Multiple Sclerosis Resources in Canada
In our continuing series featuring prominent MS organizations around the world, we travel north to Canada.
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada is the only volunteer health organization in Canada which funds MS research and provides services to people living with MS. It was founded in 1948 shortly after Sylvia Lawry founded the organizations which later become the US National MS Society. The MS Society of Canada is organized in seven regional divisions with nearly 120 chapters; the national office is located in Toronto, Ontario.
The MS Society provides information and support to persons affected by multiple sclerosis, health professionals, employers, institutions and students. Based upon needs and available resources, the Society provides: information and referral; supportive counseling; support and self-help groups; recreation and social programs; financial assistance; education; and help in advocating for yourself.
Our goal in Client Services is: "To provide programs and services to those affected by multiple sclerosis to achieve the highest possible quality of life while living with the daily challenges that MS presents." Visit In Your Community to find your local MS Society chapter or division office.
In addition to providing educational programs and services directly to patients living with MS, the MS Society of Canada has several awareness and fundraising campaigns going on right now and year-round.
May is MS Awareness Month
The MS Society of Canada marks the month of May as MS Awareness Month. Across the country, the society's aim is to "increase awareness about multiple sclerosis, inform the public about the MS Society's services and mission, and to engage new and existing supporters in their efforts to end MS."
Joining the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF), the Society supports and will help promote the 2nd Annual World MS Day on Wednesday, May 26, 2010. The objectives of the World MS Day are to "raise awareness and to unite, broaden and mobilize the global MS movement."
MS Carnation Campaign and Mother's Day
Just in time for Mother's Day, the MS Society will host the 34th annual MS Carnation Campaign. From May 6th to May 8th, 2010, volunteers in more than 280 communities across Canada "will be showing their dedication to finding a cure by selling carnations on street corners, mall and other public spaces." The carnation, the official symbol of Mother's Day, was chosen by the MS Society as a symbol of hope in the quest to end multiple sclerosis.
The endMS Capital Campaign
Launched in 2008, the endMS campaign is raising $60 million to recruit, train, support, and retain the next generation of MS researchers in Canada. The goal of this effort is to accelerate discovery in the field of MS to end MS in the shortest possible timeframe.
The flagship initiative of this investment is the $20 million endMS Research and Training Network. The MS Society of Canada will allocate a minimum of $40 million over five years to finance specific MS research projects including important topics such as:
- Understanding and preventing autoimmunity attacks on the central nervous system
- Studying how to stimulate myelin re-growth and repair (myelin is the protective insulation surrounding nerve fibres in the central nervous system)
- Determining if transplanting bone marrow stem cells in people with MS can stop the disease
- Understanding the role of genetic susceptibility and environment
- Understanding the development of MS in children
- Conducting clinical and population health research to help people manage MS today
Each of these research areas has the potential to achieve dramatic advancements toward the end of MS.
Online Forums and Communities
The MS Society of Canada hosts a variety of forums, discussion boards, chatrooms, and the endMS Community Scrapbook. You can share your own stories, photos, or videos in the Scrapbook or visit any of the following forums.
Canadian Network of Multiple Sclerosis Clinics (CNMSC)
The Canadian Network of Multiple Sclerosis Clinics (CNMSC), established in 2001, is a consortium of Canadian multiple sclerosis clinics for the benefit of patients, clinic staff, physicians, and researchers. The Network has three main goals intended to enhance the quality of life of patients:
- To provide world-class medical and paramedical patient services for people with multiple sclerosis.
- To provide advanced education in multiple sclerosis at all constituencies including patient, paramedical personnel and physician education, at a local, national and international level.
- To promote multi-disciplinary research excellence in multiple sclerosis in the areas of basic science, health service, clinical, and radiological research.
The CNMSC includes 22 centers and has over 50 investigators at 15 universities across Canada. To find an MS clinic in your area, consult the listing which are organized by Province.
The Multiple Sclerosis Resource Network (MSRN)
The Multiple Sclerosis Resource Network (MSRN) is an independent, not-for-profit organization whose members are health care professionals in the Greater Toronto Area. They strive to identify and respond to gaps in the continuum of services for people living with multiple sclerosis in the Toronto area.
Compiled by MSRN, the MS Resource Guide provides information on services in the Greater Toronto area designed to assist people with multiple sclerosis maintain optimal functional abilities and higher quality of life. The Guide is intended to be useful to patients as well as the health care professionals who provide them essential services.
If you know of additional organizations, initiatives, campaigns, or resources for MS patients and their loved ones in Canada, please leave a comment and let us know about them. Thank you.