In a few hours, we will know the results of the federal election. After 78 days of intense campaigning, more than 66,000 polling stations are open across Canada, where voters are making decisions that will shape the future our country.
Multiple sclerosis is Canada’s disease no matter who is elected as our next prime minister—our federal government has an obligation to care for those living with chronic, episodic illnesses like MS regardless of party affiliation. Our next government must prioritize quality of life supports for Canadians with disabilities, particularly in the areas of access to healthcare and financial supports.
The recent announcement of the results from the ORATORIO clinical trial, in which ocrelizumab has been identified as a treatment for primary-progressive MS, highlights the need for faster access to treatments than our current system provides. People living with progressive forms of MS cannot wait the many years it takes for a treatment to travel through the multiple layers that involve Health Canada, the Common Drug Review and the provincial drug formularies.
Our next federal government must work closely with our provincial governments to ensure timely, equitable access to treatments as soon as they are approved by Health Canada. The current wait time is unacceptable, and collaboration between levels of government should serve to accelerate access while ensuring that access is not dependent on where a person lives in the country.
Canada requires federal leadership that will work with provinces to establish a system of lifelong care that can serve people with complex, chronic illnesses such as MS. People living with progressive MS are often faced with the decision to enter a long-term care facility, when in reality they would much prefer to receive the same level of care at home, surrounded by their loved ones. Our government needs to ensure that people living with severe, chronic illnesses such as progressive MS are empowered to make decisions about their own care; healthcare costs must shift so as to account for long-term, personalized care at home in the community.
While the economy has remained at the forefront of political discussion during the election campaign, we have heard very little about the ways in which our federal parties plan to ensure that people living with disabilities are supported so that they can play active roles in a prosperous economy. According to a recent report by the Institute for Research on Public Policy, 1.2 million Canadians experience an episodic illness that requires short-term financial supports during recovery time: a pattern people living with relapsing-remitting MS know all too well. Our current employment support systems are not flexible enough to accommodate episodic illnesses like MS, and our next federal government must modify current income supports that serve people who are sick for shorter periods of time.
Thank you for voting today. Thank you for electing to #endMS.