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An Open Letter to Ontario’s Political Leadership – Please Help Ontarians Breathe

May 29, 2017

TORONTO, May 29, 2017 – We’ve been holding our breath for far too long. And now, because of political gamesmanship, the one in five Ontarians who struggle to breathe may be forced to hold their collective breath that much longer. And the tough part is – we’re closer now than ever before in giving them the hope they deserve.

This past November, the Lung Health Act was introduced by MPPs McMeekin, Yurek, and Gélinas, calling for the establishment of a Lung Health Advisory Council and the development of a Lung Health Action Plan that would provide a coordinated approach to how lung disease is prevented, managed and treated in Ontario.

A tripartite Private Members Bill, this represented the very finest of the political process – when parties and elected officials can put aside their differences to come together in the best interests of the people of Ontario.

This approach continued as the three sponsors of the Lung Health Act and their colleagues worked to accelerate the bill through second reading in record time.

Sadly, despite the tireless passion and commitment of MPPs McMeekin, Yurek, Gélinas and many others, their efforts to have Bill 71 enacted before the House rises on June 1st have fallen victim to internal political strife.

At issue is the unknown business of how the House Leaders are negotiating year-end Private Members Business (PMB) matters. As we all know very well, prior to the Legislature breaking for recess there is negotiating amongst the three political parties on House business, including which PMBs to move forward. This is where we are hearing of gamesmanship being played.

We obviously do not hold any one person or party responsible, but call into question a process that can hold up legislation, be it Bill 71 that would help Ontarians who struggle to breathe, or one of the many other worthy PMBs on the order docket.

When the House rises in June, and you and your colleagues return to communities across Ontario, we hope that you will be able to look your constituents in the eye and tell them that you put them first; that you are committed to more timely and equitable access to the treatments and supports that will improve their quality of life and save their lives; and that you will be working towards better policies to protect their breathing, and the breathing future of generations to come.

On behalf of the 2.8 million Ontarians who have difficulty taking their 22,000 breaths each day – and millions more in the family and friends that care for them – we plead with you to put aside your differences. Act in the best interests of your constituents and of all Ontarians.

Let them know that you have helped make Bill 71 a reality.

The Lung Association – Ontario

The Lung Health Act

Despite the ever-increasing human and economic burden of respiratory illness in Ontario, lung disease lacks a dedicated province-wide strategy.

The Lung Health Act provides a much-needed blueprint for a coordinated approach to prevent lung disease, save health-care dollars, improve patient outcomes and save lives.

Among the Bill’s recommended priority actions:

  • Establish a Lung Health Advisory Council that will make recommendations to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care on lung health issues;
  • Develop and implement an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan respecting research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of lung disease; and
  • Require the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to consider the recommendations and reports of the Lung health Advisory Council to make improvements in lung health awareness, diagnosis, treatment and care.

The proposed Ontario Lung Health Action Plan, drafted by The Lung Association in consultation with more than 60 stakeholders, provides solutions from prevention through to early identification, treatment, policies and research. The recommendations in the plan align strongly with the mandate of the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care – increasing access to care for those who need it most through Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care.

The Lung Association – Ontario

Breathing. It’s what unites us. It’s what inspires us. And it’s what keeps us pushing ahead, whether it’s searching for cures to lung diseases, helping people to quit smoking and ensuring that children never start, or fighting for clean air.

The Lung Association is the leading organization working to promote lung health and prevent and manage lung disease. We do this by funding vital research, pushing for improved treatments and better policies, and helping people manage their health. We empower Ontarians to breathe.


Chris Yaccato,
Government Relations & Public Affairs Manager
The Lung Association