Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Programs and Services

Take Action - Ontario & Nunavut Division

  • Advocacy & Legal

Become an MS Ambassador

Do you enjoy public policy? Do you want to take a more active stance and voice your concerns at Queen’s Park? Do you want to learn about the challenges faced by those living with MS and take part in training opportunities? If yes, then the MS Ambassador program is for you! To apply, please click here - MS Ambassador Program - MS Ambassador Volunteer Application
.

Priority Issues

More Support and Services for Caregivers

Family caregivers form the foundation of the home care and the health care system, providing countless hours of dedicated support and service to their family members, friends and neighbours. Acknowledging the vital role of the family caregiver is only one way to appreciate the important work that they do. In the long run, an investment in respite programs, allowances, training and education for individual family caregivers is a financially prudent way to spend healthcare dollars.

Employment and Income Support

Individuals are often diagnosed during their working years and are sometimes absent from work on a periodic basis due to the episodic nature of MS. Workplaces still need to endeavor towards better inclusivity for staff and a deeper understanding of the realities of colleagues with disabilities.The MS Society believes that investments need to be made in order to bring awareness to the episodic nature of MS and to train employers on the importance of making accommodations for individuals who want to continue to work. Some people living with MS continue to work and earn a sufficient income which can disqualify them from eligibility of specific disability related benefits and credits. As their illness progresses, expenses related to their disease put strain on their income and a larger percentage of their earnings go to healthcare related costs. As day to day expenses like housing, equipment, services and other illness-related costs rise, household incomes are depleting quicker than ever before. The MS Society believes that increasing the level of income or removing income as a basis of eligibility for income supports such as the disability benefit, refundable tax credits and ODSP will prevent penalizing individuals with MS who want to continue to be employed and receive work-related benefits.

Equitable Access to Rehabilitation

Clinicians specializing in MS are in unanimous agreement about the importance of providing prompt access to physiotherapy for people who have MS. Government support to enable access to these types of professional services can contribute greatly to maintaining quality of life, mobility and independence and allowing people with MS and their caregivers to stay in the labour market. Lack of access to rehabilitation leads people with chronic conditions to rely instead on expensive acute care. Episodic periods of disability limit their involvement in the labour market and force a significant number of people to rely on income support programs.The existing funding programs for equipment and services for seniors should be extended to include people living with disabilities, regardless of age or employment status.

Accessibility

As a province, we strongly believe that when it comes to accessibility, we need to reach higher and to go beyond the requirements of the AODA and its standards. We need to integrate accessibility into everything we do, until it becomes second nature. In order to ensure Ontario is fully accessible by 2025, we need to do more.The MS Society recommends that the Government launch a short, focused and inclusive consultation with stakeholders from all sectors, meeting together to develop meaningful improvements to the standard. We also support the development of two additional standards for healthcare and education.

Access to Quality Healthcare

As part of our advocacy work, the MS Society of Canada has been working in collaboration with MS clinics to lobby the provincial government to play a leading role in funding Ontario MS clinics. Actions we've taken over the past year include:

  • Stating the need in our January 2014 pre-budget submission to the Standing Committee on Finance & Economic Affairs
  • Informative presentation to the Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN’s)
  • Communication with the office of the Minister of Health and Long Term Care
  • Meetings with administrators at each hospital that has an MS clinic
  • Addressing this subject in a series of blogs posted on our website during the election campaign and in a survey that was distributed to each party to obtain their perspectives on several items of importance to people affected by MS
  • Making this a priority item at the MS Society's Day at Queen's Park, on October 28, where we provided advance briefing notes and raised the subject in every meeting that we had with MPPs and policy advisors. MS Society volunteers spoke at a well-attended luncheon and talked passionately and emphatically about the need for government to support the clinics
  • Distribution of a petition at our events and online requesting government funding of MS clinics. The petition received over 4,200 signatures and was presented to the Ontario Legislature on October 28, 2014
  • Awareness the request for MS clinic funding in our ongoing online advocacy initiatives including a very active campaign that began in December 2014 that facilitated the sending of messages about the need for clinic funding and other supports for people with MS to MPPs and relevant Cabinet Ministers
  • Ongoing consultation, correspondence, and meetings to address maintain awareness and encourage action

In February 2015, the provincial government responded to the MS Society petition to support MS clinics. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care acknowledged the importance of the specialized care the clinics provide and committed to supporting MS patients through existing programs such as OHIP and ADP. In addition, the government emphasized that the local hospitals are essentially responsible for their own funding and negotiations must take place through local Boards to obtain the funding.

The MS Society of Canada is committed to assisting the clinics with advocacy and local negotiations. Having increased the profile provincially, we are assured that the provincial government sees this as a priority. The MS Society is dedicated to continuing our work to ensure those living with MS have better access to healthcare and treatments.

Ways to Take Action

For more information on how to get involved, please contact:
Abidah Shamji
Manager, Government Relations
250 Dundas Street West, Suite 500
Toronto, ON M5T 2Z5
Phone: 416-922-6600 ext. 3117
Fax: 416-922-7538
abidah.shamji@mssociety.ca

Tools to Take Action