March 28, 2023

Province must remove all barriers to investigation of neurodegenerative disease in younger New Brunswickers

FREDERICTON – At a press conference this morning, Green Party leader David Coon and Memramcook-Tantramar MLA Megan Mitton were joined by patients and families in New Brunswick who are suffering from atypical neurological decline to call on Health Minister Bruce Fitch to remove all barriers so that the Public Health Agency of Canada can launch an investigation into potential environmental causes of the high rate of neurodegenerative disease in younger New Brunswickers.

“Minister Fitch has a responsibility to remove all barriers so the experts at the Public Health Agency of Canada can determine if there is an environmental basis for this increase in neurodegenerative syndromes in New Brunswick,” said Mitton. “The panel of neurologists appointed by the province to review the cases did not rule this out. The patients and their families deserve no less, and New Brunswickers deserve to know if there are environmental factors involved or not.”

Over the past year Dr. Alier Marrero has been following 147 new cases of patients suffering from neurological symptoms, which includes 57 early-onset cases and 41 young-onset cases. Dr. Marrero raised concerns about the unexpectedly high number of early-onset or young-onset progressive neurological syndromes in a letter dated January 30, 2023 to Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, New Brunswick’s Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Yves Leger and Dr. Michael Coulthart of the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance System.

“We are formally demanding that federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos unmuzzle Canadian scientists and direct the Public Health Agency of Canada to uphold the Canada Health Act and reinstate federal experts into the investigation,” said Steve Ellis.

“Both provincial and federal health officials are misrepresenting our patient files and information, and they are using this false information as a reason to abandon a public health inquiry,” said Stacie Quigley Cormier. “We view the actions of both federal and provincial officials as an abuse of power. It is completely unwarranted, unnecessarily cruel and as a result we have been made to suffer doubly.”