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Letters May 23: Illegal drugs; naloxone's role; injured under a no-fault system; boneheads in Calgary

A nasal naloxone emergency-supply box at Carleton University in Ottawa. DILLON BRADY, CARLETON UNIVERSITY VIA VANCOUVER SUN

Many factors involved, not fair to say ‘led’

Re: “UVic accused of ‘systematic f­ailures’ after student dies from overdose,” May 17.

The tragic death of Sidney McIntyre-Starko is a stark reminder of the continuing fentanyl-fuelled crisis facing Canada.

My heart goes out to her family and friends and I applaud the advocacy by her parents for improvements to how social institutions do their part to reduce the ever-increasing death rates from illegal drugs.

However, for the Times Colonist to condemn the University of Victoria for a “failed medical response that led” to her death before completion of the pending coroner’s inquest is unfortunate.

Shortcomings at every step of the way, from the failure to prevent the sale of illegal drugs, to the decision to take a chance on ingesting a potentially lethal drug, to what the medical response may or may not have been in this case, all contributed to the outcome in their own particular way.

Finger-pointing by and at law enforcement officials, medical and helping professionals, university and government officials more generally, and individual drug users is undoubtedly useless in the fight against illegal drug use and death.

If our intention is to reduce the tragedy associated with illegal drug use, we need to recognize and support the good intentions of all the players in this fight.

Dr. Howard Brunt

North Saanich

UVic student was failed by friends on campus

I’m glad that the parents of UVic student Sidney McIntyre-Starko were able to investigate so thoroughly the events leading up to her fentanyl poisoning. I’m also glad that Premier David Eby has said there will be a coroner’s inquest to examine the medical response failures of the university’s security personnel and first responders.

There’s something missing in the Times Colonist’s coverage, however, and I hope this missing piece will be addressed in the inquest.

A friend (or friends, plural) of ­McIntyre-Starko offered her a drug in a dorm room. One of them, it can be assumed, had obtained the drug from someone else, a seller (possibly someone else on campus) — and while it’s not illegal to possess these substances “for personal use,” I believe it’s still illegal to sell them.

The friends who survived this tragedy must be compelled to reveal the source of the drugs, and what their thinking was about accessing and using them. There’s vital information here that could help us help these kids. Those friends must also be made to understand their moral accountability in this tragedy (and I stress here, moral accountability; not criminal responsibility).

These young students are almost certainly not addicts. They made choices. They chose to experiment, chose to involve others in their experiment, and chose not to access the naloxone kits or drug-testing strips that are freely available on campus. Now they’re grieving the loss of a friend, but they should not be coddled as if they’re the victims. We don’t need to know their names, but they need to know that the failure of greatest magnitude here was their own.

Brenda Robson


Seeking naloxone is missing the point

Re: “Students’ society calls for naloxone kits,” May 18.

I debated with myself whether to weigh in on this story, but since others have expressed their views, I would add to them this: the members of the UVic Student Society may as well drop out and save their money for something other than the pursuit of a higher education, if they think that the correct response to the recent tragedy on their campus is to demand a back-up plan for ingesting unknown, possibly lethal, substances, rather than refraining from taking them in the first place.

These young people are, obviously, bereft of the critical thinking abilities necessary in order to learn anything.

Thank you, my teachers in high school five decades ago, for ramming it down our throats that illicit drugs are dangerous and to be avoided, period.

And speaking of high school, where are the drug education programs that these students obviously never benefited from? Were they totally ineffective, or not even offered?

Lorraine Lindsay


Catastrophic injuries in a no-fault system

Re: “ ‘The basic premise is that we’ve got you covered — the reality is that’s not true,’ ” May 19.

“Shocking” and “horrendous” are the only words that can describe the situation Tim Schober is in.

For minor bangs, scrapes, and other related short-term injuries the “no-fault” system might work; it doesn’t for the type of life-changing events and outcomes Schober and his family continue to face.

“Shameful” and “inhumane” are the only words that can describe ICBC’s approach to his circumstances.

In addition, the fastidious financial monitoring by ICBC of nickels and dimes under these conditions only adds more injury and insult to the situation. Disrespectful to say the least.

The “dumpster fire” associated with the previous government’s oversight of ICBC needed correction, but not to the extent expressed here.

Changes must be made to how these types of catastrophic, lifelong injuries are compensated for and supported going forward in the injured person’s life.

It does not have to compromise the overall intent of a no-fault system, but must deal with these types of accidents in a different way.

John Stevenson


Eby, ICBC count money as a family suffers

I seriously trust that Premier David Eby and the hierarchy at ICBC read the article “’The basic premise is we’ve got you covered — the reality is that’s not true,” May 19.

This article should bring tears to the eyes of all those who had the opportunity to read it. And with a prayer that one is not involved in such an epic family tragedy.

Eby and the leaders of ICBC are patting themselves on their respective backs extolling the virtues of their pathetic and blatant election promise of a minuscule $110 rebate to B.C. drivers.

In the meantime, a family is put through the ringer of a financial disaster as a result of a vehicle accident where the breadwinner becomes, through no fault of his own, a quadriplegic. Even the wife is unable to work and extremely qualified caregivers are necessary on a twice daily basis. This is expensive stuff.

ICBC seems to suggest that the benefits provided to the family are within their guidelines. Quite clearly ICBC does not understand the benefits provided in this case, and many others, are not acceptable to those who suffer catastrophic injuries.

Many such serious cases have been previously reported and it is time Eby recognized B.C. has a serious problem; legal reform must be reestablished to give seriously injured drivers the right to have courts assess the benefits necessary for both them and their families to maintain a semblance of a lifestyle they deserve.

And for all of this puffery, my insurance rate has not been reduced all that amount. And for what ?

Let the government stop wasting billions of dollars on election pandering, bring forth the required amendments to ICBC, deal with the current challenges, and prevent another financial family catastrophe.

You, a relative or good friend, could be next.

H.J. Rice


Calgary has its share of boneheads as well

Re: “Calgary’s cyclists could show the right skills,” letter, May 21.

As a former long-time Calgary resident (1963-2016) I feel I have a right to speak on this matter.

I also commuted to work on those very same pathways from 1988-2015.

There is definitely no more civility on the part of Calgary cyclists. And worse yet is the preponderance of rental e-scooters on those pathways.

We keep a condo in the inner city in Calgary, so we walk often along Prince’s Island, Chinatown etc. pathways.

I can’t count the number of times I have felt threatened by boneheads using pedestrians as a slalom course, even when there is a dedicated cycle lane five metres away and parallel to the pedestrian-only pathway.

There are many boneheads on our trails here, but it is no better in Calgary.

Mark Barnes


We are responsible for helping the world

Once again, we are faced with another round of letter and opinion writers ­telling us that we are foolish to try to reduce Canada’s carbon emissions as they constitute only a small percentage of the global total, and that it is even worse folly to believe we can make a difference when we ride our bike or drive an electric car.

The logic is clear. I am a fool to pay my income taxes, as the money I contribute is a minuscule drop in the lake of the federal and provincial budgets, and its absence would make no real difference to the deficit.

I am likewise silly to obey speed limits, as my driving is but a tiny, zero point several decimal places percentage of the overall traffic in the region.

And what do we tell those surviving, aged veterans of the Second World War? That they and their comrades were fools to enlist because they were just a minute percentage of the millions who fought on all sides? That Canada was too small a nation to make any difference?

Call me a conservative, but I still believe that taking individual responsibility for doing my bit to shoulder the load is the right thing to do. And do we still believe the same goes for our national responsibility to make the world a safer and more stable place?

David Conway



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