Employers should do more to accommodate MS in the workplace: Report

Canada has highest prevalence of multiple sclerosis in the world

Canadian employers could be doing more to accommodate workers with multiple sclerosis — particularly since Canada has the world’s highest prevalence of the disease, according to a Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC) report.

Employers could be doing more in terms of workplace accommodation and income support for both individuals with multiple sclerosis and for their caregivers, found the report.

“When people living with multiple sclerosis or their caregivers are unemployed or underemployed, it is often detrimental to their health and financial situation. It also has a larger overall economic impact due to lost productivity,” said Thy Dinh, director, health economics, at the Conference Board of Canada.

“Increasing workforce participation of individuals living with MS and their caregivers would benefit not only the individual’s well-being, but also provide significant benefits to employers, government, and society as a whole.”

Multiple sclerosis costs the economy as much as $2.8 billion every year, and productivity loss for people with MS is estimated to account for about one-third of that economic burden.

If employers were to implement a system of supports, including a positive and open work culture, meaningful accommodations, insurance plans and benefits, more individuals with MS would be able to be productive members of the labour force, found the report.

There are approximately 68,000 women and 25,000 men with MS in Canada, representing about 300 cases per 100,000 people. This is almost two times higher than in the U.S., the country with the second-highest number of cases at 135 cases of MS per 100,000 population, according to the report.

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