Task Force on Environmental Health

Many Ontarians live with conditions triggered by environmental factors that are difficult to diagnose and treat.

These conditions may include:

  • Environmental Sensitivities/Multiple Chemical Sensitivity;
  • Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; and
  • Fibromyalgia.

People diagnosed with these types of conditions face challenges in their experiences as patients, from diagnosis to treatment to living with the long-term impacts. People also suffer from stigmatization in clinical settings, the workplace and other areas of their lives as a result of a general lack of understanding of these complex conditions.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) established a Task Force on Environmental Health to provide recommendations and advice to:

  • inform possible guidelines and policies to support patients with conditions triggered by environmental factors;
  • increase public and health care providers' knowledge of health conditions triggered by environmental factors;
  • identify gaps in evidence, knowledge transfer and care for those affected by these conditions; and
  • identify patient-focused actions to improve health outcomes of affected patients.

The Task Force consisted of members appointed by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, of which 1/3 were patients or caregivers. The Task Force had a term of up to three years beginning in 2016 and ending in 2019. The Task Force members were:

  • Ray Copes (Chair), Chief, Environmental and Occupational Health, Public Health Ontario
  • Neil Stuart (Vice-Chair), Health Care Consultant
  • Christine Oliver, Physician and President, Occupational Health Initiatives
  • Cornelia Baines, Professor Emerita, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
  • Denise Magi, President, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario
  • Howard Hu, Professor of Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Global Health and Medicine, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
  • Izzat Jiwani, Canadian and international health/social policy researcher, person with lived experience
  • Joanne Plaxton, Director, Health Equity Branch, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
  • John Molot, Staff Physician and Medical/Legal Liaison, Environmental Health Clinic, Women's College Hospital
  • Julie Schroeder, Technical Assessment and Standards Development Branch, Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
  • Maureen MacQuarrie, former lawyer, policy adviser, volunteer, person with lived experience
  • Mike Ford, civics and environmental studies educator, consultant, caregiver, person with lived experience
  • Nancy Sikich, Director, Health Technology Assessment, Health Quality Ontario
  • Sharron Ellis, person with lived experience

Secretariat support for the Task Force was provided by the MOHLTC. The task force submitted an interim report to the MOHLTC in July 2017 and the final report in December 2018.

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