035. So, yes: I believe EVs will move far beyond their minuscule share of today by the next decade.

Maria Kelleher P.Eng, Toronto

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Electric vehicle sales are capped by limited supply. Foreign EV production is currently diverted to those U.S. states mandating zero-emission vehicle sales. Many dealerships can’t keep EVs on the lot, while rows and rows of internal combustion cars become dusty liabilities.

I believe the government has picked the right manufacturing sector to back, but columnist Andrew Coyne does raise the apt question of just who should be supported. Rather than back foreign-owned incumbents, government would do better to recognize fresh innovation from Canadian EV companies and support their scaling up.

If government wants made-in-Canada EVs to be successful, it should legislate that same mandate of zero-emission vehicles which prevents Canadians from buying more electric cars today.

John Stonier President, Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association


Re The Benefits And Differences Of Batteries Versus Hydrogen (Oct. 8): I find discussions of vehicle fuels continue to play down problems with hydrogen. It requires extra energy and often pollution to manufacture, transport, store and dispense.

Hydrogen for personal vehicles would duplicate the wasteful fossil-fuel model. Charging an electric vehicle, most often at home, means set it and forget it: Plug it in and go do something else. Payment is in the next electricity bill. There are no costly filling stations to build and maintain.

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Hydrogen may have a future for fleets or larger vehicles. For personal use, it makes little sense to me.

Paul Rapoport Ancaster, Ont.

Roll up

Re Lights, Camera, Awkward: How A Friend’s Drive-in Mishap Finally Got Me To Read My Car’s Manual (Oct. 8): In the late 1970s, a friend of mine went with his girlfriend to a Winnipeg drive-in. Her dad lent them his new Cadillac.

It was fall. After a while, the windows started to fog up, as sometimes happens at drive-ins. He started the engine in order to turn on the defroster, not realizing the lights would come on automatically in the dark. After much horn-honking, they watched the movie through a blurred windshield (at least he says they did).

That this issue is news again shows the resurgence of drive-ins. It is a testimony to the convictions of the remaining owners who had faith there was still a future for them.

Dave Sanderson Carleton Place, Ont.

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