The Government of the Province of Ontario, specifically the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) finally announced the establishment of a Task Force on Environmental Health.
Let’s hope this new project creates the long overdue and effective changes and access to basic services that are needed by people with environmentally linked, disabling, chronic health conditions like MCS/ES, unlike the 1985 project which created a 600+ page report with recommendations that were largely ignored (see links below), which allowed these and other problems to fester and increase in severity and magnitude.
The news release about the new task force follows:
Task Force on Environmental Health
Many Ontarians live with conditions triggered by environmental factors that are difficult to diagnose and treat.
These conditions may include:
- Environmental Sensitivities/Multiple Chemical Sensitivity;
- Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; and
People diagnosed with these types of conditions face challenges in their experiences as patients, from diagnosis to treatment to living with the long-term impacts. People also suffer from stigmatization in clinical settings, the workplace and other areas of their lives as a result of a general lack of understanding of these complex conditions.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) has announced the establishment of a Task Force on Environmental Health to provide recommendations and advice to:
- inform possible guidelines and policies to support patients with conditions triggered by environmental factors;
- increase public and health care providers’ knowledge of health conditions triggered by environmental factors;
- identify gaps in evidence, knowledge transfer and care for those affected by these conditions; and
- identify patient-focused actions to improve health outcomes of affected patients.
The Task Force consists of 15 members appointed by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, of which 1/3 are patients or caregivers. The Task Force has a term of up to three years beginning in 2016 and ending in 2019. The Task Force members are:
- Howard Hu (Chair), Dean, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
- Neil Stuart (Vice-Chair), Health Care Consultant
- Bill Manson, Senior Director, Performance Management, Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network
- Cornelia Baines, Professor Emerita, Dalla Lana Faculty of Public Health, University of Toronto
- Denise Magi, Vice-President, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario
- Dona Bowers, Physician, Somerset West Community Health Centre
- Izzat Jiwani, person with lived experience
- Joanne Plaxton, Director, Health Equity Branch, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
- John Molot, Staff Physician and Medical/Legal Liaison, Environmental Health Clinic, Women’s College Hospital
- Julie Schroeder, Standards Development Branch, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
- Maureen MacQuarrie, person with lived experience
- Mike Ford, person with lived experience
- Nancy Sikich, Director, Health Technology Assessment, Health Quality Ontario
- Sharron Ellis, person with lived experience
- Varda Burstyn, person with lived experience
Secretariat support for the Task Force is provided by the MOHLTC. Regular updates will be provided to interested stakeholders.
For more information or to receive regular updates please contact TFEH@ontario.ca.
Current project history can be found on the Recognition, Inclusion and Equity website
1984 – 1985
“In Ontario, after carefully reviewing the available evidence on ES-MCS in 1984, both published and revealed in interviews and focus groups, the Ad Hoc Committee on Environmental Hypersensitivity Disorders, appointed by the then Ontario Minister of Health, Keith Norton, and chaired by Judge George M. Thomson, concluded that there was sufficient evidence that environmental hypersensitivity was a health problem that needed to be addressed, and recommended funding of a collaborating university research program and academically-affiliated provincial clinic to fill the scientific and service gaps (Thomson GM, Chair. Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Environmental Hypersensitivity Disorders to the Ontario Ministry of Health, 1985).”
Environmental Sensitivities-Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Status Report (PDF)
Advances in Knowledge, and Current Service Gaps (2011)
Environmental Health Clinic Women’s College Hospital, Toronto
1985 – 2006
Report of the ad hoc Committee on Environmental Hypersensitivity Disorders
Thomson recommendations (1985) and progress to 2006 can be found in the CHRC (PDF) Report
If the 1985 report recommendations been taken seriously, it is likely that many childhood allergies, learning difficulties, cancers, reproductive problems, and numerous other types of chronic and costly health problems currently linked to pollutants could have been prevented, along with the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people who are disabled from everyday exposures to toxic and unnecessary chemicals currently used in everyday products and materials.
From the 2011 report mentioned above:
“Delegitimizing those with ES-MCS, who may be warning us all of the need for toxics reduction, also tends to impede development of practical, precautionary, potentially preventive and cost-saving public health strategies.”
Let’s hope this task force does the right thing for present and future generations.