For Immediate Release
November 20, 2014
QUEEN’S PARK – Legislation designed to better enable Ontario to deal with emerging infectious diseases has passed second reading with all-party support. The bill has been referred to the Legislative Assembly Committee.
The bill, tabled by Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett, addresses diseases such as Lyme, West Nile and Ebola.
“These are diseases that catch us flat-footed and somewhat unprepared when they emerge,” Barrett explained. “We must have plans and programs in place designed to anticipate new threats.”
Currently, there is no legislation directing the Ministry of Health to devise a comprehensive plan and program directed at infectious diseases. Barrett’s legislation would set in place decision-making structures and policies so Ontario can hit the ground running when something threatening or new comes along.
“I took a neutral, objective, science-based, research-based approach to crafting this legislation, calling for a provincial framework and action plan,” Barrett said. He believes this is the best approach as it will pull health experts together to come up with the action steps.
Barrett was motivated to table such legislation after hearing the stories of several people in the riding who have contracted Lyme disease. Each person detailed their frustration with being properly diagnosed and acquiring the appropriate treatment.
“It became apparent to me that much work has yet to be done with respect to treatment and management,” Barrett said. “The treatment of Lyme disease, for example, appears to be fraught with conflicting medical, scientific, political and social dimensions – disputes long overdue for resolution.”
Part of Barrett’s bill also directs the Minister to consult with other affected ministries, as well as the federal government and the public with respect to emerging infectious diseases.
“So far, we have been lucky on the Ebola front,” Barrett continued. “On SARS, Toronto was ground zero in North America. Politicians, hospitals, doctors – we were all left scrambling for something we had never seen before. We learned some lessons but more preparation is always better.”
Debate on Bill 27, An Act to Require a Provincial Framework and Action Plan Concerning Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases Act, 2014, can be seen here:
– 30 –
For more information please contact MPP Toby Barrett at
519-428-0446, 905-765-8413 or 1-800-903-8629