Notice of 2021 Annual General Meeting of Members

Notice of 2021 Annual General Meeting of Members

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Annual General Meeting of the Members of Muscular Dystrophy Canada will be held via Zoom.

on Friday, September 24, 2021 at 2:15pm Eastern Standard Time for the following purposes:

  1. Receiving the following reports:
    • Chair of the Board and the CEO;
    • Treasurer; and
    • Independent Auditor, together with the audited financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2021.
  2. Electing the Board of Directors
  3. Appointing the Auditors
  4. Other business as may properly be brought before the meeting.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting. If you would like to attend, please contact Benjamin Dixon at benjamin.dixon@muscle.ca or 800-567-2873 to obtain the videoconference details.


Dave Ferguson
Secretary of the Board of Directors
Cowichan Bay, BC

Progress on national newborn screening for SMA

To our community,

For many neuromuscular disorders, early diagnosis and prompt access to treatments are integral to achieving positive outcomes. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for most Canadian children born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). When time equals neurons, diagnosis at birth is vital. Newborn screening (NBS) gives families the opportunity to make important healthcare decisions from the very beginning and gives every child a chance to realize their developmental potential.

Screening for SMA can detect approximately 97% of cases. Yet Ontario is currently the only province with SMA on their screening panel.

In December 2020, we embarked on a multi-year collaboration with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. to make NBS for SMA a national reality. We recently completed Phase 1 of the project, which assessed the feasibility of including SMA into existing NBS programs and created a readiness assessment plan for implementing a standardized SMA screening program in Canada. Provincial readiness was assessed on the following key factors:

  • Existing infrastructure to conduct specialized screening
  • Accessible treatment
  • Favourable environment to add SMA to NBS panel
  • High readiness among clinical stakeholders to support SMA NBS program
  • Existing infrastructure in-province to confirm diagnosis of SMA through genetic testing
  • Low cost for adding SMA to the NBS

Despite immediate challenges, the assessment highlighted a strong consensus on the value of implementing SMA in NBS programs across Canada and a shared understanding of the urgency.

Today, we are excited to be launching Phase 2 of our work with a call for funding proposals for local NBS for SMA initiatives. It is anticipated that these projects will focus on the setting up of laboratories for testing and/or ensuring efficient uptake of the policy itself. An independent selection committee will review applications in the coming weeks and we expect to announce the first round of funding at the end of June.

We look forward to receiving proposals from medical and laboratory experts across the country. But our work will not stop there. We will continue to engage with policy and decision makers in all jurisdictions to secure NBS for SMA for every newborn.

With support from the SMA community from coast to coast, we are standing up for Canadian babies. Join us in the call to #screenforsma.

Stacey Lintern
Chief Executive Officer

MDC funds seven new projects to propel research forward during challenging times

Toronto, Ontario – Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC) is proud to announce an investment of $400,000 to fund seven new research projects in 2021 through the MDC Neuromuscular Disorder (NMD) Research Grant Competition, a dedicated Canadian source of funding for neuromuscular research. MDC will also invest in an international, collaborative, $1.15 million, research project through the European Joint Programme on Rare Diseases (EJP RD).

“Despite an unprecedented time, during which many like-minded organizations and agencies are not in a position to offer research funds in Canada, MDC is able to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to discovering cures,” stated Stacey Lintern, CEO, Muscular Dystrophy Canada. She added, “while others redirected their research funds towards the coronavirus, and this was much-needed, MDC recognized the need to maintain momentum, and ensure the incredible advances currently taking place in research are accelerated.”

In addition to the seven new projects being funded, MDC will continue its support of 12 active research studies from the previous year.

“MDC grant recipients are selected by medical and scientific professionals, as well as Canadians with lived experience. Research proposals are judged based on scientific merit, and the potential to translate findings into initiatives that will positively impact the NMD community,” said Dr. Daria Wojtal, Director of Research, Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

MDC relies on the generosity of donors to fund life-changing research.

Dr. Rashmi Kothary, Deputy Scientific Director and Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and 2019-2020 MDC research grant recipient, said “to the families and donors, I would have to say a huge thank you. From my first day as a researcher, getting my first grant from MDC, you were there. Thank you for sticking by the research community for many, many years. Hopefully we can pay back the trust that you put in us.”

MDC is honoured to fund the exceptional and bright researchers, clinicians and academics who will lead these seven new projects taking place in hospitals and universities across Canada, and around the world.

The 2020-2021 research grant recipients are:

  • Dr. Alex Parker
    A Pharmacogenetic Pipeline for Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease
  • Dr. Colin Crist
    Promoting Muscle Repair by Pharmacological Inhibition of eIF2a Dephosphorylation
  • Dr. Mohamed Chahine
    Human iPSC-derived Neurons as a Model of Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1
  • Dr. Nadine Wiper-Bergeron
    Improving Myoblast Transplantation Outcomes via Pharmacological Reprogramming
  • Dr. Nicolas Dumont
    Targeting Defective Stem Cells in a Preclinical Model of Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1
  • Dr. Rima Al-Awar (EJPRD/CIHR Co-funded)
    Safety and Efficacy of a Possible Epigenetic Therapy for Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy
  • Dr. Toshifumi Yokota
    Enhancing the Efficacy of Antisense Oligonucleotide Therapy for Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy

“Congratulations to the 2020-2021 grant recipients. MDC is committed to supporting opportunities that fulfill our commitment to invest in research that leads to information on diagnosis, treatment and health management of neuromuscular disorders; and, we’re confident that the research funded this year will bring us closer to cures for all children, youth, adults and families affected by neuromuscular disorders,” added Lintern.

DISCOVER THE PROJECTS WE SUPPORT

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ABOUT MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY CANADA

Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s mission is to enhance the lives of those impacted with neuromuscular disorders by continually working to provide ongoing support and resources while relentlessly searching for a cure through well-funded research. To learn more about Muscular Dystrophy Canada, please explore our website or call our toll-free number at 1-800-567-2873

MEDIA CONTACT

Heather Rice
Muscular Dystrophy Canada
heather.rice@muscle.ca
902-440-3714

Reduce the timing between doses for patients with neuromuscular diseases

Jurisdictions across the country have been following National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommendation to put off second doses and prolong the time between the first and second doses of two-shot COVID-19 vaccines to up to four months. However, persons with neuromuscular disorders may have respiratory involvement, require immunotherapy and are particularly vulnerable to severe and life-threatening effects from contracting COVID-19 infection. Partial protection for some of the most vulnerable and high-risk patients in the country from this devastating disease is not acceptable, particularly as the virus and variants surge across the country. Together with neurologists, the Neuromuscular Disease Network for Canada, Jesse’s Journey and GBS-CIDP Canada, MDC submitted a letter to Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Dr. Quach-Thanh, Chair of NACI and each provincial health minister urging them to further nuance the list of those who should be prioritized for their second dose by including adults affected by neuromuscular disease.

If need any support accessing your first and/or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, please feel free to contact advocacy@muscle.ca.

Open letter to Health Minister Patty Hadju
Open letter to NACI

MDC Change Agents 

As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, we are happy to share that the following members for MDC’s Advocacy Advisory Committee have been selected:

Catherine Boivin
Quebec
Profession: Digital Technologies Specialist and Consultant
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Alfred Breton-Pare
Quebec
Profession: Senior CRA; Project Manager; Clinical Research Manager
Connection to MDC: Parent of a child affected by a NMD, MDC Board Member

Emily Hong-Wing Chan, BSc (Hons), MSW (Cand.)
Ontario
Profession: Social Worker
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Dr. Sue Dojeiji MD, Med, FRCPC
Ontario
Profession: Physiatrist-in-Chief, Clinical educator; Neuromuscular Researcher
Connection to MDC: NMD Clinician-Scientist

Susan Jahnke
British Columbia
Profession: Business Owner & Website Manager
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Corrine Kagan, BA (Hons)
Ontario
Profession: Past Senior Program Director (ABI)
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Dr. Colin Kovacs, MD, Med, FRCPC
Ontario
Profession: Family Medicine/HIV Primary Care Physician; Assistant Professor in Internal Medicine at U of T
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD, Member of NMD4C

Ken Kramer, Q.C.
British Columbia
Profession: Principal & Senior Associate Counsel at KMK Law
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Louis Joseph Lauziere
Ontario
Profession: Past Senior Policy Advisor in Dept of Justice at Gov of Saskatchewan
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Michael Low, JD
Alberta
Profession: Litigation Associate at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP
Connection to MDC: Parent of a child affected by a NMD

Stefanie Marinich-Lee, LLB.
Ontario
Profession: Lawyer, Corporate HR
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Erin Novakowski
Alberta
Profession: Undergraduate student at U of Alberta; Disability Social Media manager; Writer and Contributor for Accessible Housing Canada
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Thu Parmar, B.Sc. Pharm
Alberta
Profession: Clinical Pharmacist; Managed public drug programs at Alberta MoH; Senior Manager of Government Relations & Public Policy at Hoffmann-La Roche Limited (Roche Canada)
Connection to MDC: NMD Industry Partner

Jalee Pelissier
Ontario
Profession: PT/OT Aide
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Kara Reid, BSc OT
New Brunswick
Profession: Occupational Therapist
Connection to MDC: Member of Neuromuscular Clinic, MDC Board Member

Dr. Kerri Schellenberg  MD, MMedEd, FRCPC, CSCN (EMG)
Saskatchewan
Profession: Neurologist and Medical Director ALS Clinic; Neuromuscular researcher.
Connection to MDC: NMD Clinician-Scientist

Erica Vella, BA
Ontario
Profession: Digital Broadcast Journalist with Global News Toronto
Connection to MDC: Family member of an adult affected by NMD

Fatima Vido-Vecchio, B.Sc. PT
British Columbia
Profession: Physiotherapist
Connection to MDC: Member of Neuromuscular Clinic

Elaine Whitmore
Ontario
Profession: Past CEO of John McGivney Children’s Centre
Connection to MDC: Friend of persons affected by NMD; Advocate

We are thankful to all who applied and applaud our new members for coming forward to help us work together towards inclusive policies that reflects and respects Canada’s diversity, values the neuromuscular experience and are accessibility-focused.

We look forward to influencing positive change together! If you have any questions about advocacy, please email advocacy@muscle.ca

You can bring people together, even when we have to stay apart

Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC) is extremely fortunate to have your support. We are truly grateful that even during these challenging times, together we are able to support the thousands of Canadians impacted by neuromuscular disorders to live their best lives. While at the same time work relentlessly to search for cures and ensure that the neuromuscular community has access to the right diagnosis’, treatments and therapies.

Because of you, we are able to respond to the thousands of requests for support from our client’s and their families, the neuromuscular research community and health care professional’s each and every day.

Canadians with rare disorders, like Susan Jahnke, are extremely isolated during this pandemic. Your support today, can help them create connections.
As you know, living with a neuromuscular disorder (NMD) has its challenges. Add in a global pandemic and it opens up a whole new set of obstacles. We need your support to ensure individuals, like Susan Jahnke, continue to get the support they need during these challenging times. Susan recently shared with us how difficult having a rare NMD has been this past year.

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“I have a rare neuromuscular disorder that most people understandably haven't heard of, congenital fibre type disproportion. I have good days where I don't feel too bad, and don't think about my disability much - but I haven't had days like that during the pandemic. I'm confronted by being vulnerable every time I read the news or try to plan even a very limited outing. The reminder of how susceptible I am to the complications of COVID-19 is inescapable.

I miss seeing my friends, my mum and my brother, but the hardest part for me has been the tough choices my family had to make. My stepdaughter is in high school, and trying to balance keeping me safe, and keeping her life as normal as possible with her education and work, has meant that she's spending most of her time with her other parent. This has been such a painful balancing act.”

Your support today will mean that people like Susan won’t have to go through this difficult time alone. Your donation will ensure they can access the right services and supports to remove some of the many challenges they face. Together, we can ensure our Service Specialists across Canada are only a phone call away, equipped to work with each and every client and their families to break down barriers and alleviate frustrations.

Susan continued by sharing, “I also have to choose between getting the medical and healthcare I need, and risking COVID-19 exposure. Which is more important? It's such a hard thing to figure out, and my general health has really been suffering. I'm glad I'm able to stay in contact with my general practitioner over the telephone, but I'm missing out on critical care like physiotherapy and seeing specialists. One silver lining of the pandemic is how much it's highlighted the need for connection and I try to find new ways of reaching out, even on the hard days.”

You can keep Service Specialists, like Courtney, just a phone call away for Canadians needing support.
Thanks to you, Susan can connect with friends in the neuromuscular community through virtual network meetings or pick up the phone and call an MDC Service Specialist.

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People across the country affected by neuromuscular disorders have experienced similar challenges. Challenges no one should have to go through alone. That’s why MDC is so fortunate to have supporters, like you, who recognize the importance of providing opportunities for connection – whether that’s bringing individuals together virtually, or ensuring they have someone like me to reach out to for support,” shared Courtney Stearns, MDC Service Specialist.

Like you, MDC is dedicated to being there for all Canadians affected by neuromuscular disorders. Your generous support makes it possible for Canadians to connect and support each other virtually. And, will mean investments to continue the research momentum we are seeing in Canada. Donors like you make the funding of these incredible research projects go from an idea to action. Please consider making another donation today to move more research projects forward.

I hope we can count on you to continue your support. Your generosity fuels our mission, passion, and hope for a future with cures for neuromuscular disorders. You make an incredible difference.

Warm regards,
Stacey Lintern
CEO, Muscular Dystrophy Canada

P.S. Your donations have funded incredible projects such as a research hotline to answer critical questions from the NMD community, a virtual clinical care program to support home-ventilation, a partnership to make nation-wide newborn screening for SMA a reality and evidence-based webinars to share timely information with our national community. Please consider making a donation today to propel even more critical initiatives forward.

MDC Statement

December 4, 2020

Statement from Stacey Lintern, Chief Executive Officer, Muscular Dystrophy Canada on a Collaboration with Novartis for National Newborn Screening in Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)

“The remarkable story of Aiden Deschamps shared this week by Newborn Screening Ontario and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario demonstrates the profound impact newborn screening has on the quality of lives of children born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). We know that for these children, promising outcomes are possible with a timely diagnosis and early access to care and treatment. We applaud Ontario for recognizing this and being the first province to add SMA to their screening panel.”

“As an umbrella national organization that represents individuals impacted by neuromuscular disorders including SMA, we believe all Canadian babies should have an opportunity to realise their developmental potential. Building upon Ontario’s leadership, we are excited to embark on a collaboration for nation-wide newborn screening collaboration with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., who have committed up to $2 million. This investment coupled with our combined expertise will fuel the goal of making newborn screening for SMA a reality from coast-to-coast.”

“This landmark effort will bring together those with lived experience, medical experts, patient advocacy organizations, governments and other key stakeholders. We are incredibly proud of this important initiative and look forward to working with the SMA community across the country.”

For more information, contact:

Stacey Lintern
CEO, Muscular Dystrophy Canada
Phone: 647-284-8706
Email: Stacey.Lintern@muscle.ca

Don’t Forget Me This Holiday Season

The world is a scary and lonely place right now. Due to the global pandemic, we are isolated from our friends and family. Our routines have completely changed. We aren’t able to do the things we love and visit our favourite places. This is what life is like, every day, for many individuals affected by neuromuscular disorders.

My name is Warren. I’m a husband, a father, an advocate and so much more. I also have Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy. I wanted to share my story with dedicated donors, like you, because you’re having a profound impact on the lives of so many people affected by neuromuscular disorders – in ways that you may not even realise. And for that you deserve much gratitude and thanks.

I was eighteen years old before I was diagnosed. As frustrating, demoralizing and scary as it was to grow up unable to do things and not know why, it made me incredibly thankful when I finally did receive a diagnosis.

I remember being compared to my younger siblings. I was often called lazy. My experience of being treated less than fairly made me the advocate I am today. I’m also dedicated to raising funds for Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC), because I know from personal experience that the resources, connections and programs they offer are life-changing. I know these services are only possible, because of gifts from special donors like you.

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MDC is at great risk of not being able to continue offering these incredible services. Their revenue has drastically decreased during the pandemic, and demand for programs and support services has risen. You have been instrumental in providing these services in the past. Will you consider donating today to ensure individuals, like me, can continue to access the support we need during these challenging times?

The holidays are almost here and people are getting excited and finding new ways to celebrate with their loved ones. For me, the holiday season means snow, increased expenses and further isolation and loneliness.

I hope this holiday season you will remember the challenges many of us are facing.
Because you have the power to give the gift of hope and connection by supporting MDC.

Sometimes I get very angry. I’m angry that my loving wife and wonderful children have
to watch their dad struggle. I’m angry that I can’t be there for them in the ways I want to be. I’m angry that we, the disabled community, so often seem to be forgotten. I can’t deal with the anger and isolation alone. Thankfully I have a friend like you in my corner.

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Because of you, I am able to participate in MDC’s virtual network meetings. These meetings give me a chance to connect with others who understand my situation and frustrations. It also gives me the chance to help others and be a support system for new friends across the country.

Did you know you were providing a safe, accessible way for individuals affected by neuromuscular disorders across the country to connect with each other, form friendships and reduce isolation? This type of gift is invaluable. But without your continued generous support, these opportunities for connection are at risk.

You have the power to bring people together, to reduce isolation and loneliness and to brighten someone’s day in a meaningful way. Will you make a donation today to spread a little holiday joy?

The financial support, equipment and emotional connections you provide are important every day, but even more so during the holidays. I hope you will make a donation today to make sure no one feels forgotten this holiday season.

Warm regards,
Warren Jones

P.S. Give the gift of joy and connection today. Then if you know someone impacted by a neuromuscular disorder, tell them how you are supporting MDC and encourage them to attend a virtual network meeting. I’d love to make a new friend.

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The Tenaquip Foundation Walk for Muscular Dystrophy raising funds, hope and unity in new ways

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 29, 2020

Toronto, Ontario – Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC) is bringing the neuromuscular community together like it never has before. On September 12, 2020 at 2 p.m. EST, thousands of Canadians across the country will come together, virtually, to participate in The Tenaquip Foundation Walk for Muscular Dystrophy (Walk4MD).

“This is the first time MDC has hosted a virtual fundraising event, and we are excited to have The Tenaquip Foundation as our title sponsor. They are amazing supporters of the neuromuscular community in Canada, and this year they have extended their commitment by joining the Walk4MD family,” says Stacey Lintern, Interim CEO, Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

Learn more

MDC Urgently Needs Your Help

Dear Friend,

I truly hope this letter finds you and your loved ones safe and well during these uncertain times.

I am reaching out to request your support. As a result of COVID-19, Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC) has experienced a significant decrease in our fundraising revenue. As an organization that does not receive government funding, MDC relies on generous donors and supporters, like you, to meet the diverse and ever-changing needs of our clients.

Your support has enabled MDC to deliver its critical programs and services, like our equipment funding program, to thousands of clients across Canada for over 66 years. To ensure the safety of all, we have had to make the difficult decision to cancel and or postpone in-person fundraising events. As a result, MDC has experienced a decrease in revenue by over 60 per cent in our first quarter.

Therefore, we’ve had to decrease funding for our equipment program by 40 per cent meaning fewer clients are getting what they need. Our clients need us now more than ever as they have limited resources and are coping with issues related to COVID-19.

That’s why we’re hoping you will consider making a special donation today, if you can.

One such client who needs help is Courtney White. Courtney is a single mom of three children. Her two sons have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and she desperately needs a bathroom lift for her home. She shared with us that, “This pandemic has been incredibly hard for our

Harley and Ayden, with their mom Courtney and sister Keira, need your support to access critical, life-changing equipment.
family. Right now, I have to lift my oldest son, Harley, in and out of the bathroom. He weighs significantly more than me. Having a ceiling lift from the bedroom to the bathroom would mean more independence for the boys, less physical stress on me and more time to spend together as a family. But, due to COVID-19, funding has been delayed significantly.”

Sadly, the crisis is far from over. You can help us continue to fund critical equipment for people impacted by neuromuscular disorders. We urgently need your support. If you are able, please consider donating today.

MDC has almost 100 people waiting for critical equipment. As you may know, often government doesn’t fund or fully cover the high costs of essential equipment like wheelchairs, ramps, lifts and respiratory aids. For some this means not being able to live in their home safely. For others, like Courtney’s family, it means emotional and financial strain in addition to health and safety concerns for caregivers.

Courtney also shared how thankful she is for the support that donors make possible.

“MDC always does everything they can to help us. For a single parent in this situation, securing financial support for equipment would take a huge weight off my shoulders, both literally and figuratively. Without you, I can’t get the equipment I need for my sons.”

If you are in a position to donate, I hope you will consider doing so today. You will be helping Canadians impacted by neuromuscular disorders access the critical equipment and support they need to live their best lives.

Thank you for being there when we need you most and continuing to support those impacted by neuromuscular disorders. I hope you have been safe and healthy during these uncertain times. If you have been impacted by COVID-19, you are in our thoughts.

With deepest gratitude,

Stacey Lintern
Interim CEO
Muscular Dystrophy Canada

P.S. At a time when our ability to raise funds to support the neuromuscular community has been diminished, we are experiencing a significant increase in requests for our services. You have MDC’s commitment that we’ll continue to do everything we can to support our clients and their families. But, in this period of uncertainty, we really need your help.