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Letters to the Editor Feb. 29: MDs plead for First Nations public-health action. Plus other letters to the editor

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MDs plead for action

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As physicians in Sioux Lookout Region First Nations communities, we offer our strong support to Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority in their declaration of a public health emergency (First Nations Leaders Declare Public-Health Emergency Due To Lack Of Resources – Feb. 25).

In our decades of experience working with the affected communities, we have seen these issues first-hand. Nursing stations often run out of basic medications and supplies for weeks on end, despite repeated requests. Crucial equipment such as defibrillators or X-ray machines are often outdated or broken, and the nursing station infrastructure is woefully inadequate.

Access to allied health care (physiotherapy, trauma counselling, services for special needs children, etc.) is minimal to non-existent. We work with many dedicated nurses and community health staff, but the number of positions per community has remained static for decades, despite significant population growth and increasing burden of disease, leading to inadequate staffing, high turnover, and little time to provide preventive care.

We call on Health Canada to take immediate action under the leadership of local communities, Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, and Nishnawbe Aski Nation to address these deficiencies, and to work to improve social determinants of health such as clean drinking water, housing, and food security.

Dr. Lisa Letkemann
Dr. Marilyn R. Koval
Dr. Jacqueline Anand
Dr. Natalie Bocking
Dr. Megan Bollinger
Dr. Fred Carlson
Dr. Claudette Chase
Dr. Eric Conta
Dr. Lianne Gerber Finn
Dr. David Folk
Dr. Lindsay Hancock
Dr. Theresa Heese
Dr. Michael Kirlew
Dr. Alex Moreno
Dr. Rebekah Neckoway
Dr. Michael Ouellette
Dr. Aaron Rothstein
Dr. Devon Tilbrook
Dr. Larry Willms
Dr. Catherine Wong


Medal in waste

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Re COC Spent $2.9-Million On Boardroom For Its New Headquarters (Feb. 26): Our Olympic athletes complain of inadequate funding, however, the Canadian Olympic Committee spends $2.9-million on a boardroom, $160,000 on a cocktail reception, $400,000 on a luncheon, oh, and $600,000 on "other" spending.

Could COC could maybe steer some of those dollars in the general direction of the athletes they supposedly represent? IOC founder Pierre de Coubertin must be rotating in his grave (we presume at a suitably Olympic rate).

Chris Phillips, Ancaster, Ont.


I nominate the Canadian Olympic Committee for the gold medal in pretending to be a national sports organization while squandering millions on ego and flash.

Marty Cutler, Toronto

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Canada's big deficit

Preston Manning sounds alarm bells on potential huge deficits, citing a figure of almost $90-billion in a few years. Such figures are grossly misleading (New Government, Same Old Litany – Feb. 26).

The consensus among virtually all sensible economists now is to run deficits, and in fact large deficits, with ScotiaBank recently stating deficits around $40-billion are in order. I've said that $50-billion is probably a better figure. These deficits are needed. If Mr. Manning disagrees, he should stay in the private sector and far from any government position.

The figures he cites are in absolute levels. This is at best disingenuous – and a sophomoric mistake. Had he provided deficits relative to GDP, there would have been less drama, and readers would have realized that Canada is still one of the most fiscally responsible countries in the G20.

Louis-Philippe Rochon, associate professor of economics, Laurentian University; founding co-editor, Review of Keynesian Economics

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Preston Manning quotes King Solomon at least five times: There is nothing new under the sun. How did he reference Pierre Trudeau and miss (resist?): There is nothing new under the son.

Murray Citron, Ottawa


Die? It's complicated

Re Parliamentary Report Calls For Broad Right-To-Die Access (Feb. 26): I have three or four patients a year who ask me to help them die. They invariably feel very depressed and hopeless, suffer grievously and believe their illness is irremediable.

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Usually, it is much more complicated than merely the presence of mental illness. My patients are likely to be suffering just as grievously from impoverishment and terrible housing. Living in a dank basement room, waiting for eight years to get into subsidized housing, can greatly aggravate depression. Under new legislation, would such a person meet the criteria for doctor-assisted suicide?

Should they be given a lethal dose of drugs or safe, affordable housing?

Ty Turner, psychiatrist, Toronto


While the report is a step in the right direction, if humans not wanting to live but unable to die by suicide must request the help of a doctor, and in some cases appeal to the legal system, there is little cause for right-to-die opponents to fret. It's hard enough to find a doctor to help keep one alive, let alone find one to help one die. And if the legal system is involved, drawing out the process to infinity, as only our legal system can do, applicants will succumb to "natural" causes before a legal remedy can be rendered.

What's better when you've really had enough: A self-aware (if possible) person, bidding a painless, loving farewell to friends and family (if any), recalling the happy moments of one's life (if any), and then falling into unconsciousness – or the rather hit-or-miss status quo?

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Ken Kingsbury, Ottawa


The Supreme Court did not say that doctors in Canada have to assist their patients to die. It decriminalizes the actions of those who, out of compassion for the terminally ill, consent to do so. The Catholic-run health-care authority, Providence, in B.C. is not a government agency, it offers services to the public that are partially funded by the province (B.C. Catholic Health Agency's Order Exposes Fault Lines – Feb. 26).

Providence is not the only source of care, so those who would seek services it does not provide on moral grounds, or any other, have other choices. Those who want to force Providence to offer assistance in dying in the guise of protecting civil liberties have a different agenda, which is not one that makes the individual more free to exercise his or her basic human rights. Their message is that anyone who receives public funds has to put their personal moral and ethical principles in their back pocket.

Raphael Girard, Ottawa


Terror, citizenship

Re Liberals Table Bill To Restore Citizenship (Feb. 26): "A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian" proclaim our PM and Immigration Minister. There is a reason why convicted terrorists should not lose their citizenship if they hold only Canadian citizenship – they would become stateless.

That is not the case for dual citizens who have broken the oath of loyalty they affirmed when they became a Canadian, a betrayal every bit as serious as lying during the process of application.

Joe O'Brien, Halifax


I assume the eagerness for votes, any votes, is behind the repugnant scheme to return Canadian citizenship to Zakaria Amara – who planned to bomb downtown Toronto – and his ilk. I think I'll surrender my citizenship, move to the U.S. and vote Trump.

Selby Martin, Toronto

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