The month of May is marked as Lyme Disease Awareness month and a time to remember the thousands of Canadians who are affected by Lyme disease. I have heard so many tragic stories from across Ontario of people who were unable to access necessary treatment because of how poorly we understand this disease.
Last November I introduced a motion calling for a Lyme Disease Prevention Strategy in Ontario which passed unanimously. Lyme disease is a significant and growing health issue across our province. To date the provincial government does not have a plan for Lyme, they do not have adequate medical testing and treatment, and many health practitioners are not Lyme literate.
I am encouraged that my motion calling for the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to develop a comprehensive and integrated Lyme disease strategy for Ontario passed unanimously last November. However, we are going on 6 months since my motion passed and the government says they have an ‘action plan’ on Lyme but it appears to be all talk and no action.
Health Canada predicts that there will be up to 18,000 cases of Lyme in Canada by 2020, and Ontario currently has the highest number of cases in the country. Lyme disease is emerging as a public health crisis here and abroad.
A critical component of my motion is consultation with key stakeholders and experts in the field of Lyme treatment. On Wednesday, the Queen’s Park Legislature was at capacity with people from across the province that came to support my motion as well as call on the government to stop their foot-dragging and get a move on with this strategy. I told the Minister that stakeholders and organizations who represent Lyme patients must be consulted, if they are not we will get absolutely no changes made to Lyme education, testing and treatment, and patients will continue to suffer.
It is paramount that these experts and advocates are brought together and the government works with them to develop this plan. Tick season has begun, and we need to move quickly. I will continue to push the government to act swiftly and will ensure that these experts are consulted in this process. I want to thank members of the Ontario Lyme Alliance who have worked tirelessly on this issue and advocated for the many Lyme patients who are too sick to do so themselves. Thank you for all your shared information and new friendships.