The project for the OCEEH goes on-line; health minister announces recognition and action on previously excluded health conditions of ES/MCS, ME/CFS AND FM
TORONTO – March 5, 2015. Today a new health initiative – the campaign for an Ontario Centre of Excellence in Environmental Health (OCEEH) – goes online. This is a result of over six years of organizing, research, reports, business case writing and negotiations with Ontario’s provincial government. Please visit: recognitioninclusionandequity.org
The focus of the OCEEH campaign will be to support the more than 568,000 people living in Ontario who have been diagnosed with the environmentally linked disorders of ES/MCS (environmental sensitivities/multiple chemical sensitivity), ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) and FM (fibromyalgia). Ontario’s health care system has excluded these people from the recognition, services, research and education they need.
This momentous step follows the funding of two medical fellowships in environmental medicine last spring through the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine and an historic announcement on Nov. 5 2014 at Queen’s Park. MPP John Fraser on behalf of Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long Term Care, Dr. Eric Hoskins, said:
“We recognize that it is time to bring issues related to the environment and health out of the shadows, and to shine a light on the experiences of people living with environmental health conditions in our system. Our government is committed to raising the bar on environmental health.”
Mr. Fraser then announced that the business case proposal for an Ontario Centre of Excellence in Environmental Health (submitted by the collaborative of expert patient advocates, physicians and other health care providers in November 2013) will serve as the platform for action going forward. The first step toward this implementation would be the establishment of an interministerial committee that would refine items in the business case proposal. At this meeting, the community of those living with the conditions, and the OCEEH Interim Steering committee pledged to work with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) to get to Phase 1 of implementation by May 12, 2015.
MPPs from all three parties also made strong statements of support in the legislature for key actions to end the long neglect of people with these disorders. This included Minister for Children, Youth Services and Women Tracy MacCharles, Liberal Joe Dickson, and PC Bill Walker representing Christine Elliot.
OCEEH PROJECT: “FUNDING IS THE LITMUS TEST.”
OCEEH co-chair John Doherty, who spoke following Mr. Fraser, welcomed the declaration of recognition.
“Although recognition of these disabling conditions has been on the human rights commission’s books since 2007, it has not prompted the creation of health services, disability rights or social supports. As a result, the province has been spending over $150 million a year in inappropriate physician services and sufferers have still been left without care.”
After the meeting Doherty commented, “The fact that Minister Hoskins, who is also a physician, has officially recognized and is acting on this business case proposal is an important step. This recognition moves us closer to inclusion and health equity for people with these conditions. Timely funding will be the litmus test of this commitment and we are hoping that the government will move rapidly through a final period of implementation very soon.”
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