Mr. Wayne Gates: Just today I spoke with another constituent who has a bill right now totaling $50,000 for treatment he has received in Florida. He pays $3,000 a week in medical bills, plus what it costs to live down there. He has to leave his family, his friends and his job just to try to get treatment so he can function in his daily life. He told my office that the last year of his life has been wasted trying to find a diagnosis for this disease. Think about that. He couldn’t get one here in Canada and Ontario. Now he flies to Florida to receive treatment for Lyme disease.
Mr. Speaker, what’s even more troubling is that when we contacted him, he already knew-when I talked to him today, he already knew-of three other people in the city of Niagara Falls who have Lyme disease and are getting treatment in New York state.
These are people who are being bankrupted by these treatments. Just think about the pain they must go through if they are willing to spend their entire life’s savings to go into debt just to get treatment. I thought we came to the conclusion a long time ago that no one in the province of Ontario should have to choose between good health and poverty.
These are employed people, too-people with good jobs. Imagine what it would be like to be on social assistance or to be unemployed with Lyme disease. You would never be able to go and get treatment. I have no doubt in my mind that if the people I’ve spoken with so far are coming to my office, there are people living below the poverty line with the disease who can’t afford to get treatment.
When you have the symptoms of Lyme disease, you can expect to spend weeks, if not months, in and out of the hospital, trying to figure out what is wrong with you. Our medical testing is falling behind. It’s frustrating already sick people. The only reason people keep coming back to the doctor instead of giving up is because of how hard it is to live with the disease. These are people living in Ontario who need medical help.