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High impact of arthritis in the workplace draws focus during Arthritis Awareness Month

The statistics are alarming – over 4.6 million Canadians live with arthritis and the annual economic burden is estimated at $33 billion. In the recent ‘Fit for Work’ study commissioned by The Arthritis Society, one in three respondents reported that they stopped working due to their arthritis, with over 60 per cent of those individuals being of working age - between 18 and 54. These findings demonstrate the increasing economic, physical and psychological toll arthritis has on Canadians in the workforce.

Further analysis of the study by the Arthritis Community Research and Evaluation Unit (ACREU) highlights the need to have a broader conversation about the impact of arthritis in 
the workplace:

  • Two-thirds of participants reported going to work even when they felt unwell because of their arthritis
  • 41% reported difficultly managing their symptoms.
  • 41% said arthritis made it difficult to carry out their work responsibilities
  • Over one-third of participants reported that arthritis made it difficult to travel to and from work
  • Over one-third noted that their condition had affected their career development.

“The lost productivity to our economy as well as the emotional toll on those unable to work because of their arthritis is far greater and growing far faster than most Canadians recognize,” says Janet Yale, the president and CEO of The Arthritis Society. “By failing to unlock the workplace contributions that so many with arthritis want to make, we’re only compounding the price we pay now and in the future.”

This September, The Arthritis Society is shining a light on these issues to open up an important dialogue about creating workplaces that are both productive and arthritis-friendly.

In addition to the analysis by ACREU, The Arthritis Society has partnered with Rogers Publishing Ltd on the launch of a booklet containing thought-provoking articles entitled The ROI of One Life: Arthritis that address the economic impact of arthritis in the workforce and the critical need for Canadian organizations to take action in addressing the disease. The articles will appear in the latest editions of Benefits Canada and Avantages.

On Tuesday, October 8, 2013, The Arthritis Society will host an employer roundtable engaging employers from leading Canadian companies such as AbbVie, Campbell Company of Canada, Scotiabank, and Sun Life Financial. The event will address the issue of arthritis in the workplace with the objective of moving from awareness of the disease to the development of a framework of guidelines and recommendations for arthritis friendly organisations.

To learn more about creating arthritis friendly workplaces, please email


The Arthritis Society has been setting lives in motion for over 65 years. Dedicated to a vision of living well while creating a future without arthritis, The Society is Canada’s principal health charity providing education, programs and support to the over 4.6 million Canadians living with arthritis. Since its founding in 1948, The Society has been the largest non-government funder of arthritis research in Canada, investing more than $185 million in projects that have led to breakthroughs in the diagnosis, treatment and care of people with arthritis. For more information and to make a donation, visit

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For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Douglas Emerson
National Manager, Communications – The Arthritis Society
tel: 416 979-7228 x3348
cell: 647-706-0440

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