Ontario Announces the Task Force on Environmental Health

The Government of the Province of Ontario, specifically the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) finally announced the establishment of a Task Force on Environmental Health.

Let’s hope this new project creates the long overdue and effective changes and access to basic services that are needed by people with environmentally linked, disabling,  chronic health conditions like MCS/ES, unlike the 1985 project which created a  600+ page report with recommendations that were largely ignored (see links below), which allowed these and other problems to fester and increase in severity and magnitude.

Ontario Task Force 2016

The news release about the new task force follows:

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) has announced the establishment of 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 consists of 15 members appointed by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, of which 1/3 are patients or caregivers. The Task Force has a term of up to three years beginning in 2016 and ending in 2019. The Task Force members are:

  • Howard Hu (Chair), Dean, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
  • Neil Stuart (Vice-Chair), Health Care Consultant
  • Bill Manson, Senior Director, Performance Management, Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network
  • Cornelia Baines, Professor Emerita, Dalla Lana Faculty of Public Health, University of Toronto
  • Denise Magi, Vice-President, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario
  • Dona Bowers, Physician, Somerset West Community Health Centre
  • Izzat Jiwani, 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, Standards Development Branch, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
  • Maureen MacQuarrie, person with lived experience
  • Mike Ford, person with lived experience
  • Nancy Sikich, Director, Health Technology Assessment, Health Quality Ontario
  • Sharron Ellis, person with lived experience
  • Varda Burstyn, person with lived experience

Secretariat support for the Task Force is provided by the MOHLTC. Regular updates will be provided to interested stakeholders.

For more information or to receive regular updates please contact TFEH@ontario.ca.

Current project history can be found on the Recognition, Inclusion and Equity website

1984 – 1985

“In Ontario, after carefully reviewing the available evidence on ES-MCS in 1984, both published and revealed in interviews and focus groups, the Ad Hoc Committee on Environmental Hypersensitivity Disorders, appointed by the then Ontario Minister of Health, Keith Norton, and chaired by Judge George M. Thomson, concluded that there was sufficient evidence that environmental hypersensitivity was a health problem that needed to be addressed, and recommended funding of a collaborating university research program and academically-affiliated provincial clinic to fill the scientific and service gaps (Thomson GM, Chair. Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Environmental Hypersensitivity Disorders to the Ontario Ministry of Health, 1985).”

Environmental Sensitivities-Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Status Report (PDF)
Advances in Knowledge, and Current Service Gaps (2011)
Environmental Health Clinic Women’s College Hospital, Toronto

1985 – 2006

Report of the ad hoc Committee on Environmental Hypersensitivity Disorders
Thomson recommendations (1985) and progress to 2006 can be found in the CHRC (PDF) Report

The Medical Perspective on Environmental Sensitivities
Sears 2007

If the 1985 report recommendations been taken seriously, it is likely that many childhood allergies, learning difficulties, cancers, reproductive problems, and numerous other types of chronic and costly health problems currently linked to pollutants could have been prevented, along with the suffering of  hundreds of thousands of people who are disabled from everyday exposures to toxic and unnecessary chemicals currently used in everyday products and materials.

From the 2011 report mentioned above:

“Delegitimizing those with ES-MCS, who may be warning us all of the need for toxics reduction, also tends to impede development of practical, precautionary, potentially preventive and cost-saving public health strategies.”

Let’s hope this task force does the right thing for present and future generations.


9 responses to “Ontario Announces the Task Force on Environmental Health

  1. This is great long over due news, way to go again Ontario. Hoping it’s contagious and spreads West as it is here we have nothing at all, scary place for one suffering such conditions,however due to ”cold allergy” and ”cold triggered asthma ” I am stuck here without any supports on environmental treatments.No supports or recognition of environmental Illness .No ME or CFS groups either. If some would complain perhaps at least a support group at least.. Thanks for this great update. Be Well.

  2. New blog post from Dr Molot:

    We win some and we lose some, but we’re winning the fight!


    In it, he links to an old post:

    The Facts About Multiple Chemical Sensitivity


    It’s an excellent post with several good resources linked.

    BUT there is an omission regarding the WHO. It was not the WHO who came up with or endorsed the term IEI. It was the chemical industry:

    “One of the more outrageous claims that the chemical industry and its associates make is that the World Health Organization (WHO) supports the name change from MCS to IEI. The WHO was one of the sponsors of an International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPSC) workshop on MCS held in Germany in February 1996.

    This workshop was dominated by industry-associated participants and had no representatives from environmental, labor, or consumer groups. Instead, the non-governmental participants were individuals employed by BASF, Bayer, Monsanto, and Coca Cola (43).

    It was at this meeting that the decision was made to try to change the name of MCS to IEI….

    In any case, the WHO issued a statement to the workshop participants after the meeting to try to put a stop to claims that WHO supported the name change from MCS to IEI.

    It stated that “A workshop report to WHO, with conclusions and recommendations, presents the opinions of the invited experts and does not necessarily represent the decision or the stated policy of WHO.”

    It goes on to say that “with respect to ‘MCS,’ WHO has neither adopted nor endorsed a policy or scientific opinion” (45).

    Despite this explicit disclaimer, claims that the World Health Organization supports IEI continue to be made by MCS opponents.”

    ~ “MCS Under Siege” by Ann McCampbell, MD
    Published in Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, January 2001, Issue #210



    Ashford and Miller wrote about IEI and the 1996 World Health Organization workshop on MCS too:

    “The four “NGO representatives” were full-time employees of BASF, Bayer, Monsanto, and Coca Cola, the first three of which claimed affiliation with an industry-funded science institute (the European Centre for Environment and Toxicology).’

    Ronald Gots, director of the Environmental Sensitivities Research Institute, whose members included DowElanco, Monsanto, Procter and Gamble, and the Cosmetic Toiletries and Fragrances Association, was a participant and ‘was also invited to give the “U.S. perspective” on MCS’.

    Various outside “observers”, some of whom were involved in a lawsuit about “wood preservative syndrome”, were involved in drafting and possibly voting on the recommendations.

    After certain participants wrongly claimed that IEI was now WHO’s official name for MCS and IPCS received a letter of protest from 80 prominent U.S. scientists and physicians, ‘IPCS clarified the status of the IEI name by issuing a notice stating that WHO had “neither adopted nor endorsed a policy or scientific opinion on MCS.”’

    The report now contains disclaimers, including ‘that the document does not necessarily represent the decisions or stated policy of UNEP, ILO, or WHO, that it does not constitute a formal publication; and that it should not be reviewed, abstracted or quoted without the written permission of the Director of the IPCS.”

    ~ Ashford and Miller, Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes p. 279-284


  3. For those who like history and want to see evidence of the genocide that is occurring, here’s the 1985 report, and the site is full of other historical tidbits.
    “They” know we’re here, they know what we need, yet they have been making sure we don’t get it.


  4. Pingback: Ontario Reported on MCS/ES in 1985, Yet… | Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution

  5. Why would we are should we expect anything different?

    Am I to understand this task force will present their findings at the end of 3 years with no help during their time of study?

    3 years is a very long time when your health is failing.

  6. Not to be argumentative but if they could not manage those problems in 1985 what has changed? More people sick some with more severe illnesses more science I guess. I hope there is a reason to be hopeful. I guess we are at their mercy as always.
    I read part of 12,000 Canaries Can’t be Wrong by John Molot. Chapter 23 on the politics of medicine certainly left me feeling skeptical.
    One short term benefit would be to educate doctors wide scale so when a person tells the doc smells are making me really sick some help could be found before it gets worse.
    As far as I have seen so far ( I am newly dx) their is not much help but learning how to avoid and how to detox some at least could be helpful.
    I had trouble with smells 10 years ago and mentioned it docs who had no response. Now I have a movement disorder and am newly dx… after a 2 year wait on the list.
    I would think had I know a few simple things sooner maybe I could have slowed the progression of this disorder…maybe.

    • I’m not any good at playing politics and have no idea how they will overcome the industry barriers and address these issues in a way that truly helps people.

      I can’t see all the other comments from this page, so hopefully am not repeating myself…

      Dr Stephen Genuis wrote this a couple of years ago:

      Pandemic of idiopathic multimorbidity

      “Despite the entertaining educational soiree with my colleagues, I wondered whether industry-sponsored medical education was the best means to keep physicians apprised of emerging scientific information. If this approach to knowledge translation and the historical pendulum from research to clinical practice continue, we can expect it will take the usual 1 to 2 generations before health practitioners are familiar with the documented pathophysiological mechanisms and restorative approach to many cases of multimorbidity. If so, countless individuals with apparently inexplicable multisystem complaints will needlessly suffer and receive an incorrect label of being psychiatrically disordered. By the end of the evening, 3 things were evident: that the pandemic of idiopathic multimorbidity was real, that health care costs were escalating, and that the share price of antidepressant manufacturers would likely continue north for years to come.”


      Dr Molot has a blog and he wrote about progress and setbacks earlier in the year.


      And here’s a couple of approximately 10 minute videos from a presentation Dr Molot did earlier in 2016 where he does discuss some of these issues:

      New videos with Dr. John Molot from Action CIND.

      Part 1:

      Part 2:

  7. Pingback: MCS/ES 2017 Continued: The Canaries Are Still Waiting! | Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution

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