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The Lung Association – Ontario Board Member, Donna Cansfield, MPP Kathryn McGarry, MPP Ted McMeekin, MPP France Gélinas and The Lung Association – Ontario President and CEO, George Habib at Queens Park to celebrate the establishment of The Ontario Lung Health Consultation Group.
The Ontario Lung Health Act
Lung disease affects millions of Ontarians – not just the 2.4 million people who live with a chronic respiratory illness, but also the millions more who love and care for them. For the past 10 years, The Lung Association and its partners have been calling on the Government of Ontario to establish a Lung Health Action Plan in order to properly and effectively address lung disease in the province. Of the four chronic diseases responsible for 79 per cent of deaths (cancers, cardiovascular diseases, lung disease and diabetes) lung disease has been the only one without a dedicated province-wide strategy – until now.
Inspired by what this action plan represents, the three political parties of the Ontario Legislature came together in a demonstration of true non-partisanship and commitment to the health of Ontarians, and reached an agreement to pass Bill 71, Lung Health Act, in the final days of the fall 2017 legislative session.
On Tuesday, December 12th in the Ontario Legislature, Bill 71 was passed by unanimous consent, and on Thursday, December 14th the Bill received Royal Assent from the Lieutenant Governor, officially enacting into law The Ontario Lung Health Advisory Council.
This group will be dedicated to providing provincially-based advice and recommendations on lung health to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to make improvements in lung health awareness, diagnosis, treatment and care. Its goal will be to work towards the development and implementation of an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan that will provide a coordinated approach to prevent lung disease, improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare spending.
Your Lungs, Your Life, a report produced by The Lung Association, estimated that lung disease cost taxpayers approximately $4 billion in 2011. By 2015 that estimate grew to more than $27 billion in direct and indirect healthcare costs. Perhaps what is most troubling is that that cost is expected to balloon to more than $76 billion by 2021, which represents an astonishing estimated 1800 per cent increase in cost over a 10 year period.
While the Lung Health Act itself is now confirmed, much work still remains. Over the coming months, we will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care on the development of the Advisory Council and its structure, and look forward to sharing more information with you as it becomes available.
Our collective breathing future has just became much brighter. Thank you to the members of the Lung Health Caucus, members of our professional societies, our donors, partners, volunteers and staff for all of your support in getting us to where we are today. With you by our side, we are helping even more Ontarians breathe.