MPP Mike Harris Questions Health Minister Frances Lankin.; 1992.
On 5 March 2010, Ms Lankin was asked the following questions concerning the attached document: Since you were health minister, and because of the same positions you took in answering Mr. Harris's questions, more than 30,000 persons with (mostly undiagnosed) environmental sensitivities have been unnecessarily killed in Ontario health care. Thousands have been excluded from the normal activities of life. Professional reputations and careers have been ruined. Families have broken up. There have been many suicides of persons with diagnosed sensitivities, and many more suicides of persons with central nervous system sequelae who have been ploughed under by abuse that was enabled by your and others' equivocation. In your answer to Mr. Harris's questions, you say that environmental sensitivities "is a very difficult disease to deal with." In fact, avoidance has been the prescribed method of dealing with sensitivities since Abu Bakr Mohammad Ibn Zakariya al-Razi advised a patient so in 10th Century Baghdad. It is the method advised by Benjamin Rush in 1812, and by Thomas Story Kirkbride in 1880. Avoidance was advised in the Ontario Ministry of Health's 1985 Report of the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on Environmental Hypersensitivity Disorders (note plural), by Thomson et al, and in articles dating back a century in bibliogeaphy's in the Toronto Board of Education's 1985 "Pollution and Education," and Health and Welfare's 1987 "Healthy Envronments for Canadians" It is identified in the Psychiatric Journal of the University of Ottawa, in 1980. All of these studies were available within the Ontario Ministry of Health at the time. In 1989, three years before your answer, Finance Canada began giving tax deductions for prescribed environnmental changes designed to facilitate avoidance in the homes of persons with sensitivities. In 1990, CMHC started researching appopriate housing for people with sensitivities. Your office was informed of these actions and the above reports long before you answered Mr. Harris's questions. Question 1: Why would you suggest that sensitivities were difficult to deal with, when avoidance was the recognized method of managing sensitivities for at least 1,000 years, is described in 300 years of western medical literature, more than 100 years in Canadian and US literature, and by generations of patient experience? In addition to the abovementioned means of managing sensitivities that were available in 1992, it was also known to the Ministry of Health when you answered your question that sensitivities were not a specific disease, but were, rather, sometimes disabling symptoms caused by a "compendium of disorders," as a Health and Welfare chronic disease epidemiologist described them in 1992. Question 2: Why would you refer to sensitivities as "a very difficult disease" when so many parties had pointed out that sensitivities were not caused by a specific disease, contrary to the assertions of clinical ecologists? You state that "it is not a recognized disease among the medical profession" when, in fact, the Ontario Medical Association had acknowledged the health complaint, written to Premier Peterson's office in support of persons withs sensitivities, although they did not confuse the issue by pretending that sensitivities were a specific disease that could be recognised or not. Health and Welfare sponsored a conference in 1990 and distributed materials encouraging action by provincial agencies. The Thomson Report had warned against confusing the issue by confusing debate about a specific disease proposed by "clinical ecologists" with the legitimacy of the diversity of health complaints of patients. The subsequent 1986 Ontario Ministry of Health Report of the Advisory Panel on Environmental Hypersensitivity, by Zimmerman et al, also warned against confusing debate about the ideas of clinical ecologists with the legitimacy of patients' needs. It had been known for centuries that sensitivities were not the result of a single disease, and debate about the possibility of a single disease causing sensitivities was a red herring. Many parties had pointed this out in the century before 1992. In fact, the word "allergy" once referred to this broad category of disorders, until the meaning of that word narrowed after the discovery, in 1967, of IgE mediated reactions. Question 3: Why did you confuse debate about the assertions of doctors of environmental medicine with the reality of sensitivities as known to medicine for centuries? Why did you ignore the many books and reports referred to by Mr. Harris? Throughout the time of the Bob Rae government, despite input from the OHRC, the OMA, even from several Ministers outside of Health, Ministers of Health continued to eclipse the actual history and reality of persons with sensitivities behind what Thomson has called "a legitimate but separate debate" about clinical ecology and so-called "doctors of environmental medicine?" You stated, "I hope to follow up on that by bringing together a group, including consumers, to talk about specific initiatives that may be helpful to Marilyn and to others who are suffering from this particular set of immune deficiencies and environmental sensitivities." Question 4: Why did you ignore input from the Ottawa Branch of the Allergy and Environmental Health Association, including documentation on the points listed above? Why did you continue to confuse debate about the assertions of clinical ecology with the concerns, needs and rights of persons with sensitivities? You state: "Since the Thomson report of 1985, there has been continued research and there is developing opinion on this. In fact, that developing opinion contradicts some of the recommendations that were made in that report in 1985." Question 5: What research or developing opinion contradicted which recommendations of the Thomson report? What subsequent opinion suggested that persons with sensitivities are not healthier and less disabled if they avoid substances or other phenomena to which they are sensitive? How was this contradictory opinion backed up by research? The Thomson report identified an existing, publcily insured, means of diagnosis. None of any subsequent opinion removed the existing method of diagnosis from the OHIP schedule of fees, a method that has been expanded and is promoted by the College of Family Physicians of Ontario. Question 6: Why did you feel further discussion would be necessary before advocating avoidance or acknowledging the existing method of diagnosis? When there was a method of diagnosis, and when avoidance is the method of managing sensitivities, what other discussion is necessary to provide persons with sensitivities with appropriate health care, housing that accommodates their disability, and so on? Question 7: When there is a publicly insured method of diagnosis, and when avoidance was, for centuries, the agreed on method of managing sensitivities, why were you equivocating concerning the needs of persons with sensitivities? Question 8: What work has the Toronto United Way supported to reduce the unnecessary killing of persons with sensitivities in health care, or to address their housing or many other socio-economic needs during your time there?