JointHealth™ express   October 31, 2011

The Impact of Arthritis in Canada

Arthritis is a host of devastating and debilitating chronic diseases affecting more than 4.6 million Canadians.

Last week, the Arthritis Alliance of Canada (AAC) released its latest research report, The Impact of Arthritis in Canada: Today and Over the Next 30 Years. It describes the heavy economic, individual and societal costs of arthritis in Canada today and informs us of what to expect in the future, unless the problem is addressed now.

The report focuses on the two main forms of arthritis: osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). OA occurs when joint tissues are unable to repair themselves, resulting in damage to cartilage and bone. RA, which also affects the joints, is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis.

Currently, there are 4.4 million Canadians living with OA, but over the next 20 years that number is expected to rise to 10 million. More than 272,000 people live with RA, or 0.9% of adults. The percentage of those with RA is projected to rise to 1.3 % of the Canadian population by 2040.

Arthritis can result in disabilities that sometimes prevent individuals from fully participating in the workforce. Today, 1 in 8 workers (almost 12% of the Canadian workforce) has OA and 1 in 136 workers has RA. The Arthritis Alliance of Canada's report estimates that today OA costs the Canadian economy $27.5 billion and RA costs $5.7 billion. Over the next 30 years, those numbers will grow.

Four interventions were recommended in the report that would significantly reduce costs on the healthcare system and the burden on individuals living with arthritis. They are just the beginning of what needs to be done.

Based on the report’s findings, the AAC hopes to work with governments and the broader healthcare community to build a National Framework for Arthritis that will:
  • Establish research priorities and strategies;
  • Identify principles to guide the design and delivery of care;
  • Suggest prevention strategies; and
  • Propose an ongoing mechanism for the arthritis community to communicate with governments and the broader healthcare community.
The arthritis community has worked collaboratively to identify solutions. The next step is for governments and the broader healthcare community to engage in the discussion. We need the support of both these groups to ensure we are able to achieve meaningful change. Now is the time.

To read the report, click here.

Are you living with arthritis?
If you live with arthritis, you may be interested in a CBC survey, which follows up on the Arthritis Alliance of Canada’s report, The Impact of Arthritis in Canada: Today and Over the Next 30 Years. The survey asks what you think needs to be done to raise awareness about arthritis. Click here to participate.

What is the Arthritis Alliance of Canada?
Originally called the Alliance for the Canadian Arthritis Program (ACAP) when it formed in 2002, the Arthritis Alliance of Canada includes more than 20 member organizations from across Canada. The Alliance is made up of arthritis consumers and consumer organizations, arthritis healthcare professionals, researchers, funding agencies, governments, voluntary sector agencies, and industry. While each member organization continues its own work, the Alliance provides a central focus for national arthritis related initiatives.

The Alliance’s goal is to improve the lives of Canadians living with arthritis by working toward better access to care and treatment, broaden education of the arthritis community and public and health policy makers, and increase arthritis research.

To learn more, please visit

News bulletin:
Cheryl Koehn, president of Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) will be on Global TV on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 7:40 a.m. She’ll be demonstrating the new apps, ArthritisID and ArthritisID PRO, created by the “Arthritis is cured! (if you want it)” National Arthritis Awareness Program. Watch for her.