A bill calling for a national policy on Lyme disease has passed Canada’s House of Commons with unanimous support, with Elizabeth May, the leader of the federal Green Party and bringer of the bill stating that “Extraordinary levels of non-partisan co-operation went into this.” Now that the bill has passed, what can Canadians expect from a national strategy on Lyme disease?
What is Bill C-442?
Elizabeth May’s bill, C-442, proposed that a Federal Framework on Lyme Disease be created to offer support for those at risk of or already suffering from the infection. Specifically, the bill calls for a national strategy addressing public education, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, a condition which is still woefully underreported by many physicians and unrecognised by many more.
The bill was supported by the minister of health, Rona Ambrose, and Conservative Sen. Janis Johnson. Senator Johnson will sponsor the bill in the Senate in the fall and with unanimous support in the House of Commons it seems a sure thing that it will also pass the senate. The bill was first introduced in May 2012, and since then there have been numerous reports on the spread of Lyme disease in Canada, including verification of a new host (a bird of prey), and a significant increase in ticks carrying the bacteria in Ontario and Alberta.
Involving Lyme Disease Advocacy Groups
The hope is that within a year there will be a plan in place to raise awareness of the condition, offer education to physicians and the public, and to look at improving diagnostic strategies and treatment initiatives. The bill calls for collaboration between the government and relevant advocacy groups, many of whom have worked hard to support May’s bill, hoping that it can act to reduce the number of sad stories of Lyme disease they hear over and over.
Public health officials also supported the bill, noting that Lyme disease was one of the fastest-growing diseases and a public health concern in Canada. For once, logic, rationality and concern for the health of all citizens has won against party politics, even for a bill proposed by the sole representative of the Green Party at the national level.