Who’s looking out for us when it comes to infectious disease?

For Immediate Release
October 3, 2014

Simcoe – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett is questioning how well Ontario is prepared to deal with emerging infectious disease.

“Questions are certainly being raised in the coffee shops and across social media,” MPP Barrett indicated. “There appears to be a large amount of unconfirmed information concerning Ebola and what measures should be taken as it continues to advance. People are questioning criteria for screening. For example, someone can feel fine on a flight but a few days later they are showing up in an ER after they’ve had contact with hundreds of people.”

Barrett said people tell him they feel they are not prepared for this and fear government is ill-prepared as well. He said this was evident during the 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto. Although the medical system quickly adapted to the outbreak of the unknown disease, it spread quickly before it was brought under control. People paid with their lives, and the City of Toronto’s tourism industry paid the economic price.

“BSE – another emerging infectious disease in cattle at the time – was front-page news when cattle were slaughtered to stop its spread, and to stop the spread to humans of Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease,” Barrett explained. “The beef industry adapted and put protocols in place to prevent any future cases from spreading so quickly. What is not widely known is some sectors of the beef economy are still paying a heavy price over a decade later.”

Since July, Barrett has been conducting extensive research on the need for provincial legislation with respect to emerging infectious diseases like West Nile virus, Lyme disease and Ebola. The aim is to address some of the shortfalls in research and the medical system, to establish guidelines for dealing with ailments, to have a better information program for the public.

Barrett intends to introduce his proposed legislation as a Private Members Bill when the Ontario Legislature reconvenes Oct. 20th.

– 30 –

For more information contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446
or by e-mail at toby.barrett@pc.ola.org