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Parliament backs Green party leader May’s bill on Lyme disease

Elizabeth May’s bill to develop a national framework around Lyme disease was unanimously passed in the House of Commons Wednesday — a rare feat for a private member, let alone the sole representative of a party.
Elizabeth May photo
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

Elizabeth May’s bill to develop a national framework around Lyme disease was unanimously passed in the House of Commons Wednesday — a rare feat for a private member, let alone the sole representative of a party.

“Extraordinary levels of non-partisan co-operation went into this,” the MP for Saanich Gulf-Islands and leader of the federal Green party said from Ottawa.

May noted the support of the minister of health, Rona Ambrose, and Conservative Sen. Janis Johnson, who will sponsor the bill in the Senate in the fall.

“As I said to my colleagues earlier, ‘We’ve done something good today for people who need our help.’ ”

Bill C-442, An Act respecting a Federal Framework on Lyme Disease, was introduced by May in 2012.

The act calls for a national strategy in public education, prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of Lyme disease.

“This is a very serious illness and issue that called out for a federal framework,” May said. She said she hopes that within the next year, a plan will developed by all levels of government and relevant advocacy groups.

Lyme disease is a tick-born infectious malady that can cause serious damage to the joints, heart and central nervous system if misdiagnosed or left untreated. If caught early, it is easily treated by antibiotics.

Over the past two years, May has presented many heart-rending stories of people affected by the disease. These include Saltspring Island’s Terri Bibby, who was not properly diagnosed and faced years of medical problems and bills, and many petitions from across the country.

May said one of the most compelling cases came from public health officials who said Lyme disease was one of the fastest-growing diseases and a public health concern.

spetrescu@timescolonist.com