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Lyme/vector-borne disease bill

passes into law

By MPP Toby Barrett

When I was elected in 1995, the Long Point area was the only area identified as an endemic area for deer ticks in southern Ontario. Lyme disease wasn’t on most people’s radar.

That has changed – and not for the better!

Bill 27, the Provincial Framework and Action Plan concerning Emerging Vector-Borne Diseases Act, 2015 tackles the issue. In June it received Royal Assent and is now the law of the land. It requires the Minister of Health to develop an action plan and framework in regards to maladies such as Lyme disease.

Lyme disease has become enough of a concern that more than 150 people crowded Queen’s Park for an awareness day as part of Lyme Awareness Month.

I was so compelled by my meetings with Lyme disease sufferers a year ago, I proposed a Private Member’s Bill to tackle this issue. Make no mistake about it, this is not just a disease that hunters, anglers, farmers and outdoor enthusiasts need to worry about. One of the individuals that I met picked up Lyme while working – and he wasn’t in long grass or brush.

Many report our health care system isn’t there for them. Lyme victims often pay out of their own pocket to be diagnosed in the United States.

Lyme is often mistaken for the flu. Symptoms can include: fatigue, fever or chills, headache, numbness or tingling, spasms, skin rash, brain fog, dizziness, swollen nymph nodes, arthritis and arthritic symptoms and abnormal heartbeat. Flu-like symptoms in the warmer months could warrant seeking medical advice.

Lyme is defined as a vector-borne disease and the black-legged (deer) ticks that spread it are the vector. It isn’t the only relatively-new vector-borne disease wreaking havoc with the health system and people’s lives. West Nile virus is another example. Carried by mosquitos, just about anyone is vulnerable.

West Nile symptoms include fever, headache, body ache, fatigue, back pain, skin rash and swollen nymph nodes. Close to one per cent of those infected will develop serious neurological symptoms.

Bill 27 requires government to:
* Enhance provincial surveillance by using data to properly track incidence rates of emerging vector-borne diseases.
* Establish guidelines regarding the prevention, identification, treatment and management of emerging vector-borne diseases, including preparedness guidelines and the sharing of best practices throughout the province.
* Create and distribute standardized educational materials related to emerging vector-borne diseases, for use by health care providers and by members of the public, designed to increase awareness about those diseases.
* Promote research in connection with emerging vector-borne diseases.
Bill 27 was one of the few times I have seen all three parties agree on something. The first two readings came fairly quickly, but then the bill seemed to be caught in administrative red tape at the committee level. It was chosen as one of two bills my caucus put forward with unanimous consent from the other parties for approval before the end of the last session of the Legislature.

With Bill 27 passed, what’s next for victims of vector-borne diseases? The bill is set up to allow the Ontario Minister of Health to execute its intentions. Change won’t come overnight – and as reinforced during a Grimsby roundtable on Lyme last week – will require a continued and concerted effort from us all.


Newsroom

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QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett rose in the House Thursday during Question Period and demanded urgent action on completion of the Cayuga bridge.
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Public hearings moved up to June 1 on vector-borne and zoonotic diseases bill
QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett’s infectious diseases bill was passed today in the Ontario Legislature with unanimous consent from all parties.
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Public hearings moved up to June 1 on vector-borne and zoonotic diseases bill

QUEEN'S PARK– Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett was successful in securing one day of legislative assembly committee hearings for his private member’s bill – Bill 27 -- that would better enable Ontario to deal with emerging infectious diseases. The bill addresses diseases such as Lyme, West Nile and Ebola.
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Barrett renews push for action on Lyme
QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett renewed the push for answers on Lyme disease in front of a Queen’s Park gallery crowded with those afflicted by the disease.
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Barrett concerned electricity prices driving out industry
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Electricity rates up 14 per cent, May 1
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No help for agriculture in budget: Barrett
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Budget misses the mark

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Barrett/Hoskins discuss Norfolk doctor shortage
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Barrett has mixed emotion with Invasive Species Act
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Liberals increase deficit for third straight year
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Barrett to Ag Minister on neonics: “Why won’t you speak up for farmers?”
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Barrett pays tribute to farmers during Farm Safety Week
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Adding livestock to crop insurance is good news: Barrett
QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP and Opposition Critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Toby Barrett supports government legislation to allow crop insurance to be expanded to cover livestock.
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Despite impressive gains, agricultural literacy remains a struggle
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Sudbury scandal: Premier asked to step aside if charges laid
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Moody’s sounds another warning about Ontario finances
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Barrett calls for re-striking the gas plant committee
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Barrett fears consequences of policy on rural school closings
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Dental benefits for low-income Ontarians needed sooner rather than later
Simcoe – Access to proper dental and oral health care improves lives and reduces costs on our health care system.
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Petition: Say no to new gas taxes
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Comment period on bee health coming to a close
SIMCOE – Local MPP and Critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Toby Barrett is reminding interested parties that the comment period regarding neonicotinoid insecticide is coming to a close January 25th.
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Cayuga bridge is about safety

Queen’s Park – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett advocates the Ontario Minister of Community Safety and Corrections to step in on the native-shutdown of the Cayuga bridge reconstruction..

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Barrett praises federal invasive species regulations

QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett welcomed the new federal aquatic invasive species regulations.

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Auditor General takes government to task on spending, electricity

QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario’s Auditor General confirmed Tuesday what Opposition MPPs have been saying about the province’s electricity pricing.

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PC Critics call for a rigorous scientific and consultative approach to neonics

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Will government provide mortality insurance to assist beekeepers?

QUEEN'S PARK – MPP Toby Barrett, Opposition Critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, questioned the Premier today regarding bee mortality insurance, and asked why Ontario has yet to implement a Manitoba style insurance program to help Ontario beekeepers.

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Two area companies honoured for ag innovation

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New production insurance changes needed and must address farmers’ concerns

QUEEN'S PARK– An expansion of production insurance to cover more agricultural commodities is long overdue.

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Barrett’s infectious disease bill receives all-party support
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Liberals’ unrealistic and unaffordable path continues
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Burning Kiln again chosen by Legislature

QUEEN’S PARK – Dignitaries, politicians and perhaps royalty will be enjoying a glass of Burning Kiln 2013 Strip Room after the Norfolk red wine was chosen as the Ontario Legislature’s official red wine for 2015.

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Barrett bill to address infectious diseases

SIMCOE – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett has introduced a bill that will address infectious diseases such as Lyme, West Nile and Ebola.

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When will we see local food in hospitals and schools?

QUEEN'S PARK – Ontario’s Agriculture Minister refuses to answer when the entire Local Food Act will be proclaimed.

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Barrett urges people to testify on insurance bill

QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett agrees with committee hearings to allow more input on Bill 15, Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, 2014 in the wake of second reading debate on the legislation Monday.

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

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

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