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MS and the Workplace

by JStewart, about 2 years ago

Thank you for the opportunity to share my story. 

I was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) in 2004.  I was in my prime - a young vibrant woman, completing my Master's degree in Library and Information Studies and working for a large travel/tour company. I was devastated and I had no idea how this disease would impact my future.  What I discovered was the unpredictability and intermittent nature of RRMS created uncertainty for my employer and after a number of role changes my employer could no longer accommodate my disability due to the nature of my work.

Fortunately, with the completion of my Masters, I was able to change careers and became a full time librarian in 2008.  I have since worked in a number of positions in a few areas of library service and have been able to manage and slow down the progression of my disease. Through government and private insurance support I have been able to access disease modifying therapies and treatments and, on a personal level, adopt a healthy lifestyle including diet and exercise regimens.

My current employer understands the importance of a healthy work/life balance, flexible work schedules, proper breaks and generous sick time allowances.  I am continually grateful for their support. Scientific research has proven that stress can cause exacerbations and increase the chance of relapse in people living with MS so the fact that I don't need to worry about the security of my position is wonderful. My work performance is also excellent because of the support I receive form my employer and colleagues.

I encourage the Minister to support legislation that encourages employers to see value in providing flexible work spaces and work hours as well as expediting the process to access federal support programs and work toward making the disability tax credit refundable. 

Thank you.

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