This March marks Ontario’s first ever Endometriosis Awareness Month following the passing of my private members' bill, Bill 58, the Endometriosis Awareness Month Act, 2021, in the legislature last December.
Raising public awareness of endometriosis is a key first step in helping people understand the condition and get the treatment they deserve, but there is much more left to be done to support people with endometriosis. The work must continue to ensure that people living with endometriosis have access to the right supports and care.
Endometriosis affects one in 10 women, trans and non-binary menstruators of reproductive age. This disease can cause debilitating conditions, including chronic pelvic pain, fatigue and infertility. It can also lead to the formation of lesions, cysts, nodules and other abnormal tissue growths.
Despite the health challenges caused by endometriosis, there are substantial diagnostic delays and barriers to clinical and surgical care. According to the Endometriosis Network of Canada, it takes approximately five to 11 years to be diagnosed due to a lack of public awareness. Once diagnosed, individuals in Canada can wait nine months to two years for specialised surgical and chronic pain care. Because there is no cure for endometriosis, those who suffer may also require lifelong follow up.
Research shows that living with endometriosis can translate to one or more missed school days per month for youth and a loss of 10 hours of productivity per week for adults – costing the Canadian economy $1.8 billion per year.
On behalf of all women, trans and non-binary menstruators who suffer from endometriosis, it's time to take the next steps to increase access to care. That's why I'm calling on the government of Ontario to deliver a provincial endometriosis action plan that reflects priorities and outcomes important to individuals with endometriosis and promotes and promotes:
- Comprehensive and earlier education about menstruation and ‘what is a normal period’ in our schools.
- Specific research on the causes and impacts of endometriosis, uterine fibroids and chronic pelvic pain on BIPOC communities;
- Equitable access to endometriosis diagnosis, management and care;
- Improved access to treatment and health care capacity building through a Centre for Excellence model.
We also need to address the painful backlog in surgeries that has grown during the pandemic, with a system-wide infusion of funding, as the Ontario NDP has called for repeatedly.
On March 30, I tabled a motion in the legislature to build on the unanimous support that helped us formally recognize Endometriosis Awareness Month in Ontario. Together, we can ensure no one suffers alone from this debilitating disease.
Text of Motion 50:
That, in the opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should work in collaboration with Ontario's endometriosis community to establish a provincial action plan for endometriosis that reflects priorities and outcomes important to individuals with endometriosis and promotes: improved access to care through a Centre for Excellence model; increased awareness and education of health care providers and the public; and support for further research.
Help support this work, write your MPP and ask them to help pass Motion 50 before the end of this legislative session.