Thank you so much for the question.
When you talk about the cost, not only is it the cost of treating Lyme disease, whether it's a 10-day course or a nine-month course, but add up the costs of misdiagnosis, of putting people on treatments for diseases they don't have. You're not only setting back the health of the patient who is misdiagnosed, but that's also a very significant cost to our health care system, which is why the economic costs of Lyme disease form part of the surveillance program that Bill C-442 would put in place.
I've been very gratified—and I thank you for the question, Terence—by the fact that the Canadian Medical Association is absolutely in support of the bill. The letter will be shared so you'll all have it in detail. They support the implementation of a national strategy or federal framework because they believe that we need “to address the breadth of public health and medical issues surrounding the spread of Lyme disease in Canada”. They regard it as a new infectious disease threat. They're looking at in a very holistic way, looking at the various ways in which the bill will help patients.
The College of Family Physicians of Canada likewise wants to make sure that their representative on the Public Health Agency steering committee will help develop practice guidelines on Lyme disease. This is the medical community itself saying, “It's hard to diagnose. We need practice guidelines. We want to work with you. We want to make this happen.”
As I said, there's been a barrier around it, and I think there's a substantial attitudinal change happening. People used to say, “There isn't Lyme disease in Canada”, or “There isn't Lyme disease in my province”, or “We don't get Lyme disease on Vancouver Island.” These are all things that patients have told me they've heard. Now there's such clear evidence that it's spreading and we do have this illness in all parts of southern Canada that I've heard of.
So the medical community is supportive. I know the Medical Association of Canada would have provided a witness to the hearings on Bill C-442, but just due to timing they're not able to be here in person. But they do plan to submit a brief, and I'm grateful for the chance to mention that.