Pathways to Cures are in Sight as MS Canada Hosts Annual Day on the Hill with Carnation Pinning   

OTTAWA (May 1, 2023) – Dozens of representatives of MS Canada are fanning across Ottawa May 1st – May 3rd for the annual Day on the Hill, launching MS Awareness Month activities in support of people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) - a debilitating neurological disease that impacts more than 90,000 Canadians.  

In addition to awareness, MS Canada representatives are appealing for federal research funding, passage of the Canada Disability Benefit legislation, more changes to Employment Insurance sickness benefits, improved home and long-term care, and regulatory reform to streamline access to treatment.  

On May 3rd,  federal parliamentarians and government officials will be “self-pinning” carnations to demonstrate solidarity with the MS community and issuing their photos on social media platforms with the tag #TakeActionForMS. The distanced “self-pinning” replaces the traditional annual pinning by MS Canada representatives in the parliamentary foyers.  Public officials across Canada and members of the public are also invited to join in showing their support on May 3rd through MS Canada’s digital carnation pinning platform.   

Key Policy Priorities of MS Canada  

  • MS Research – Commit $15 million to fund MS research in partnership with MS Canada, leveraging our connections and expertise to focus and further our understanding of MS, pursue leading edge research on repair and regeneration, and explore prevention strategies targeting the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV).  

  • Income Security – Support the Canada Disability Benefit at every opportunity along its legislative path to royal assent, and provide adequate funding in the next federal budget to guarantee it meets its goal of lifting individuals with disability out of poverty.    

  • Employment Security – Continue modernizing the EI Sickness benefit by reducing the hours needed for eligibility from 600 to 400 across the country.   

  • Access to MS Treatments – Improve the current regulatory and price negotiation processes to enhance timely access to all Health Canada approved MS disease-modifying treatments.  

  • MS Care and Housing – Ensure federal funding investments improve home care supports by focusing on options, diversity, and choice, as well as safe long-term care that is age-appropriate and offers meaningful comprehensive supports.   

 Key Facts  

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) is classified as an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. The immune system attacks myelin (protective covering of the nerves) in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve, which disrupts communication between the CNS and the rest of the body. The disease course of MS is unpredictable, often occurring in a pattern of relapses and remissions also known as an episodic disability.  

  • Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world.  Over 90,000 Canadians live with MS, and on average, 12 Canadians are diagnosed with MS every day.  

  • The onset of MS is typically between ages of 20-49.  

  • Women are 3x more likely to be diagnosed with MS than men.  

  • Canada is home to world-renowned scientific experts on MS. Noted researchers include McGill University’s Dr. Douglas Arnold, and University of Toronto’s PhD student Lisa Eunyong Lee, and the recently-celebrated University of Manitoba’s Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie.  

  • A recent landmark study by a research team at Harvard University found that in almost every case of MS, onset occurred after an infection by the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), an association that was not found with any other common virus. As EBV is now established as the leading risk factor, it provides researchers a distinct target to focus their efforts and pursue MS prevention and therapeutic strategies by targeting EBV with potential vaccines and antivirals.  

  • At the start of 2023, the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of Canada began operating under a new name – MS Canada. Resulting from the amalgamation of the MS Society and the MS Scientific Research Foundation.  


  • “If ever there were a time to be excited about medical research in MS, it’s now, with exciting new breakthroughs suggesting preventative treatments could be on the horizon.” – Dr. Pamela Valentine, President & CEO of MS Canada  

  • “We urgently need more research to further test the seemingly undeniable link between Epstein-Barr Virus and MS. It could potentially eradicate MS altogether.” –  Benjamin Davis, Senior Vice-President of MS Canada  

  • “Two decades ago, I started volunteering with MS Canada to support people like me who live with MS and to raise funds for MS research. Many advancements have been made in MS research since then, including the connection between EBV and MS, and this research gives me hope for a world free of MS.” – Marilyn Lenzen, MS Canada volunteer, lives with MS  

Note to Photographers and Producers  

Red carnations will be delivered to House of Commons and Senate lobbies May 3rd for parliamentarians to self-pin.  

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For further information:    
Cathy Bouwers, Director of Public Relations & Strategic Communications