Canadians Urged to Take Action for MS
MS Society of Canada’s campaign to inform federal candidates of priorities important to the multiple sclerosis community is under way
Elections matter. As Canadians tune in to the next 26 days on the campaign trail, the MS Society of Canada is asking them to #TakeActionForMS in a letter-writing and social media campaign to inform federal candidates in all parties and in every riding across the country about the issues and concerns of Canadians living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and the MS community.
“Throughout this campaign, the priority of the MS Society of Canada is to advocate for the MS community, full stop,” says Pam Valentine, President and CEO, MS Society of Canada. “We all share concerns about taxes, health care and the environment. But there are specific concerns when it comes to things like income and employment, access to treatments and health research that people affected by MS and the MS Society want to ensure are at the forefront for candidates.”
Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world — an estimated one in every 400 people with an average of 12 Canadians diagnosed every day. It is most often diagnosed in adults between the ages of 20 and 49 — this age group accounts for 60 per cent of the cases in Canada — but it can also be diagnosed in younger children and seniors. MS impacts all Canadians, not just the people who live with MS – including their families, their friends, and their communities.
The MS Society would like candidates to consider four key priorities that are important to Canadians affected by MS:
- EI Sickness Benefits — More than 60 per cent of people living with MS eventually reach unemployment, yet the unemployment system in Canada has barely been touched since the 1970s. The government needs to continue to update EI sickness benefits by reducing the hours needed for eligibility from 600 to 400, removing the one-week waiting period and eliminating the clawback in the Working While on Claim provision.
- Canada Disability Benefit — The cost of paying for medication, services, equipment, and treatment is a significant burden for Canadians with MS and their families. Add to that the fact that people with a disability are already more likely to earn less, it is clear that better financial supports are urgently needed. The government must implement the Canada Disability Benefit to make direct payments to individuals with a disability, specifically including episodic disability as defined in the Accessible Canada Act.
- Access to Treatment, Care, and Housing — Far too many Canadians living with MS have inadequate access to vital treatments, proper care, or accessible and affordable housing. We need to accelerate current reforms to pharmaceutical policy — such as the Patent Medicines Prices Review Board, national pharmacare, national drug agency — and incorporate patient-centred perspectives to make access to MS treatments equitable, affordable, and timely, and create an age-appropriate care and housing approach in the COVID-19 recovery, including the perspective of adults under 65 with disabilities.
- Prioritize MS Research — Research is critically important. Over the last two decades, the progress made on MS research has been nothing less than life altering, but that progress is at risk because of a stall in research funding directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada should invest critical funds in health research in partnership with health charities, invest in basic scientific research, and connect with health charities to ensure the lived experience and the patient voice are paramount.
“It is vitally important that Canada’s elected officials understand what it’s like to live with an episodic disability like MS,” says Kim Wilson, member of the MS Society of Canada’s Board of Directors. “There may be several priorities for the MS community, but there is one message that we are sending to candidates across the country — take action for MS. We ask all Canadians to vote to take action for MS.”
Canadians interested in participating in the #TakeActionForMS campaign can start their journey at TakeActionForMS.ca.
About multiple sclerosis and the MS Society of Canada
Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world. On average, 12 Canadians are diagnosed every day. MS is a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord). It is considered an episodic disease meaning that the severity and duration of illness and disability can vary and are often followed by periods of wellness. Most people are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20 and 49 and the unpredictable effects of the disease will last for the rest of their lives. The MS Society provides information, support and advocacy to people affected by MS, and funds research to find the cause and cure for the disease, bringing us closer to a world free of MS. Please visit mssociety.ca or call 1-800-268-7582 for more information, to get involved, or to support Canadians affected by MS by making a donation.
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MS Society of Canada