November is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month in Canada, a country with one of the highest rates of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in the world.
Both are debilitating and lifelong diseases caused by an abnormal response from the body’s immune system. Canadians living with Crohn’s or colitis are making tremendous strides to end the pain and isolation, but there is more to be done.
During the month of November, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is focusing on two central themes: access to medications and washroom access.
“We have come a long way in increasing public awareness about these debilitating chronic diseases, but there are still serious issues facing the nearly 300,000 Canadians living with Crohn’s or colitis. During Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Month we are asking Canadians to advocate for ‘No Forced Switch’ and to declare washroom access as a basic human right,” says Mina Mawani, President and CEO of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.
Minister of Health is Alberta, Jason Copping says, “Albertans living with Crohn’s or colitis often experience chronic abdominal pain, discomfort and urgency, and may need to use a washroom many times a day. Those who live with Crohn’s or colitis for longer than ten years are also at risk of developing colorectal cancer.”
Canadians with Crohn’s or colitis live with an invisible condition, and face pain, isolation and missed moments. These chronic diseases can cause 20 or more trips to the washroom a day, and each day, Canadians desperate for public washroom access are turned away. Patients want to be active, to work, to enjoy special moments, and lead normal lives. They can’t do that when they are denied a basic necessity like access to a washroom.
“We are asking the Government of Canada to recognize washroom access as a basic human right by including it in the anticipated Canadians with Disabilities Act,” explains Eric Thomson, Manager, Public Policy and Stakeholder Relations. “Opening up washrooms inside federal government buildings for Canadians with chronic incontinence issues would set a strong example for other levels of government and private businesses to follow.”
During the month of November, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada will be meeting with key federal government officials to advocate for the inclusion of washroom access in disability legislation.
Canadians will have the opportunity to lend their support to this important issue through an online advocacy campaign launching later in the month.