#ElectToFight: My dream debate

“Living with a chronic illness pretty much just makes me want to go out and vote to #endMS to fight against discrimination.”

– Stella, diagnosed in 2014

Canada has the highest rate of voters with MS in the world and with the federal election fast approaching, we turned to the MS community to find out: If you could ask the federal candidates one question relating to an issue that affects your life, what would you ask?

Here’s what we heard:

“I’d ask for some education. So that the workforce is educated on what MS is. We are highly functional, highly intelligent people who unfortunately have this relapsing-remitting illness. We’re not a liability. We’re very productive and intelligent people. We can’t control what we’re going through, but you can’t just paint it with a brush that says that we’re incompetent or incapable. I found it very offensive the first time I was discriminated against. It’s based on a lack of knowledge.”

– Catherine, diagnosed in 2002

“I’d like to ask the government why EI supports are so accessible for seasonal employment (fishing, snow removal, etc.) and so hard for someone with an episodic illness to access. The nature of an episodic illness is that I may have 3 or 4 weeks per year where I can’t work – I’m not at that point yet, but that is the point that a lot of people with this condition are at. If you have a cold or the flu, you shouldn’t go into work because you’re going to make other people sick. I could wake up feeling awful and I won’t get anyone sick, and it won’t necessarily make me any sicker to go into work, but rest could be the key to my recovery.”

– Ray, diagnosed in 2003

“I wish that they would take a more holistic approach to healthcare and focus on delaying the onset of career ending disabilities. It’s about affordable healthy food choices, rebates at gyms for those with disabilities, mental issues in regards to changing abilities, etc. It would be cheaper, I imagine, to keep people working as long as possible than to have us dependent on the government for support afterwards.”

– Gregory, diagnosed in 2008

“Is there a way of protecting people’s livelihood and ensuring that potential for opportunities within the workforce remain? That’s what really concerns me. Is there a way, regardless of your status of employment, to protect people and their livelihood so that they’re able to maintain a sustainable quality of life that allows them to manage a life changing diagnosis? Can we allow people to return to work when they are willing and able, and keep the lines of communication open between employers and employees?  The thing that’s so crazy to me is that my livelihood and potential for career advancement has been affected and I am NOT disabled. Not at all.”

– Stella, diagnosed in 2014

However you vote, make it count. #ElectToFight this October 19 and vote to #endMS. The house is our representation in Ottawa, and our MPs will set the tone for legislation – we need you to ask them to take action for Canadians affected by MS. Send a letter to your local candidates asking them where they stand in the fight.

I’d love to hear from more of you out there across Canada. If you have a question you’d like the candidates running in this federal election to answer, please leave yours in the comments below.

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