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Up to 80 Per Cent of Canadians With Multiple Sclerosis Are Unemployed

MS Society of Canada Asks Federal Government to Support Secure Jobs for People Affected by MS

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 5, 2014) -

Note to Editors: A photo is associated with this press reelase.

Up to 80 per cent of Canadians impacted by multiple sclerosis will become unemployed. Lack of secure, adequate income intensifies the hardship caused by MS. Canadians affected by the disease tend to have a lower quality of life compared to other Canadians. This May, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada is asking the federal government to support secure jobs and income for people affected by MS as part of 1 Day in May, a campaign to raise awareness about MS and the lives of Canadians impacted by the disease. Canada has the highest rate of MS in the world, and the issues that arise from living with MS are not issues Canadians can ignore.

"Many Canadians with MS can no longer maintain employment because workplace flexibility and benefits do not take into account the episodic nature of MS," says Neil Pierce, vice-president of government relations, MS Society of Canada. The MS Society is in Ottawa this week and is urging the government to take action.

Half of working age Canadians living with a disability have a condition which is of an episodic nature. However, these Canadians are not able to access the same employment supports that persons with permanent disabilities receive. "We are asking the federal, provincial and territorial governments to acknowledge the stark inequities between living as a Canadian and living as a Canadian with MS. We also urgently ask for policy changes that allow access to tax credits and benefits programs that increase support for people with MS and other disabilities."

100,000 Canadians live with MS, and hundreds of thousands more are affected by it as families, friends and communities of those diagnosed. Eight million Canadian caregivers contributed more than $5 billion of unpaid labour costs to Canada's health care system. Recognizing the vital role that caregivers play in the lives of people with MS, the MS Society is also asking the federal government to initiate the development of a National Caregiver Action Plan working with provinces, territories, caregivers, employers and organizations. Canada is one of the few developed countries that does not have a National Caregiver Action Plan. An action plan to support caregivers would ideally reduce financial burden, improve access to resources, and create flexible workplace environments for caregivers.

To mark the launch of this year's 1 Day in May awareness campaign, the MS Society is releasing Action on MS, a report that reveals that one in three Canadians with MS has to rely on financial support. Action on MS details what impacts the quality of life for Canadians affected by MS and calls on federal, provincial and territorial governments to address these issues. The report draws from dialogue with over 6,000 Canadians affected by MS through the "Listening to People Affected by MS Initiative". For more information about the initiative, visit mslistening.ca. Throughout the month of May, Canadians are encouraged to be part of 1 Day in May and show their support for people impacted by MS:

- Write to your local Member of Parliament and help bring change to secure jobs and income.

- Read the Action on MS and "Listening to People Affected by MS" reports to find out what it's like to live in Canada with MS.

- Participate in the MS Walk, MS Carnation Campaign and MS Bike to raise MS awareness and funds for people living with MS.

- Show your support for caregivers by sharing a poignant video that illustrates what it means to be a caregiver.

- Get an oil change at Mr. Lube from May 9-11, and a $2 donation will be made to the MS Society.

- Tweet #1DayinMay and spread awareness about MS throughout May.

One day in May, take action to help end this disease. Visit 1DayinMay.ca to learn more about how you can end MS and support all Canadians who live with it.

About multiple sclerosis and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world. MS is a chronic, often disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. It is the most common neurological disease of young adults in Canada. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40, and the unpredictable effects of MS last for the rest of their lives. The MS Society provides services to people with MS and their families and funds research to find the cause and cure for this disease. Please visit mssociety.ca or call 1-800-268-7582 for more information.

The photo associated with this press release is available at the following link: http://www.marketwire.com/library/20140502-943185_ENG_photo_800.jpg