For immediate release: May 8, 2017
QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett continued to call for action on Lyme disease in the Ontario Legislature Wednesday night.
Barrett first raised questions about actions as mandated by his Private Member’s Bill Provincial Framework and Action Plan concerning Emerging Vector-Borne Diseases Act, 2015 in the Legislature. Unsatisfied with the answer he received, Barrett raised more specific questions Wednesday night.
“I asked for this late show. I wanted an opportunity to elaborate on my questions about Lyme disease and what is being done to help the growing number of people affected,” he said in the Legislature.
Barrett reiterated the bill called for action on several fronts – establish guidelines for prevention and establish guidelines for the identification, treatment and management of these emerging vector-borne diseases, creating emergency preparedness guidelines in regards to vector-borne diseases, the sharing of best practices and the acceleration of research – and asked for an update on progress in each area.
With Health Canada making changes in the case definition of Lyme and Ontario accepting this, Barrett asked how it will affect both those with Lyme and those who contract it in the future.
“Again, another question for the ministry: Could they expand on how this change will impact people suspected of having Lyme? Will it make diagnosis easier or will it make it tougher to try and find out what is going on and what should be done about it?”
One of the mandates of the bill was to further research. While paying tribute to the non-profit Gabe Magnotta Foundation, Barrett asked what the government is doing in this regard.
For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or [email protected]
ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member for Haldimand–Norfolk has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to a question given by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. The member has up to five minutes to debate the matter, and the minister or parliamentary assistant may reply for up to five minutes.
The member from Haldimand–Norfolk.
Mr. Toby Barrett: I asked for this late show. I wanted an opportunity to elaborate on my questions about Lyme disease and what is being done to help the growing number of people affected.
Two years ago, we put forward a private member’s bill. It was Bill 27, An Act to require a provincial framework and action plan concerning vector-borne diseases. It was passed in this institution with unanimous consent.
Bill 27 was an act, again, requiring a provincial framework. It called on the government to tackle the issue of Lyme and other infectious diseases on several fronts. The main thrust of the legislation: establish guidelines for prevention and establish guidelines for the identification, treatment and management of these emerging vector-borne diseases. It called on and mandated the Ministry of Health to include preparedness guidelines, the sharing of best practices and the acceleration of research.
One goal was to create and distribute standardized educational materials for use by health care providers and literature—brochures—that would be up-to-date and readily made available to the public.
My question—my series of questions—is, very simply, what progress has been made on the several mandates contained within the legislation?
Number one was education. If we can make people more aware of Lyme, for example, and make them more aware of the need to look for ticks and what to do if they find one, that’s one of the first steps in the battle.
Guidelines for prevention of tick contact: It’s really nothing new. The important thing is to get the word out, maintain an ongoing educational campaign and make people aware of the importance, for example, of wearing light-coloured clothing so that they can see any ticks that may be near them; the use of DEET; avoid tick-prone areas—a few of the good things we should know about.
Identification of ticks: Part of the campaign is that people need to know the difference between the very small blacklegged tick, the deer tick, as compared to the much larger dog tick—all important stuff for people, many of whom may not be aware of these differences.
Treatment and management of these kinds of diseases are key; the sharing of best practices and the acceleration of research are vital.
With respect to research, so little is known; so little really seemed to be gathered together. I understand—speaking with so many people—that there continues to be resistance within the medical community for examining certain approaches. Of course, on the other side of it, there are so many misconceptions out there, primarily on social media.
Again, the question: What kind of progress are we seeing on this front? What work has been done? There will be future epidemics.
So many people are travelling to the United States for treatment or for confirmation of tests. This can be expensive. This is a situation where people pay out of pocket and have come to realize that the health care system is not there for them.
Kudos to the non-profit organization the Gabe Magnotta Foundation for their work with respect to management and research.
I am asking for an update on progress with respect to research to date.
Earlier this year, the Public Health Agency of Canada changed the case definition for Lyme disease. They put out a bulletin; the definition has been revised. The technical task group has listed Ontario as one of the provinces implementing the change in this definition. Again, another question for the ministry: Could they expand on how this change will impact people suspected of having Lyme? Will it make diagnosis easier or will it make it tougher to try and find out what is going on and what should be done about it?
Speaker, we have a law. I’m just asking for some action on the problem.