Assented to 2014-12-16
An Act respecting a Federal Framework on Lyme Disease
Whereas Lyme disease is an illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi that is spread to humans and animals through the bite of certain types of ticks and that can have serious consequences if left untreated, including recurring attacks of arthritis and neurological problems;
Whereas the risk of exposure to Lyme disease is highest in parts of southern and southeastern Quebec, southern and eastern Ontario, southeastern Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and much of southern British Columbia;
Whereas numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies have warned that a warming climate will expand the geographic range of Lyme disease-carrying ticks further into Canada, including a 2012 paper by Leighton et al., which states that over 80% of the population in Eastern and Central Canada could be living in areas at risk of Lyme disease by 2020;
Whereas, since 2009, Lyme disease has been a nationally reportable disease in Canada and all medical professionals must report cases of Lyme disease to their provincial public health authority, which in turn provides the data to the Public Health Agency of Canada;
Whereas Canadians will benefit from the establishment of guidelines regarding the prevention, identification, treatment and management of Lyme disease, a coordinated national effort to track the spread of the disease, and increased public education and awareness to better prevent and detect instances of Lyme disease in Canada;
Whereas recent research further demonstrates the persistence of Borrelia spirochetes after antibiotic treatment that follows the guidelines used in Canada (Embers et al., 2012) and indicates that current serology does not adequately describe the diversity of Borrelia bacteria existing in Canada and that the general understanding of, and practices for dealing with, Lyme disease are no longer sufficient or in line with emerging evidence of how the disease operates (Ogden et al., 2011);
Whereas the current guidelines in Canada are based on those in the United States and are so restrictive as to severely limit the diagnosis of acute Lyme disease and deny the existence of continuing infection, thus abandoning sick people with a treatable illness;
And whereas the 2010 report prepared for the Provincial Health Services Authority of British Columbia entitled Chronic Lyme Disease in British Columbia, A Review of Strategic and Policy Issues concluded that current diagnostic testing for Lyme disease is inadequate and advocated placing the highest priority on the development of reliable diagnostic testing for the disease and on educating physicians so they can recognize the symptoms of Lyme disease and treat patients in a manner that is medically appropriate, including treatment with antibiotics as justified;
Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:
Marginal note:Short title
2 The following definitions apply in this Act.
Agency means the Public Health Agency of Canada. (Agence)
federal framework means a framework to address the challenges of the recognition and timely diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease. (cadre fédéral)
Minister means the Minister of Health. (ministre)
provincial and territorial ministers
ministres provinciaux et territoriaux
provincial and territorial ministers means the provincial and territorial ministers responsible for health. (ministres provinciaux et territoriaux)
Federal Framework on Lyme Disease
3 The Minister must, no later than 12 months after the day on which this Act comes into force, convene a conference with the provincial and territorial ministers and stakeholders, including representatives of the medical community and patients’ groups, for the purpose of developing a comprehensive federal framework that includes
(a) the establishment of a national medical surveillance program to use data collected by the Agency to properly track incidence rates and the associated economic costs of Lyme disease;
(b) the establishment of guidelines regarding the prevention, identification, treatment and management of Lyme disease, and the sharing of best practices throughout Canada; and
(c) the creation and distribution of standardized educational materials related to Lyme disease, for use by any public health care provider within Canada, designed to increase national awareness about the disease and enhance its prevention, identification, treatment and management.
Marginal note:Preparation and publication of report
4 The Minister must prepare a report that sets out the federal framework and publish the report on the Agency’s website within one year after the federal framework referred to in section 3 is developed.
Marginal note:Report to Parliament
5 The Minister must cause a copy of the report referred to in section 4 to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first 90 days on which that House is sitting after the report has been published on the Agency’s website.
Review and Report
6 The Agency must
(a) complete a review of the effectiveness of the federal framework no later than five years after the day on which the report referred to in section 4 is published on the Agency’s website; and
(b) table a report on its findings before each House of Parliament within the next ten sitting days after the review is completed.
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