Ontario has the highest number of cases of Lyme disease in the country


Now that the Legislative Assembly has risen for the summer, MPPs can finally dust off from our battles in Queen’s Park and catch our breath. That’s not to say that we can sit back and lollygag until the House is recalled at the end of October, but at least we can spend more time back home with our constituents. As I write this column I am looking forward to two solid weeks of constituency clinics in communities throughout the riding.

As summer begins I wish to remind everyone that no matter where you live in Ontario, all of us need to be on watch for ticks and take simple steps to help prevent Lyme disease. In the last week of the spring session I was successful in introducing a motion calling on the Ford Government to stop delaying and take immediate action against the growing cases of Lyme disease in Ontario.

Chronic Lyme disease has the potential to affect every system in the body and can result in paralysis. Without question, too many Ontarians are already suffering with the debilitating disease. And it’s getting worse.

Many are surprised to learn that Ontario has the highest number of cases of Lyme disease in the country, and that the number is continually growing. After watching the disease slowly creeping north for years, Northerners have reason to be alarmed. In fact, Northwestern Ontario faces the highest infection prevalence of Lyme disease in Canada. A research study on Corkscrew Island, located 20 kilometres southwest of Kenora, discovered that Lyme disease was found in eight species of ticks, with 41 per cent testing positive for Lyme disease.

People, not only from Algoma-Manitoulin but from across the province, call my office or send letters and messages saying they are worried about contracting Lyme disease, or worse, that they or a loved one has been diagnosed with the disease.

That’s why I became an active member of the non-partisan task force that included patients, medical doctors, researchers, Ministry of Health officials, health care professionals and advocates. The task force published the Report of the Lyme Disease and Tick-Borne Illnesses Task Force. It calls on the Province to take action on the 10 recommendations included in the report.

The frustrating part is, the Ford Government has no reason to delay taking action. They have a readymade plan in their hands today to tackle Lyme disease. When it comes to dealing with Lyme disease, there is no room for callous politics. Doug Ford just needs to take action on that plan now to stop the spread of the disease and help Ontarians with this health crisis. Ford can, and must, take action now to protect the people of Northwestern Ontario and protect families across this province.

Just like so many of the good people in this riding, I’m a Northerner in that I have a real love for the out of doors. It’s in your blood when you are born and raised here. As well, Northerners understand the necessity of travel to access everyday things like school, employment, healthcare, and a long list of goods and services that may not be close at hand locally. Now I may be wrong but, I think maybe that this is part of Doug Ford’s inability to truly relate to the life of the average Ontarian. Ford needs to get out more. His experience is limited to living in concrete jungles and running the family label business. If it isn’t just an unfortunate lack of genuinely caring for people, how else can you explain his tendency to put the desires of his rich friends and supports above that of the wellbeing of ‘regular’ Ontarians?

Besides not taking advantage of a readymade Lyme disease plan, look no further than his decision to cap the wages of frontline workers who deliver an endless list of vital services to the people of Ontario. Essential services that people really count on day in and day out such as education and healthcare. Public-sector workers are the people who make our province work by caring for our loved ones, keeping our roads safe, making sure the food we eat and water we drink is safe. These workers are there 24/7 to ensure our most vulnerable citizens including children and seniors are cared for and safe.

This is exactly the kind of behaviour we have come to expect from the Ford Government. We saw it when Ford callously ripped away services from children with autism before consulting with families. And we saw it when Ford tried to retroactively cut provincial funding for municipal services like child care, land ambulances and public health.

When it comes to decision making, policy development and creating legislation, the Ford Government has earned a well deserved reputation for acting under the philosophy of, “ready, fire, aim.” They should be carrying out genuine, meaningful consultation before making devastating cuts, not cutting first and asking questions later.

Politicians are not elected to reward their supporters and friends. They are not elected to offer cushy, high paying jobs to allies or those who they owe favours to. And they are not elected just to see how long they can hang onto power by forming government. We are elected to do what is right and what is best for the people of this province.

As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters. You can reach my constituency office by email at [email protected] or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.


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