SIMCOE – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett was pleased to see the release of the report from the Lyme Disease and Tick-Borne Illnesses Task Force.

Barrett’s 2015 Private Member’s Bill An Act to require a provincial framework and action plan concerning vector-borne diseases, required the establishment of a provincial action plan on Lyme Disease. The task force was struck as a result of the bill.

The report has several immediate and long-term goals. The immediate goals were:

1. Establish centres of excellence for tick-borne illnesses with all stakeholders, including patients and patient advocates and caregivers, involved in the development processes.

2. Conduct a review of current clinical practice guidelines focused on the assessment, treatment, and prevention of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

3. Improve communications to regulated health professionals regarding standards of practice for diagnosing and treating Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

4. Provide professional education opportunities for regulated health professionals and establish a coordinated care model for patients with Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses at all stages of these diseases.

5. Improve education and awareness of tick-borne illnesses among the general public.

6. Continue engagement with school boards, community groups, associations, and other provincial ministries to highlight importance of tick-borne illness prevention.

7. Establish a community-based research blueprint for tick-borne illnesses with principles of inquiry and an implementation process.

8. Review current testing methodologies for diagnosing Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

9. Conduct a review of current tick surveillance activities in Ontario.

10. Establish a task force with tick-borne illness expertise and engagement with all stakeholders to provide ongoing advice and to review an annual report on progress of implementing Ontario’s 10-Step Education and Awareness Plan1 and the recommended actions from this report.

Barrett thanked all those who served on the task force for providing their expertise for this important initiative.

Although the report was released last month, Barrett learned of it last week from a stakeholder group.

It’s a shame when this bill was passed with cooperation from all three parties, that the initiator of the bill learn of the report coming out of it from a third party,” Barrett said. “Hopefully the spirit of cooperation will continue on this topic in the future.”

He was also disappointed the report took so long. His original version of the bill called for: “The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care shall, within one year after the day on which this Act comes into force, develop a provincial framework and action plan concerning vector-borne and zoonotic diseases …”.

However, the final version of the bill that was passed, was modified to read: “The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care shall develop a provincial framework and action plan concerning emerging vector-borne diseases that does or provides for . . . “

“For people with Lyme, time is of the essence,” Barrett said. “I continue to hear stories from many constituents with Lyme who found their government wasn’t there for them and they lost hope.”

With this being Lyme Disease Awareness Month, Barrett also wanted to reinforce the message that regular tick checks when in endemic areas is the best prevention.

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