Arthritis and The Canadian Federal Election – How You Can Take Charge

Canada’s general election will take place on Monday October 21, 2019. While health care is primarily considered to be a provincial issue, there are many ways in which the needs of Canadians living with arthritis can be helped through federal policies.

The Arthritis Society is calling on all parties and candidates to support our recommendations that, if implemented, will help improve health outcomes and quality of life for people living with arthritis.

Visit The Arthritis Society Federal Election Guide

This is what Canadian politicians heard from me:

Dear Party Leaders

My name is Eileen Davidson, at 29 I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis. At the time of my diagnosis I was scared, lost and alone, partially due to the lack of awareness surrounding arthritis in Canada and understanding from others. I was only 29 when I discovered arthritis is serious, then I discovered it’s very serious in Canada.

I am living the same life as 1 in 4 Canadian women. I was not alone in my struggles with pain and fatigue, I was not alone in my struggles living on disability. There are over 100 forms of arthritis, all of which are very complex and devastating, it’s no wonder arthritis takes a tremendous toll on the Canadian economy.

Don’t let the invisible nature of arthritis fool you, it’s a serious disease that effects us all, at any age.

Even though I am disabled, I have my federal and my provincial disability (CPP and PWD) I am allowed to work and make under a certain amount which I have been forced to do, otherwise I’d lose my home or go starving, and it is not just I who I have to look after. I am a single mother to an almost 7 year old. Between the two disability payments I’m left with not very much after paying rent and basic bills like heat, power, internet. That’s not including other basic necessities like food, clothing, medication, entertainment, emergencies, etc..

I have to work because I have a child to provide for.

I have to work because I have an expensive illness that requires treatments, medications, healthy foods and supplements.

I have to work to keep a roof over my head because the housing crisis in British Columbia has no end in sight. I have lost enough from chronic illness, I do not want to lose my home too. I live where I can access groceries, the gym, my son’s school, transportation

I have to work to afford medicinal cannabis.

I want to live, not just barely survive.

But how do you do that when you can’t lift more than 50 lbs? Stand for long periods of time? Sit for long periods of time? Pain causes you to lose concentration consistently or fatigue does it. Your schedule is filled with doctor appointments How do you do that when you have a compromised immune system? How do I work when I need to recuperate from basic daily living like taking a shower or preparing a meal? How do I work when I struggle to eat certain hours of the day but desperately need the energy and nutrition from a healthy meal?

Arthritis has caused me a lot of turmoil in my life, I am not alone in my fight. That is why I became an ambassador for The Arthritis Society and sit on the Arthritis Research Canada patient advisory board. My journey with arthritis has been featured in Inked Magazine, Creaky Joints, Healthline, Health Central, Everyday Health, The Georgia Straight, Reader’s Digest and more since I opened up about how arthritis impacts me and my fight against the disease on a blog. My involvement as someone living with arthritis and supporting cutting edge research I fully support The Arthritis Society’s decision to address these crucial topics facing 6 million Canadians in the upcoming election. These are matters that can not be ignored.

Arthritis likely impacts someone close to you or yourself, with 1 in 5 Canadians living with a form and an aging population, those numbers will only increase.

Our Challenge to the Parties

The Arthritis Society is calling on all parties and candidates to support our recommendations that, if implemented, will help improve health outcomes and quality of life for people living with arthritis.

Ensure all Canadians have affordable access to the medicines they need

Due to differences in coverage between provinces, and between public and private drug plans, Canadians do not all have the same level of access to the medications they need.

We need a national pharmacare program that ensures all Canadians have equitable access to a broad range of medically necessary treatments at an affordable price, wherever they live in Canada. And we need that program to raise rather than lower the standards of access, because what works for one patient may not work for another, so a range of choice is critical.

Any effort to move forward on national pharmacare must be informed and advised by strong patient participation focused on addressing urgent patient needs.

Stop taxing medical cannabis and make it available through pharmacies

Medical cannabis offers some arthritis patients an alternative for the management of pain and other symptoms. Unfortunately, the cost of using medical cannabis can put a financial strain on many patients, made worse by the application of sales and excise taxes. Medical cannabis should be exempt from taxation, just like all other prescription treatments under the Excise Tax Act.

Medical cannabis should be distributed through pharmacies, like other prescription medications. This will create a clear distinction between medical cannabis and cannabis for other uses. It will also help to ensure that patients receive reliable education from trained health care professionals on safe and effective use and facilitate reimbursement by health insurance plans.

Help reduce joint replacement wait times by increasing the Canada Health Transfer

Arthritis is the leading cause of joint replacement, including over 99% of knee replacements and over 80% of hip replacements. Many provinces struggle to provide timely access to joint replacement surgery due to increased demand and lack of resources. In many regions, wait times are actually getting worse, resulting in unnecessary pain and suffering for too many Canadians.

By increasing the Canada Health Transfer to the level of health system demand growth – between 5 and 6 percent annually – the Federal government can help provinces meet the medically recommended 6-month target for knee and hip replacement surgeries.

Thank you for making arthritis a priority in Canada


Eileen Davidson