Canadian Recognition of MCS/ES (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities/Environmental Sensitivities)

The Canadian Human Rights Commission

Policy on Environmental Sensitivities

Individuals with environmental sensitivities experience a variety of adverse reactions to environmental agents at concentrations well below those that might affect the “average person”. This medical condition is a disability and those living with environmental sensitivities  are entitled to the protection of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. …

UPDATE 2013: see Canadian Human Rights Documents Archived

Ontario’s Human Rights Code

What is disability?

“Disability” covers a broad range and degree of conditions, some visible and some not visible. A disability may have been present from birth, caused by an accident, or developed over time. There are physical, mental and learning disabilities, mental disorders, hearing or vision disabilities, epilepsy, drug and alcohol dependencies, environmental sensitivities, and other conditions.

The Code protects people from discrimination because of past, present and perceived disabilities. For example, the Code protects a person who faces discrimination because she is a recovered alcoholic. So is a person whose condition does not limit their workplace abilities, but who is believed to be at greater risk of being able to do less in the future.

CERA the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation

…While environmental sensitivities are not well understood by the general public, they are recognized by Health Canada, the Canadian Health Network, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Canadian and Ontario Human Rights Commissions, the Ontario Medical Association and the Environmental Health Committee of the Ontario College of Family Physicians – among others….

Environmental Health Clinic

The Environmental Health Clinic is a unique multidisciplinary clinic, and the only one of its kind in Ontario. It was established in 1996 by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to be a provincial resource in promoting environmental health, and to improve health care for people with environment-linked conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and multiple chemical sensitivities.

The Environmental Health Clinic is the clinical part of a joint clinical and research program of Women’s College Hospital and the University of Toronto.

This post is in response to a request.

If anyone can provide other links, including the sources mentioned by CERA, I will add them.  Thanks in advance.

21 responses to “Canadian Recognition of MCS/ES (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities/Environmental Sensitivities)

  1. Thanks for the useful information, Linda. I’m planning to go to court. Do you have a list of court actions on the subject of MCS. Can also include mention of actions that were settled out of court.

    • The CHRC Policy link has 2 documents. One is on health, the other is on legal. They were published in 2007, so aren’t current, I’m not aware of others.
      There’s some kind of site that can be searched for legal actions, but I lost my links recently when my computer crashed, so I don’t remember the name of it.

  2. Wow, that’s some great information you have available for those who need it. In Australia, we now have some hospital guidelines for those patients who are chemically sensitive. I’ve created a list here:
    They include fragrance free policies too.

    Are you in Canada? Are there any fragrance free Universities or Tafes that you know of?

  3. Thank you so much for this information!!

  4. Dalhousie University, in Halifax NS, is scent-free, including its dorms and their 100% cotton sheets laundered with non-toxic products and dried without drier sheets. Indeed, the entire City of Halifax has a no-scent policy for its public spaces. When I settled my daughter in at school there, I spent several days out and about in the downtown areas, and never once saw a person with a cigarette.
    Dalhousie is a top-tier Canadian university.

    • It can be done!
      A growing number of jurisdictions are not only recognizing that clean, non-toxic air is better for living beings, but they are implementing policies to eliminate the pollutants!
      Glad you were able to find a healthier place for your daughter to attend university.

  5. The Govt of Canada is refusing to accomodate my environmental sensitivity restricting customers in use of scented products..therefore I dont work..and no financial support…I need a Dr. that understands and can help me get some financial assistance…

    • There is definitely a systemic discrimination issue, along with a lack of regulation re product safety, which means everyone is breathing in harmful air pollutants 24/7 these days.

      For doctors, perhaps the AAEM website can be of help? They have a referral box near the upper left. Look in the sidebar here on the right in the MEDICAL section for the Canadian clinics too, they may know more.

    • hi jamie i think i have MCS and am in canada just starting my battle with so called specialists wsib and lawyers contact me

      • Hello Kevin, I am wondering how you are making out and where in Canada you are, I may need a lawyer because I am having great difficulties at work. have you been diagnosed with msc ? I go see a specialist in feb.

    • Hi Jamie, I am having the same kind of situation as you, how have you been making out? I am going to see a specialist from the women’s college in Toronto on feb 8th. My co workers have no sympathy or respect for this condition at all.

  6. How can i be acceptet as a member for your FB block.
    My children are a victim by MCS i mostly aware thea becomme verry ill after getting vacctinations Hepatitus B Engerix adult, forr there adjugation at school! There bothe allergic forr medication chemicals outside air dust, cleaning and washing food specialy the E nr’s taste ans smellng stuff in food, etc it iss here inn the Netherlanths a not being reccednised daesaes, they are not able having a normale life, and are issolated from the world outside, cant have no treathment becomming ill! We are fighting a battle we a never going the win, most people dont even have heard from this very serieus desease!
    Its a sad and alone battle, were need help to get this children being roved off there healve, getting there healve back. Nobody iss lissening ore try to help! Are there treathments in your country avaleble helping and cure those patients! Thx forr reathing a am sorry forr my mistake riding, we are from holland, getting help now from Best Docters.

    • Hi Diny,
      So sorry your family has been affected too. Far too many people all over the world are suffering, without access to basic needs in many cases.

      Canada does not offer treatments under the medical coverage, but if we have money and can pay for them ourselves, there are health practitioners who do offer treatments.
      As we are all different in ways, the treatments that work for one person may not work for another.

      If you can, and especially since your children are involved, look into treatments that are being developed for autism, as there is a very big similarity of what happens, and what works for us.

      Regarding fb, I have a couple of pages that you can “like” (one for this blog, and the other for general environmental health news – look in the sidebar here under social media) but no group to be a member of – there are groups in Belgium and elsewhere in the EU that you can look for.

      I hope you find the support you need!

      Also, everyone should contact your elected representatives and ask for change! If they don’t hear from us, we don’t exist.

  7. Doug Halstead

    I have been suffering with MCS for decades. was lucky enough to get disability 24 years ago. It was for mental health issues. that has been how MCS suffers have been treated in Saskatchewan. just happy to not be homeless and sick.
    My wife and her daughter both have the same issues. We have some major relief with Charcoal air filtration. We have thought of seeing if there are others out there that would like to pool resources to buy a large parcel of land to build a sanctuary where we could live. our own Strata development. no burning, chemicals etc. We are looking in BC.
    Our fight for clean air is tough in a PETRO SOCIETY
    Doug/Donna Halstead
    306 222 5676

    • Hi Doug,
      I can’t for the day when there are safe and healthy places to live!
      Glad you have been able to get a bit of relief. Air purifiers with many pounds of activated carbon do help a lot inside with all the products and materials we can’t avoid, but we still need access to fresh air too, I have found…
      If you are looking in BC, did you know there’s a group there already working on a planned community?
      Maybe you could contact them and see if you could work together to make that project a reality?

  8. Hello Doug,
    We recently moved to B.C. in search of clean air. I’d be happy to talk more about it and tell you about my experiences & what I’ve learned. Please feel free to email if you’d like to contact me: .
    Cheers, Lisa

  9. Hi. I live in a condo with my daughter. I own the condo. Recently, I have become aware of secondhand smoke and pot smoke drifting into my condo. It causes me to wake up early in the mornings when the smoker smoke. I have complained to management and board but they need me to have securities smell my unit for cigarette smoke. The problem is non of them could smell it except for me because the smoke dissipate quickly. My daughter does not smell anything. I know that I am very sensitive to smell and smoke. I don’t wear perfume, for deodorant, I use some baking soda. I bought 3 air purifiers but the cigarette smoke and pot smell in the early mornings is lethal. I could still smell it when 2 purifiers are running at medium speed. Securities told me that I am the only one who could smell, it is my problems… I don’t know what to do, in the verge of depression.

    • It’s hard when other people’s sense of smell is so deadened that they can’t tell something is there… We are also much more able to detect the presence of pollutants, especially when they are something we’ve become allergic or sensitive to.

      If you know the smoke is stronger during certain times of the day, can you find a friend who can help you sniff out the source?

      Also, do what you can to seal up all the routes of entry into your space. Cracks sometimes exist between floors and walls, behind electrical outlets, around plumbing…

      Depending on where you live and what kind of support you have from a doctor, you might be able to get more human rights based assistance.

      There are also non-smokers rights associations who might be able to offer more advice.

  10. Just reviewing here, as I often do. Noting,e.g., Steve, some years ago, mentioned even info on out of court settlements. (Ours was in 1999-2003 re job location MCS accommodations.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.