Police not trained to do distress calls

Dear Editor:

We thank nursing student Mona Wang from UBC Okanagan for sharing publicly her horrific encounter with the RCMP. We note she has the values, integrity, and courage needed to become a nurse, and are certain she will become a magnificent RN once completing her BScN degree.

Ms. Wang suffered indignities and pain as she was dragged down the hallway of her apartment building by an RCMP officer while experiencing mental-health distress. She is now suing the RCMP for physical and emotional injuries she suffered (there is video evidence of this) after police showed up at her apartment.

Ms. Wang’s devastating experience shows once again that police are not trained to help people with mental-health challenges. Lacking in most encounters between police and people experiencing mental-health distress is the expertise in de-escalation and the basics of respect, protection of dignity and kindness. Instead, we see the use of excessive power and raw brutality. This must stop!

Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario urges a defunding of police and the funding of mental-health teams as first responders to wellness checks. Police are not trained in crisis care and should not be expected to lead this critical work.

Successful models include health professionals trained in mental health, including nurses. They have the knowledge and skills and can de-escalate situations and offer the support and understanding people desperately need. In cases where there is concern about safety, police can serve as support to the mental-health team, but should never be a front-line responder in such a situation.

There is a long list of Canadians who have been mistreated, died or killed at the hands of police when they were in distress and officers were called to the scene for wellness checks. These individuals needed help and their families were left horrified asking what happened to their loved ones.

Our logic as a society is faulty. Nobody would expect the police to respond when a person is suffering from a heart attack. Why do we think that the police serve as the appropriate first responder for a mental-health event?

If we want to build a society that respects everyone and respects people’s mental health and well-being, we need a fundamental re-think on how we handle people who are in crisis.

We also need to make the necessary investments to ensure people get the support they need. Take the money out of police budgets and build the teams of health professionals that are qualified to take on this role — and deploy them as first responders.

Dr. Doris Grinspun, RN, CEO, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario

Reduce floods by saving more trees

Dear Editor:

It doesn’t take a scientist, if you Google or wiki ‘trees,’ it is all over the net. We need trees.

Forests affect floods. Mess with your forests and you mess with the flow. After a while, the forests can’t do their job and we pay for it.

Here are some proven ways trees make a big difference: trees improve air quality; trees improve water quality, and reduce flooding and erosion; trees temper climate; trees conserve energy; trees are good for the economy; trees create habitat for plants and animals; trees improve health; trees reduce crime.

Notice trees making good two by fours, supplying pulp or pellets for your wood stove don’t make the top 10.

Flood reduction is No. 2. If you don’t believe me, ask the Googles.

Today New Zealand has banned clear cutting of old growth.

China has a moratorium on cutting any natural forests. They only log from tree farms. They import all their raw log old growth from — wait for it — B.C.

Norway has become the first country to ban deforestation. In 2019 the Norwegian Parliament pledged that the government’s public procurement policy will be deforestation-free.

Any product that contributes to deforestation will not be used in the Scandinavian country.

The Billion Tree Tsunami is a provincial government program described as a “true conservation success story.” In northwestern Pakistan, hundreds of millions of trees have been planted to fight deforestation and floods.

Ethiopia is in the middle of a campaign to plant four billion trees before the fall to combat deforestation and climate change.

B.C. has the science and ability to save our forests and plant new trees, it doesn’t have the appetite.

Look out your window at the lake and watch it rise while we continue to fall trees in our watersheds, our parks and our back yards. Look at the costs related to this flooding and watch them rise.

Taryn Skalbania, Peachland

Which COVID program should be eliminated?

Dear Editor:

Re: “Trudeau took your guns, your money’s next” (letter by Andy Thomsen, June 18)

We owe a debt of gratitude to this writer for reminding us of the potential peril to the retirement funds many of us have spent a lifetime sacrificing to obtain and maintain .

Government spending has indeed been unprecedented during this crisis. The writer does not specify which COVID-19-related programs he would prefer had not been implemented.

As the writer rightly points out, the same situation that took place in Cyprus and Greece could well take place here, owing to the “bail-in” rule included in Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s 2013 omnibus budget bill, with no parameters for the protection of deposit holders.

Credit rating agency Moody’s, prompted by concern about the provision for “bail-in” rather than government bail out, changed its outlook for Canada’s banks to “negative” rather than “stable” at the time. Thank you for pointing this out.

As to “taking our guns,” I know the writer is cognizant of the decades of research, debate and mass murders that have repeatedly taken place, using these very weapons, which speaks clearly to warning and defensible reason.

Zoltan Lawrence, Kelowna

United States is not a true democracy

Dear Editor:

Recently, a few of my friends have commented that they do not understand how Americans, once so respected by the world, could possibly support and vote for Donald Trump.

The problem is that the U.S. republic is not a “pure” democracy. In the history of the United States, five candidates have won the popular vote but have not been elected president. The latest one of these was Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Why? Because the Founding Fathers did not trust the citizens to make the correct decisions, and thus created the Electoral College.

They believed that the ultimate choice for president should be left to “enlightened statesmen.”

When an American votes he/she thus vote for a member of the Electoral College, who then casts the votes for the president.

There are 538 Electoral College voters — 270 Electoral College votes are required to win the presidency.

It must be remembered the common man cannot be trusted to make the correct decision. Only the “enlightened statesmen” can do that.

In other words, the privileged and elite in-crowd.

The problem is that if the majority of citizens did not vote for Trump in the last election, and the Electoral College were aware of his many obvious failings/faults, where were their “enlightened statesmen.”

Could they have deferred to the popular vote? Probably not.

Could they have changed the outcome of that election? I don’t know, but that would have caused great unrest, given the rabid support of his followers – and they are “followers.”

If the U.S. is to become a “true” democracy, it is time for the Electoral College to be a thing of the past and let the people alone truly decide their future.

Patrick MacDonald, West Kelowna