L'Association pour la santé environnementale du Québec / Environmental Health Association of Québec

Demand Change for MCS, Take Action Now!

Want to make a difference? Join us and let the government know that the conclusions of the INSPQ report on MCS are wrong. Demand that the report be taken down from the INSPQ website, revised and updated!

This action is for you whether you are in Quebec, Canada, or anywhere else in the world, whether you experience Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) or not. The denial in the National Institute of Public Health Québec (INSPQ) report on MCS that chemicals can cause harm is dangerous for everyone, since the chronic health condition of MCS is at the intersection of accessibility and sustainability.

Over one million Canadians have a medical diagnosis of MCS (Statistics Canada 2020). There is a high prevalence of MCS in the population according to Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey (Statistics Canada 2015-2016, 2020). MCS is triggered by commonly encountered chemical exposures. This means that the best management of this health condition is the avoidance of chemical triggers and the use of least-toxic products. The INSPQ report on MCS is damning: it failed to consult clinical and research experts on MCS, or people with lived experience of MCS. Important research was left out, and the conclusion of the report creates dangerous consequences for adequate accommodations and accessibility for this disability and ultimately harms people experiencing MCS. MCS must be recognized as a health condition in Québec, and this report must be removed without delay, revised and updated with the participation of experts and people with lived experience of MCS so it does not create further harm.

The mandate from the Minister of Health and Social Services of Quebec was described as follows:

  • Review the actual scientific knowledge on the various medical aspects of MCS in order to identify the best health care management of patients suffering from this condition.
  • More specifically, produce a critical analysis of the scientific literature concerning epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnostic criteria, treatment and clinical follow-up of MCS patients.

Following this meeting since the INSPQ could not find anything different on MCS than everyone else, the INSPQ changed these plans and sought a new mandate from the Minister of Health and Social Services of Quebec, to:

1. Identify the pathophysiological mechanisms that would explain the MCS syndrome using an approach that integrates the various research on all the proposed hypotheses.

2. If such mechanisms were identified, to verify whether exposure to odorous chemicals present in the environment at low concentrations could be the cause.

This change was made without consulting or even informing ASEQ-EHAQ. As a result, the mandate does not even mention the analysis of management, treatment, or follow-up for those with MCS. Without this critical piece in the mandate, the imperative to determine how to manage or appropriately accommodate MCS patients is nonexistent, and the state of support for people experiencing MCS has been left as it was 9 years ago when this mandate was initially created. Had ASEQ-EHAQ been consulted before the change in the mandate, we would have identified these flaws, and vigorously opposed this new mandate. We would have also insisted that since nothing new was found by the INSPQ, that the Minister of Health and Social Services of Quebec recognize the health condition, provide health care and social services for people experiencing MCS.

The resulting final report released on June 29, 2021, ignored the original objectives of the mandate that would have resulted in assistance and care for those with MCS. Instead, the report drew simplistic and erroneous conclusions, ignoring medical and research experts as well as the lived experiences of people experiencing MCS. Most shockingly, the report went as far as to claim that MCS is a psychological disease and not one caused by exposure to chemicals.

This report will determine policies and set a precedent. This has the potential to cause great harm to people experiencing MCS in Quebec, across the country, and even around the world. This report should not remain published, let alone available on the INSPQ website. The Minister of Health and Social Services of Québec must recognize and respect scientific expertise, as well as lived experiences of people experiencing MCS, when informing policy. For a more in-depth description of the scientific flaws of the report, a short summary has been created and can be found here

ASEQ-EHAQ requests that MCS be immediately recognized as a health condition in Québec. We demand that the report be removed from the website of the INSPQ immediately, revised and updated within six months with inclusion of experts in the field, and people with lived experience of MCS.