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Paid, per vote
Re Liberals Block Opposition Bid To Toughen Campaign Finance Rules (Aug. 31): To make up for new restrictions on fundraising, Ontario's Liberal government plans to increase its proposed "per-vote" subsidy to parties.
These subsidies mean the party that won the last election will have the most money to fight the next one – a big advantage which will benefit the Liberals as long as they are in power, but will hamstring future Liberal leaders when inevitably the party returns to the opposition benches.
If you vote for an independent candidate, your vote won't fund anyone in the next election. People who vote strategically may end up funding a party they don't necessarily want to fund.
Using the results of an election that took place four years ago means voters who died or moved out of province will influence funding, while voters who were underage or lived elsewhere aren't represented in the formula.
What happens if a new party forms, an older one splits up, or a party has lost its public support?
The solution is to set up a system whereby each registered voter can decide each year where they want their money to go – a party or even to an independent who plans to run in the next election. Voters could fill in a form online or send in a card to Elections Ontario with their choice.
Brian Graff, Toronto
Re Trudeau In China (Aug. 31): From the mid-1800s on, Chinese workers voyaged to North America to find "gold mountain." Today, Western leaders fly to China for the same purpose.
Rick Book, Toronto
Re Report Finds More Than 50,000 People In Ontario Alone Are On Methadone Maintenance Treatment (Addiction – Folio, Aug. 30): While abstinence is ideal, unfortunately abstinence treatment for opioid addiction has a high relapse rate with significant risk of overdose.
Opiate Agonist Treatment using methadone and buprenorphine is the most effective long-term option for opiate addiction. Before starting therapy, patients must fulfill criteria for opioid dependence; provincial colleges audit physicians to ensure compliance with guidelines.
Depression is not a side effect of methadone and the mortality rate for people receiving methadone maintenance is a small fraction of the rate for people abusing illicit opioids. The number of methadone patients in Ontario compared to the small number of patients in the United States points largely to a significant, persistent undertreatment of opioid addiction with methadone in the United States. It does not imply overprescribing in Ontario.
Before appropriate treatment funding, methadone was largely unavailable outside large urban centres, and even there, long waiting lists were common.
Suboxone is an option for some clients, although diversion to the black market and widespread abuse has been documented. Unlike methadone, it is injectable, so its abuse, although less likely to be lethal, is not without significant harm.
For the vast majority of patients who take methadone, it greatly increases their quality of life and reduces harms to themselves and their communities.
To say it perpetuates or exacerbates the problem is false.
Robert Cooper, Chair, OMA Section for Addiction Medicine; Distinguished Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine
The rapid proliferation of methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) in Ontario is alarming. More than 55,000 Ontarians are receiving MMT – up from 3,000 in 1996, and four times the per capita rate in the United States.
Just as aggressive marketing by pharmaceutical companies drove prescription opioid misuse, entrepreneurial forces have played their role in this aspect of the crisis. Financial incentives from the province have resulted in an explosion of for-profit MMT-only clinics. These market-driven policies have eclipsed a more evidence-based approach to research, treatment and care.
MMT is a valuable therapeutic option for some. But in order to tackle both opioid epidemics, Ontario must ensure that the opioid substitution system is fuelled by the needs of people, not reimbursement opportunities for providers.
Let's not let profit-seeking dictate how people are treated in our public health system.
Doris Grinspun, CEO, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
Canadian prime time
Re How Much Can Anyone Care About Canadian Content? (Life & Arts, Aug. 31): If I could add anything to John Doyle's eloquent column about Canadian TV content rules, I'd say there is now a homegrown resurgence of all things uniquely Canadian.
A timely sprouting of a thriving country, and a new generation of Olympics-, Gord Downie- and Justin Trudeau-loving flag wavers.
My message to Mr. and Ms. Missed-Opportunity Bureaucrat: It's prime time for Canadian prime time. Build it and they will come.
Peter Keleghan, Toronto
Naming rites: 1916
John Allemang's interesting and persuasive article (Enduring Spirit: The Rejuvenation Of Berlin (Ontario) – Focus, Aug. 27) is right on the mark: The circumstances which precipitated the name change to Kitchener no longer exist, and with Canada's emphasis on multiculturalism, reverting to Berlin is timely indeed.
My wife and I spent a number of years in the Amish country of southeastern Pennsylvania. When we moved to Kitchener, we were pleasantly surprised to find this same culture was prevalent.
With the city's many residents who celebrate their Amish or Germanic heritage, it is to be hoped the surge for a name change continues to gain momentum and that Berlin, Ont., becomes a reality in the near future.
Klement Hambourg, Calgary
John Allemang's story about the 1916 decision to rename Berlin, Ont., is well told from the perspective of the residents of German extraction. Mr. Allemang might ask himself if the horror and grief brought about by the deaths of thousands of their family and friends might have clouded the judgment of "the small-minded patriots" who voted for the change. The losses suffered in the First World War would challenge anyone to remain open, tolerant and welcoming, however ignoble this sentiment might seem 100 years on.
Ross Peebles, Toronto
Re What The U-Turn On Sex-Ed Says About Brown (Aug. 31): The best line I've heard describing Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown's U-turn on sex ed (and the Ontario PC party in general) came from a commentator on an AM morning show: "Why is it whenever the Ontario PCs get to third base they feel compelled to steal second?" Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory just seems to be in their DNA.
Daniel J. Christie, Port Hope, Ont.