Federal Framework on Lyme Disease Act

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all those who supported my bill. We can accomplish a lot when we work together in a non-partisan way.

I would particularly like to thank the Minister of Health, who supported this bill. She shared her opinions and was extraordinarily understanding. I also want to thank her team.

I have to thank, in particular, the member for Honoré-Mercier, because, in the spirit of non-partisanship, she gave up her slot today, June 11, so that this bill, which has received such widespread support from all corners of the House, could proceed through report stage, third reading, and make its way to the Senate. I am very grateful that Senator Janis Johnson is prepared to take it forward so that we can get this help to the people who need it most.

All members in this place are now much more familiar than they were with the threat of Lyme disease. This bill will not solve all our problems, but it will take us a long way forward. So many members spoke passionately in this place about the importance of the bill. I want to particularly thank members on all sides of the House. The hon. member for South Shore—St. Margaret’s gave a passionate speech about the difficulties of diagnosis and what he sees happening in Nova Scotia. My friend, the hon. member for Victoria, talked about our friend who lives in his riding but works with me, Chris Powell and her daughter Nicole Bottles, who testified in committee.

The hon. member for St. Paul’s gave me time in committee so I could ask questions, which I otherwise could not have done. There have been so many acts of kindness. It is unusual for a private member’s bill to have been seconded initially by the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North with the Green Party, seconded at the next stage by the hon. member for Oakville, a Conservative, who has himself stood on an important issue in Bill C-17, which I hope we can also pass expeditiously, Vanessa’s law. Today I am honoured that the health critic for the official opposition, the hon. member for Vancouver East, would be my seconder.

I also want to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health for her help. I know I will forget people as I keep thanking everyone. The hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie offered early help and support. Everybody on all sides of the House, including the health critic for the Liberal Party, have been unstinting in their willingness to help the bill pass, to get through amendments and clause-by-clause in committee. This bill is now called a federal framework on Lyme disease. It has the support, as I have said, of Health Canada.

I will share with the House things that I did not know when I first put this bill forward at first reading almost two years ago exactly. The Public Health Agency of the Government of Canada testified before the health committee that this is one of the fastest-growing infectious diseases in Canada. The evidence from the federal Public Health Agency is that it thinks by the year 2020 Canada could be experiencing 10,000 new cases of Lyme disease every year.

Every step we take in 2014 to put in place national approaches that work federally, provincially, and territorially for better education and better prevention so that people can avoid getting Lyme disease in the first place by knowing what to look for, by avoiding ticks, moving to better diagnoses, working with the doctors across this country, is crucial. The support of the Canadian Medical Association for this bill, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation has been absolutely essential. All of these expert bodies recognize that this is a very complicated disease, very difficult to diagnose, and that we should no longer stand for any one of our friends, neighbours, or relatives to have to go to the United States for expensive treatment.

We do not want to hear any more stories from our own constituents who had to sell their homes to be able to afford the treatment that we can provide here in Canada through a federal framework on Lyme disease. Ultimately, we need much better research. I have mentioned a couple of times how indebted I am to the hon. Minister of Health. Funds have been put in place by Health Canada without being tied to this bill, because, of course, a private member’s bill cannot put forward funds.

I will close now with the most deep and heartfelt thanks to all in this place tonight and every day. God bless them.