Hon Deborah Matthews, MPP
The growing Lyme disease epidemic in Ontario has been repeatedly ignored and dismissed by the Ministry of Health leaving millions of Ontarians in danger of contracting a debilitating and deadly illness without the institutions in place to provide them with proper treatment. We therefore demand that Health Minister Deb Matthews resign due to her negligence and her failure to provide Ontarians with the "finest healthcare" that Premier McGuinty has promised us.
On Nov. 30th, 2011 MPP Bob Bailey (Sarnia-Lambton) tabled a petition endorsed by over 100 Ontario Municipalities representing more than 3 million Ontarians (2006 statistics) calling on the Minister to enact immediate changes to the way Lyme disease is tested and treated:
1) Include all currently available and scientifically verified tests for Acute and Chronic Lyme Disease diagnosis;
2) To do everything necessary to create public awareness of the disease;
3) To have internationally developed diagnostic and successful treatment protocols made available to patients and physicians
The Minister responded to the petition on March 19th, 2012 by stating that the government is “committed to protecting the safety of all Ontarians and their families from preventable vector-borne diseases.” However, her response failed to address the major issues outlined in the petition and ignored Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer’s warning that “If left untreated, Lyme disease can progress to an early-disseminated disease with migraines, weakness, multiple skin rashes, painful or stiff joints, cardiac abnormalities and extreme fatigue. If the disease continues, arthritis, along with neurological symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, numbness and paralysis can occur.” Given the magnitude of Ontarians asking for change, it is beyond belief that such a simplistic response could be given.
It also was both shocking and discouraging to see that there was no commentary regarding the present testing regime which has failed so many Ontarians. Rather the status quo would be maintained without any change, expansion or even review. Nor was there any suggestion of inclusion of access to testing which many Ontarians have sought from international labs.
Ontario doctors follow a two-tiered testing system for Lyme disease. The first screening test is called an ELISA test. When ELISA test results for Lyme disease are positive, doctors prescribe appropriate antibiotics. In 2006, The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society, a world-renowned body, said that “The ELISA screening test is unreliable. The test misses 35% of culture proven Lyme (only 65% sensitivity) and is unacceptable as the first step of a two-tier screening protocol.”
When ELISA test results are negative, doctors can not prescribe antibiotics and in Ontario doctors rarely order the second, more reliable, Western Blot test.
The longer it takes for a patient to be diagnosed, the worse their condition becomes, and the greater the financial and emotional toll on the patient and their family.
Many doctors including infectious disease specialists know very little about the growing threat of Lyme disease (and the scandalous lack of treatment for those affected) in Canada today.
Ontario’s health system is rapidly deteriorating, i.e., the recent ORNGE fiasco, the issues with eHealth, the insufficient number of family physicians in the province, etc. If indeed a cabinet minister is responsible for the inaction of their ministry, then Deb Matthews has crossed the line one too many times. She has demonstrated astounding negligence in the case of the growing public health threat of Lyme disease.
The members of The York Region Lyme Alliance demand the Minister’s immediate resignation and plead with the Premier to replace her with someone who is committed to providing Ontarians with the finest health care.
The York Region Lyme Alliance
Lyme Alliance calls for Deb Matthews' Resignation - The Daily Observer - Ontario, CA