In recognition of Celiac Awareness Month

I also rise on behalf of the Liberal caucus and the Official Opposition to pay tribute to May as Celiac Awareness Month.

Each year, more and more Canadians are diagnosed with the chronic autoimmune condition for which the only known treatment is a strict gluten-free diet. It is thought that as many as 300,000 Canadians have celiac disease, but the majority of those individuals have not yet been diagnosed.

The Canadian Celiac Association explains — and I quote: Celiac disease is a medical condition in which the absorptive tissues in the small intestine are damaged by the body’s autoimmune reaction to a substance called gluten. This results in an inability of the body to absorb nutrients…which are necessary for good health.

Essentially, it results in the starvation of nutrients from one’s body, which can contribute to infertility, osteoporosis, depression and anemia, among other conditions in both and women.

Testing to confirm a celiac disease diagnosis requires an individual to be on a gluten-contained diet and includes blood tests and/or a small bowel biopsy. These assessments are available in Yukon and can be ordered after consulting a physician. After diagnosis, individuals are encouraged to consult a dietitian or a counsellor to ease the transition into a gluten-free lifestyle.

The gluten-free options available in the Yukon increase daily and I would like to thank the community’s commitment to providing these options for all. However, care must be taken to ensure that restaurants are providing a safe dining experience for those residents and visitors who require a gluten-free diet for medically necessary reasons. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has several excellent free on-line resources to support food service establishments in providing safe options for their diners.

In honour of Celiac Awareness Month, I call for increased information on the resources available in Yukon for those living with this condition and how we as a community can best support them. There is currently an on-line campaign this month called “The Face of Celiac”, so in recognition, I would like to thank Zara Soukoroff for submitting this tribute. She is a Yukoner living with celiac disease and I am glad that she was able to share her experience with us.