President & CEO
The summer of 2015 has been a tremendously exciting summer. It has been filled with important advances in research, with the annual MS Summer Camp for young people affected by MS, and the spirited efforts of participants from coast to coast in MS Bike Tours and in golf tournaments in every part of the country. These efforts never cease to inspire me as we seek to improve the quality of life of every Canadian touched by MS.
In July, we awarded a major grant — $3.2 million — that provides fresh funding to a team of researchers studying pediatric MS in children and adolescents. Funded by the MS Society and its affiliated MS Scientific Research Foundation, the study of MS in children has the potential to provide clues about the earliest triggers of the disease, which could lead to early detection of MS in adults. Dr. Brenda Banwell— renowned Canadian MS neurologist, chief of neurology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and adjunct scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)—will lead this collaborative study with 19 pediatric health care and research institutions across Canada. Read more about this study in Dr. Karen Lee’s blog here.
The link between our gut microbiome (the trillions of bacteria in our digestive tract) and MS is gaining significant traction within the research community. A growing body of evidence suggests that disturbances in gut microbiome balance can affect the behaviour of immune cells and trigger inflammation, in turn leading to the development of MS in genetically susceptible individuals. We have recently launched a new research funding competition that will explore the role of the gut microbiome in children living with MS in conjunction with the above study led by Dr.Banwell.
In preparation for the federal election on October 19, we are ramping up our advocacy efforts and asking Canadians to write to their candidates from all major parties to ask for better employment and income supports for people living with MS. We want the newly elected government to make it easier for people with MS and other episodic disabilities to keep working, and to improve income support for people with MS who cannot work or can only work intermittently. Check endms.ca in the coming weeks to learn how you can write to the candidates in your riding today.
All these efforts – which bring us one step closer to our mission of ending MS – would not be possible without your generosity and outstanding contributions, for which I am deeply grateful.
If you have not yet joined #TeamFight to fundraise this summer, there are many ways in which you can do so. Consider joining or supporting a cyclist in one of the 15 MS Bike tours taking place in August and September across Canada. I am proud of my own efforts in the MS Bike Tour in Prince Edward County where I clicked in at 70 km on an absolutely beautiful day.
In August, for the seventh year in a row, we’re teaming up with A&W Canada for Cruisin' to End MS on August 27 to raise awareness of the disease. Also, for every Teen Burger sold on August 27, one dollar will go directly to Canadian MS research and services for people who live with MS. Together with A&W’s president & CEO Paul Hollands, I will be embarking on a two-day President’s Tour to visit several restaurants from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean: St. John’s, Montreal, Kingston, Kenora, Regina, Grand Prairie, Prince George and Penticton. I look forward to eating a good share of Teen Burgers and drinking root beers, and the privilege to connect with A&W staff and guests. The energy and enthusiasm along the way will be invigorating!
President and Chief Executive Officer
Biography of Yves Savoie
Yves Savoie serves the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada as president and chief executive officer since February 2007. He also serves as a director of the MS Scientific Research Foundation. Yves is a passionate advocate for the inclusion of people with disabilities in our community and the chief spokesperson for the MS Society of Canada. In particular, he has been a strong voice for improved access to catastrophic drug coverage, for better supports for caregivers, and for more flexible income supports for those affected by episodic disabilities including people living with MS.
Under his leadership, the MS Society and its related MS Scientific Research Foundation celebrated the successful completion of the $60M endMS Campaign and have implemented the flagship endMS Research and Training Network to attract, recruit and retain the next generation of MS researchers. He has provided leadership to a broad planning process culminating in the approval of the Renewal Initiative in September 2012. The Renewal Initiative brought significant changes to the MS Society with the view to improving its ability to deliver on its mission to be a leader in finding a cure for multiple sclerosis and enabling people affected by MS to enhance their quality of life.
Well known as a strategic thinker and facilitative leader, he is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars on a variety of topics. Yves serves as a member of the Board of the MS International Federation, Imagine Canada's Standards Programme, and of the National Steering Committee of the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR), an initiative of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) in partnership with the provinces and territories. He holds a Masters of Management from McGill University which he completed as a student in the McGill-McConnell Program for National Voluntary Sector Leaders and an MBA from Concordia University. He received his Bachelor of Arts, International Relations, from the University of Toronto and attended the Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific as a scholar from his native province of New Brunswick. Yves was proud to participate in Muck MS this past September and is an annual participant in the MS Bike Tour in Prince Edward County.
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The MS Society of Canada’s work relies on the tireless commitment of thousands of volunteers and the hard work and passion of a few hundred employees. In pursuit of our mission, we have established strategic priorities to deepen volunteer engagement and to be an employer of choice.
As part of our strategy to be an employer of choice, the MS Society of Canada recruits and retains top-quality staff members. Equitable and competitive compensation as benchmarked against other not-for-profit organizations is part of this commitment. In determining staff compensation, we strive to balance the need to attract and retain quality staff with our commitment to careful stewardship of donor dollars.
Oversight to all aspects of the MS Society’s compensation strategy is provided by a committee of the national board that is comprised entirely of senior volunteers. On a periodic basis, the committee reviews information that is provided by an external independent compensation consultant who provides comparative information for equivalent positions within the not-for-profit sector.