FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 1, 2016
QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett is asking why the legislated mandate for action on Lyme disease, West Nile virus and other infectious diseases is not in place.
Barrett, the MPP for one of the original Ontario areas endemic to the deer ticks that carry Lyme, tabled a Private Member’s Bill on Lyme disease, West nile and other infectious disease that was passed unanimously by the Ontario Legislature last year. The law mandated an action plan to be in place with a deadline of one year. That deadline has now arrived.
During Question Period, Barrett asked the minister for the plan and its actions. Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins didn’t answer the question. In fact, he talked about a cancer care centre in North Bay, instead.
Still searching for an answer, Barrett again asked what has been put in place – as required by law – to assist people with Lyme now another tick season is upon us.
“I received an email from the mother of a Lyme victim: ‘The people of Ontario need to know that our health care is like living in a Third World country.’ Minister, people continue to go to the States for Lyme disease testing and for treatment,” Barrett said in the Legislature. “We want to know, what is Ontario now doing, as legislated, to help these people? What has been done with respect to testing? What has been done with respect to treatment, to prevention, surveillance? What new approaches—we’ve had a year—do we now see with respect to education and research?
While Hoskins said the Lyme reference group formed out of the bill is working on making recommendations, he still didn’t say when any changes would be in place.
For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or [email protected]
ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1, 2016
INFECTIOUS DISEASE CONTROL
Mr. Toby Barrett: To the Minister of Health: A year ago this Legislature enacted a private member’s bill to create a provincial framework and an action plan concerning vector-borne and zoonotic diseases—diseases like Lyme. The law mandates the framework and the action plan within a year of when it was passed. Obviously, the year is now up.
Will the minister please outline to this House and to people affected by diseases like Lyme the required plan to take action?
Hon. Eric Hoskins: We have a Lyme reference group that is comprised of stakeholders on this issue which is working towards issuing a strategy together with the provincial government. We are working on a broader strategy as well.
I appreciate getting a health question because I feel compelled to address an issue that was raised by one of the member’s colleagues earlier this week about the cancer care clinic in North Bay. I’m compelled to because this involves individuals and families who are suffering from cancer who have been shaken because of a rumour that was started by the member from Nipissing. The rumour began with him and was promulgated by him and there was no truth to it. The president of North Bay hospital, as well as the head of the cancer clinic, had to come forward and publicly deny that there was absolutely—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. Come to order, please. Come to order.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): People are taking a risk. There are votes today.
Please finish. You have wrap-up.
Hon. Eric Hoskins: Mr. Speaker, this is so important to the public interest. The member from Nipissing didn’t bother to call the hospital, didn’t bother to call the cancer clinic, didn’t bother to talk to me. He promulgated a rumour which he knew was untrue and it’s the crisis—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.
Mr. Todd Smith: He’s out of order.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. I know my job. The member will withdraw.
Hon. Eric Hoskins: I withdraw.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?
Mr. Toby Barrett: Minister, I do ask you to come back to this issue of the deadline for action on Lyme.
I received an email from the mother of a Lyme victim: “The people of Ontario need to know that our health care is like living in a Third World country.” Minister, people continue to go to the States for Lyme disease testing and for treatment. We want to know, what is Ontario now doing, as legislated, to help these people? What has been done with respect to testing? What has been done with respect to treatment, to prevention, surveillance? What new approaches—we’ve had a year—do we now see with respect to education and research?
The tick season and the mosquito season is now upon us. Minister, I sincerely ask you, what has been put in place?
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.
Hon. Eric Hoskins: The issue of Lyme disease, and the broader strategy as well for dealing with similar zoonotic diseases that are prevalent in this province, is an issue that’s extremely important to me as a public health doctor, it’s extremely important to the ministry. We’re working hard. We have a reference group that is comprised of many stakeholders.
I want to commend as well the member from Algoma–Manitoulin. I’ll be meeting with him next week, I believe, and a number of stakeholders specifically on the issue of Lyme disease. I want to commend him for his proactive work and advocacy on this issue. It’s extremely important.
We have a reference group which is doing their hard work, which is working toward updating our provincial strategy. Mr. Speaker, I won’t be satisfied until we have a strategy that reflects the best clinical guidelines and the best evidence and science available so that we can provide individuals who are at risk of or suffering from Lyme disease, whether that’s acute or chronic, the best possible care in this province that they can get.