The MS Society offers a variety of programs
to help people affected by multiple sclerosis effectively manage
and cope with the disease. MS can be quite challenging at times,
but through the support offered by the MS Society, no one has to
face these challenges on their own.
The following programs are offered
in most chapters and units.
» Information and referral
The most frequent request that the MS Society receives from people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis is for information about the disease. You can turn to the MS Society to find credible and reliable information about MS diagnosis, symptoms, treatments, research, programs and other topics such as employment, insurance and family issues.
We provide resources to meet your needs, whether you have MS, are a caregiver of someone with multiple
sclerosis, a spouse or partner, a parent of a child with MS,
or a teen with MS.
In addition to providing information on multiple
sclerosis and related issues, the MS Society provides referral
services and connects people with MS and their caregivers to
vital community support resources. Depending on the community,
people with MS may have access to a wide range of programs and
services such as exercise classes, transportation assistance,
homecare and many others. On a community-by-community basis,
the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada maintains a database
of appropriate resources that can help people manage MS and
cope with it in their daily lives.
There is no charge to obtain information
or referral services. However, information is distributed with
the understanding that people use it for their own use and not
for reproduction or profit. The Multiple Sclerosis Society of
Canada is a licensee of ACCESS and abides by Canadian and international
The MS Society of Canada can help you navigate
the challenges that multiple sclerosis presents through our
supportive counselling services. Supportive counseling provides people with
MS as well as their families and friends with reliable, up-to-date
information on multiple sclerosis, a compassionate and accepting
space in which to share your questions or thoughts. We can also
help you identify options or solutions to your unique concerns
and circumstances. If you are someone with MS, someone going
through the diagnosis process, or close to someone with MS and
have questions or concerns, please contact us. We can talk about
what you are going through. Call your local MS Society division
office at 1-800-268-7582 or to find the nearest MS Society office,
visit In Your Community.
The MS Society does not provide therapeutic counselling, which
is a process between a qualified professional counsellor and
» Support and self-help groups
It may be difficult at times to talk about MS related symptoms with family and friends who may not grasp what it is like – but it can be very helpful talking to other people who share, or have shared, similar experiences.
Self-help and support groups are not limited to people living with MS, many Chapters and Divisions have groups for caregivers, family members and parents of children living with MS.
Recreation programs provide opportunities
for people living with MS to have fun, highlight the positive,
rediscover old pleasures and regain self confidence. They encourage
people with multiple sclerosis to try new activities, get together
with others, make new friends and to mingle in a friendly and
Recreational programs can take many forms.
Some chapters have developed swimming programs, tai chi, yoga
classes, social activities, "day away programs" and
Other chapters have developed partnerships
with local community groups or organizations who provide programs
that accommodate persons with physical disabilities i.e., YMCA,
March of Dimes, Centres for Independent Living, etc.
Social programs offered by chapters and units
give members the opportunity to meet face to face on a casual
basis and can serve to celebrate the work of the chapter. The
most common social events include Christmas parties and summer
» Financial assistance
The MS Society offers two types of funding;
equipment purchase and permanent loan as well as special assistance
programs. Please note that funding programs vary from province-to-province.
The MS Society of Canada does not offer financial assistance
for medications or disease modifying therapies, however, for
information on funding programs for medication / therapies,
please visit Modifying
the Disease Course.
Equipment purchase or permanent loan
The most common service provided by most divisions and chapters
is assistance with equipment to help people with MS maximize
their quality of life. Divisions and chapters manage this service
in various ways:
Information and advocacy to assist people in understanding
the resources available to them through their own benefits
programs and the provincial health system, etc.
Full or partial purchase of equipment or permanent loan
Special assistance programs provide limited financial assistance
to people with MS to cover services that are not available
through any other government or community agency. In some cases,
special assistance funds may also be used to augment existing
services that do not meet the needs of individuals living with
MS (i.e. to supplement a chronic home care program).
The goal of the program is to enhance quality of life and
encourage the person with multiple sclerosis to maintain as
much physical independence and emotional well being as possible.
Due to limited resources, funding programs are not available
in all chapters and divisions. Items that are funded through
special assistance programs may also vary from office to office.
Self-help groups are an informal way to link people who
share common concerns or experiences. All self-help programs
have the same goals: to give and receive emotional
support, and to give and receive practical ideas
in dealing with problems common to members of the group.
Self-help is based on the idea that no one knows more about
a problem than those living with it. Each person is an expert
because of his/her own experiences.
2. What is the difference between a self-help group and
A self-help group is facilitated by a volunteer
supervised by the MS Society of Canada who is also a member
of the same self-help group.
A support group is facilitated by an individual
external to the group that has expertise in providing assistance
in the role of facilitator. This person is supervised by
the MS Society of Canada and may be a staff person, volunteer
or non-MS Society of Canada paid facilitator.
Both groups offer a wide range of assistance to their members.
3. How are the meetings structured and where do they take
Self-help and support groups are coordinated by local MS
Society Chapter or Division offices and are facilitated by
MS Society of Canada trained staff or volunteers. Each group
has at least one trained facilitator as well as a group supervisor.
Supervisors are MS Society of Canada staff or volunteers
who have been designated by their Division office to supervise
and administer group activities.
Group meeting locations vary, however each group supervisor
will ensure the location is fully accessible and safe for
4. What can I expect from my self-help or support group
In a self-help group, individuals share not only their problems
but their successes. Sharing and talking with others who
have had either the same or similar experiences, helps people
to discover they are not alone and that there are others
who understand what they are going through. Support and self-help
programs may not solve all problems, but they do offer realistic
support, encouragement and hope and are one of the most valued
services the MS Society offers.
5. Will information discussed in the group be shared?
No. Confidentiality is a key component of all support and
self help groups.
6. How do I find out about self-help and support groups
in my area?
Please contact your MS Society division office at 1-800-268-7582
or to find your closest MS Society office, visit In
7. How do I become a facilitator or start a self-help group
and/or support group in my area?
Anyone interested in becoming a facilitator must undergo
a screening process, followed by facilitator training through
the MS Society of Canada. Please
contact your local MS Society office and ask to speak
to the self-help and support group supervisor for more information.
The MS Society of Canada developed nationwide Self-Help
and Support Group Standards and Operational Practices,
to be followed by any group operating under the MS Society
of Canada name. If you would like to know more about starting
a group, please contact
your local MS Society office.
8. Are there any online support groups?
Yes. Currently the Manitoba and Quebec Divisions
of the MS Society of Canada oversee online support services
including discussions boards and chat rooms. Although
these online services fall under the MS Society of Canada
banner, they are not nationally administered.
A friendly place to talk with other people living with
Facts and advice to assist you in helping your children
better understand and cope with multiple sclerosis
in the family.
Learn more about MS and communicate with other teens
National MS Society’s online community chat
room and message board, MSWorld® Inc.,
provides a global virtual community of support
to people living with multiple sclerosis. The site’s
sole mission is to create a safe, informative,
useful, and fun place for people to meet, share
ideas and gain useful resources to help manage
Joint is an online community based
out of the United Kingdom that offers support to
people living with MS, as well as their families
and friends. This online community was created
in 1995 by Julie Howell, who was diagnosed with
MS at the age of 20.