12/12/2014 01:59 EST | Updated 02/11/2015 05:59 EST

Elizabeth May's Lyme Disease Bill Passes Senate In Green Party First

OTTAWA - The Senate has passed a private member's bill on Lyme disease, the first Green party bill to ever pass both houses of Parliament.

The legislation sponsored by Green party Leader Elizabeth May won Commons approval last June and now only needs royal assent to become law.

It calls on the government to call a conference of provincial and territorial ministers, medical experts and representatives of patient groups to develop a comprehensive Lyme disease strategy.

The strategy would include a national program to track rates of infections, and establish guidelines for preventing infections and diagnosing and treating them when they occur.

Lyme is a tick-borne disease whose symptoms include a rash, fever, headache and fatigue.

May says the bill could not have passed without the support of the government.

"The hard work of the minister of health, Rona Ambrose, and the entire Lyme community were instrumental in making this bill a reality," she said.

Although the legislation passed with all-party support, part of it was opposed by an organization representing infectious diseases specialists.

The Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Canada was concerned that the bill appears to support the idea that significant numbers of people suffer from a condition they believe to be chronic Lyme disease and that they have been failed by a medical system that refuses to accept that diagnosis.

A number of organizations say the existence of chronic Lyme disease is based on pseudo-science, while others claim it is a real and debilitating condition.

May said her bill is neutral on the subject.

"I'm not a doctor," she said. "I'm not taking positions on these things."

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