An Ontario tribunal has denied an appeal from a Toronto man who launched a human rights complaint in an attempt to force the province to pay for a high-protein diet he says eases his fibromyalgia symptoms.
In a decision handed down March 12, Adjudicator Jo-Anne Pickel of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario rejected the application, writing that the case had “no reasonable prospect of meeting the test for establishing discrimination in relation to the special diet allowance.”
The man contends he was being discriminated against because he was denied funds from a provincial program designed to help people with certain health conditions who must eat special foods.
“Specifically, he alleged that the Special Diet Allowance provided under Ontario’s social assistance system discriminates against him by failing to fund a special diet allowance for his fibromyalgia,” Pickel wrote.
The case was one of more than 100 complaints filed by people challenging the Special Diet Allowance. Most complaints were filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, which referred them to the tribunal. The man's case was “heard before others in order to establish guiding legal principles applicable to all special diet cases.”
The complainant, who represented himself at the hearing, argued the province discriminated against him by not including fibromyalgia as one of the ailments eligible for funding.
But in her ruling, Pickel wrote that he failed to prove that a high-protein diet is generally accepted in the medical community as a means to treat symptoms of fibromyalgia, one of the preconditions to be eligible. Letters from his rheumatologist and physiotherapist did not state that the special diet was necessary, she wrote.
“The letter from the complainant’s rheumatologist states in its relevant part as follows: 'He (the complainant) has also been on a high protein diet, which he finds is beneficial in helping his chronic pain.'”
And the letter from his physiotherapist says the complainant “has been made aware that a diet higher than normal in protein can play an important role in the management of chronic inflammatory conditions such as he has.
“These letters fall far short of providing evidence that it is generally accepted in the Ontario medical community that a high protein diet should be undertaken in order to treat fibromyalgia,” Pickel wrote. “I note that the complainant’s rheumatologist’s letter does not state that he requires a high-protein diet. Instead, it states that he has been on a high-protein diet and that he finds it beneficial.”
The letters from the health care providers “do not provide any evidence that it is generally accepted in the Ontario medical community that a high-protein diet should be undertaken in order to treat fibromyalgia,” Pickel concluded.
“Although I have considerable sympathy for the complainant’s circumstances, his complaint must be dismissed.”