Parliament to Study Environmental
lobbying effort led by the Environmental Illness Society of Canada (EISC)
and its sister organizations, including the NSAEHA, has resulted in a political
breakthrough in recognition of environmental illness in Canada.
In May, a
private member’s bill introduced by Liberal back bencher Mac Harb went
before the House of Commons. Motion M-468 read, “That, in the opinion
of this House, the government should recognize (a) multiple chemical sensitivity,
chronic fatigue syndrome, and firbomyalgia as illnesses that have the capacity
to cause disability; and (b) those suffering the disabling aspect of these
diseases require protection and a strong moral commitment to their well-being.”
Harb had the
support of his party, and the motion also received support from the NDP,
the Bloc Populaire, the PCs and Grant Hill, Reform Health Critic.
On May 27
the motion went to a subcommittee of the House Affairs and Procedures Committee.
In the subcommittee, whose minutes are not published, Reform MP Deborah
Gray argued that M-468 was not a voteable motion, although it could be
debated. She contended that it would create new expenses. House
rules state that no new money can be spent as a result of private member’s
motions. Supporters of M-468 believe it involved no new money, merely
equitable access to existing programs. (Ironically, only a few months
later, Gray demanded that the Gulf War Veterans suffering from environmental
illness should have recognition and access to programs and pensions.)
At the end
of the debate a new motion was put forward and adopted unanimously, referring
the matter of CFS-FM-MCS to the Standing House Committee of Health for
EISC President, was elated with the results. “We didn’t get the original
motion passed, but we have already accomplished our next objective, which
was to get the matter to the Standing Committee on Health. We wanted
this issue on the national agenda. Now it is.”
Committee must make a report to the House of Commons, and the House must
respond to the report.
and related provincial organizations are already planning submissions to
the Standing Committee. They plan to look at a broad range of issues
relating to CFS-FM-MSC including schooling, pensions, safe work place,
accommodations, women with disabilities, testing and treatment, support
for family units and respite facilities. They hope that individuals
making input to the Committee will either make their submissions through
the EISC or its sister organizations, or copy any submission to the EISC.
House Committee Chair is Joe Volpe, MP.
are that CFS-FM-MCS afflict between 6-15 per cent of Canadians. Six
per cent of Canadians are reported to experience allergy and sensitivity
reactions every day. Of these, 1-2 per cent are severely debilitated
and are unable to work or even leave their homes.