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e-3229 (Health)

Initiated by Janet Willis from Victoria, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • Recent statistics indicate 50% to 80% of patients contracting COVID-19 will continue with symptoms many months past initial infection;
  • Tens of thousands of Canadians are experiencing ongoing symptoms serious enough to affect their livelihoods, overall health, and ability to function daily;
  • Ongoing symptoms can be serious and may include debilitating fatigue, damage to brain, heart, lungs, kidney or liver, depression, cognitive impairment, life threatening symptoms, and muscle weakness;
  • The Canada Recovery Benefit application requires individuals to seek work, but many with long COVID are unable to do so;
  • Many patients contracting COVID-19 during the first wave were denied testing and now are scrutinized, denied medical help, and blocked from research initiatives and rehabilitation; and
  • Without help, "Long Haulers" are likely to become chronically ill, creating a huge societal and economic crisis for Canada.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Recognize and label long COVID as a health syndrome;
2. Create a registry system for long COVID patients, include this data in Health Canada's daily case count, and consider these patients "Unrecovered" or "Not Infectious";
3. Swiftly fund robust, targeted research of COVID-19 and long COVID; and
4. Establish clinics for diagnosed long COVID patients, whether COVID-19 tested or not, to address medical, cognitive, psychological, rehabilitative and employment issues.

Response by the Minister of Health

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Jennifer O'Connell

The Government of Canada recognizes that many Canadians who were infected with the COVID-19 virus face a long recovery. While the evidence is building, there is still much that is unknown about “long COVID”, also called “Post COVID-19 condition”. The range of symptoms linked to this condition, their evolution post-infection, and their frequency among diverse subgroups of the Canadians population are still not well understood. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is actively working in collaboration with international and Canadian experts to advance the evidence base on the long-term impacts of COVID-19 required to inform effective public health actions.

Sound scientific evidence is key to addressing and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Government of Canada has invested over $250 million towards more than 400 COVID-19 research projects since March 2020. Some of these projects specifically focus on the long-term health impacts of COVID-19. CIHR has recently launched another funding competition to address research gaps in our knowledge of COVID-19, including on Post COVID-19 condition. This represents an additional investment of up to $119 million.

For example, CIHR is currently funding the Canadian COVID-19 Prospective Cohort Study, which will provide a comprehensive evaluation of early and medium term (1-year) outcomes in 2,000 patients with COVID-19 infection and their family caregivers. This study is underway in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. Such studies will yield important findings to inform surveillance efforts, as well as public health action and clinical practice.

PHAC has established a number of new surveillance efforts in the context of the pandemic to guide public health measures, including on the wider health impacts of COVID-19. Surveillance of the wider health impacts includes monitoring mental health, substance use, chronic disease, and other adverse outcomes directly or indirectly linked to the pandemic and public health measures. For example, new surveys have been undertaken by PHAC in collaboration with Statistics Canada to better understand the mental health of Canadians during the pandemic.

Although long COVID has been recognized and labelled by a number of organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), there is currently no agreed upon clinical case definition of Post COVID-19 condition. Therefore, the evidence base necessary to inform appropriate methodologies for routine monitoring and reporting activities is currently lacking.  PHAC and CIHR are currently collaborating with Canadian and international experts to further describe and assess Post COVID-19 condition in the Canadian population by exploring various data sources, assessing current research findings to inform approaches and definitions, and monitoring and reporting efforts. CIHR is also a member of the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R), an alliance of research funding organizations on a global scale that facilitates rapid end effective research response to support new, urgent scientific priorities related to COVID-19.

The Provinces and Territories are responsible for the management and delivery of health care services for their residents, including the rehabilitation and treatment services for people with long COVID. Clinics for care of patients with symptoms consistent with long COVID have been established in different locations across Canada, including Calgary’s Rockyview General Hospital and Peter Lougheed Centre, Montreal’s Clinical Research Institute, and Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital.

Open for signature
March 3, 2021, at 1:36 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
April 2, 2021, at 1:36 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
April 13, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00771)
Government response tabled
May 27, 2021
Photo - Elizabeth May
Saanich—Gulf Islands
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia