NDP MPP for Kenora-Rainy River, Sarah Campbell, blasted Premier Kathleen Wynne for failing to take any action to protect people and families in Kenora and Northwestern Ontario from Lyme disease, after a study showed eight species of ticks carrying the Lyme disease bacterium were found in the Kenora area, an area previous identified as having the highest infection prevalence rates in Canada.
“This research is a bombshell for people living in the Northwest and despite its author sending a copy to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care last November, the government has not even so much as notified the public about it,” Campbell said.
“People in Kenora and across the northwest are worried about contracting Lyme disease. And too many are already suffering with the debilitating disease.
“Why is this government not acting on a health crisis that is greatly affecting northerners?”
After a 10-year tick-host study conducted across Ontario revealed that Corkscrew Island, located 20 kilometres southwest of Kenora, has the highest infection prevalence of Lyme disease ever reported in Canada, a research study last year determined that Lyme disease was found in eight species of ticks, with 41 per cent testing positive for Lyme, a disease with no cure.
“What we already know about chronic Lyme disease is that it is a horrific disease, with the potential to affect every system in the body and can result in paralysis,” Campbell said. “The problem is that this government doesn't have a strategy in place to treat Lyme disease.”
Nearly three years ago, in 2014, the Ontario legislature passed a motion from the NDP MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin calling on the Wynne government to create a comprehensive and integrated Lyme disease strategy for Ontario. But it still hasn’t happened.
“The risk of Lyme disease is potentially at crisis levels in Kenora. When is this government going to develop not just an awareness plan, but a concrete and robust strategy on Lyme disease to protect the people of northwestern Ontario – and protect families across this province?” Campbell said.