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School lunches. Again.

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With many children heading back to class today, it's also back to making school lunches.

Emma Waverman wrote recently that "there is no way around the drudgery of making school lunch" (The Stress-Free Lunch Box: Preparation Can Be As Quick As Pick Four Ingredients And Go – Life & Arts, Aug. 24). But there is a way: I maintain that if men in Ontario were usually responsible for packing these pesky packages, we would have had a universal school lunch program ages ago.

The inefficiency of hundreds of parents scrambling each day to provide their children's daytime nutritional needs is colossal. It also reinforces income inequalities, as kids from poorly functioning homes get nutritionally shortchanged where they most need a nutritional boost – at school.

We shouldn't need a Jamie Oliver to tell us this. Canadian parents: Every time you curse the inexorability of lunch prep, remember there is a better way. It is possible to tackle this chore collectively and help children in need, too. There is a way around the drudgery if we just develop the collective will to take it.

Now, I have to go grocery shopping.

Beatrice van Dijk, Toronto

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A vision of America

Donald Trump's vision of America is a farce that panders to his base of predominantly older males who have seen social and economic progress pass them by and who have nobody to blame but themselves.

It's about time our giant neighbour made it much easier for the estimated 11-million-plus people there illegally to gain citizenship. Immigrants and their adult children already contribute billions of dollars to the federal, state and municipal economies each year.

Those contributions would be far greater if illegal immigrants had a pathway to legal status, which would draw them into the tax system.

Many of the critics opposed to immigration advocate mass deportation or a mandatory employment-verification system, which they argue would make it impossible for illegal immigrants to get jobs and thereby convince them to go home.

Not only are these sure-to-fail options not cost-effective, they could very well be a violation of civil liberties.

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Emile Therien, Ottawa

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So-called undocumented immigrants to the United States do not typically become drains upon the public purse since, after all, they have no legal status. Thus, they have little choice but to enter the work force and earn an income to survive. They must be industrious, entrepreneurial, motivated and somewhat ingenious to survive in a less than friendly or – in the world of Donald Trump – a downright hostile environment.

Perhaps we can help Mr. Trump and his supporters and of course ourselves by letting his rejects know that we have a long history of welcoming immigrants who are industrious, entrepreneurial and motivated.

A little ingenuity can go a long way (north to Canada in our case).

Jon Levin, Toronto

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The reason that Donald Trump's immigration policy remains unclear is because deporting most illegal immigrants is not in the best interest of American businesses and farmers – traditional Republican financial supporters.

Business people like Mr. Trump benefit from low-cost illegals.

If Republicans were actually serious about ending illegal immigration, there is a relatively simple and cost-effective solution. Just fine employers $25,000 for every illegal immigrant working for them.

Jobs for illegals would dry up immediately and the incentive for illegals to remain in the United States would die. To increase the efficiency of the law, snitches would receive $5,000 for every illegal immigrant worker reported. Harsh but effective.

Of course, Mr. Trump would rather build a beautiful wall, likely using illegal immigrants and paying them as little as possible.

Norman Rosencwaig, Toronto

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After watching the American election gong show for the past several months, I have concluded that Canada should build a wall on its southern border – and make Donald Trump pay for it.

Terry Parsonage, Winnipeg

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HPV self-testing

HPV screening for cervical cancer has been implemented in many different countries; several Canadian provinces have been looking at how to effectuate HPV screening for several years (Smear Campaign – Life & Arts, Aug. 22).

Globally, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women and remains a leading cause of death among women worldwide. Certainly, a top priority is to increase screening among marginalized and low-income women.

The HPV test is an opportunity to raise screening rates in under-screened populations because it offers self-testing. We encourage women to conduct their own research on the advantage of the HPV test when compared to the Pap test and call on governments to do their part to make HPV screening an option for women.

Jackie Manthorne, CEO, Canadian Cancer Survivor Network

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Some pain, not all

That physicians are providing most of the prescriptions driving the opioid overdose crisis is sad. As a pharmacologist and teacher of medical students at three medical schools (UBC, University of Alberta, and McMaster University), I know that prescribing morphine or other opioids as a first choice for chronic pain was not a part of their education.

They were taught that there are two main types of pain: noiciceptive and neuropathic pain.

Noiciceptive pain is the acute pain after a cut (including surgery), a bruise or a burn. If not severe, it can be treated with acetomenophen (Tylenol), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Aspirin or ibuprophen, or if severe, by morphine and other opioids.

Neuropathic pain, as the name suggests, is the result of long-term damage which affects nerve function and leads to sensitization of pain receptors and associated nerves. It cannot be effectively treated using opioids. Its treatment is complex and involves other agents, such as some antidepressants or pregabalin and gabapentin.

Opioids do temporarily relieve neuropathic pain, but the relief doesn't last and over time, increasing doses or use of more potent opioids such as fentanyl leading to addiction are required.

Treating neuropathic pain is complicated, but the prescription of opioids is a quick and dangerous temporary solution.

Edwin E. Daniel, Victoria

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Military math

Re New DND Facility Falls Short On Security (Sept. 2): So the new Department of National Defence Facility cost $208-million to purchase and requires $790-million for upgrades, totalling $998-million – but the good news is taxpayers will save $750-million over 25 years.

An interesting business plan.

Michael McGrath, Kingston

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