Spring 2019 (Volume 29, Number 1)
Celebrating Our History,
Building for the Future
The Arthritis Society marks its 70th anniversary
by embarking on a new five-year strategic plan
By Janet Yale, President and CEO, Arthritis Society
As the Arthritis Society celebrates 70 years of helping Canadians live better with arthritis, let’s reflect
on our past – and look toward the future.
Celebrating Our History
The Arthritis Society – then the Canadian
Arthritis and Rheumatism Society (CARS) –
was created by rheumatologist Dr. J. Wallace
Graham and his medical peers to address the
crippling effects of rheumatic disease. Under
the passionate leadership of Executive Director
Mary Pack, the group’s tireless efforts helped
deliver improved care to people who were often
confined to wheelchairs or hospital beds by
The Society established professional granting
programs that have helped spur the growth
of the rheumatology profession in Canada –
from just four doctors in 1948 to more than
400 clinicians practicing today.
Our donors have funded over $200 million
in research investment into arthritis – a legacy
unmatched by any other charitable funder
in Canada. That research has paid off, as today
most people experience dramatically reduced
joint damage and improved symptom relief,
allowing them to engage fully in their lives in
ways that Mary Pack and Dr. Graham could
scarcely have imagined.
As health conditions have improved, our
service focus has shifted from one-on-one care
delivery to scalable information and education
programs that allow us to reach more people,
arming them with self-management knowledge
and tools that are empowering them take control
of their health.
And throughout we have continued to advocate,
speaking up for the needs and concerns of Canadians living with arthritis, from getting
arthritis designated as a chronic disease to advocating
for access to and coverage of landmark new
Seventy years, and so much has changed. But
two things have not: our dedication to this cause,
and our ongoing partnership with rheumatologists.
From the beginning, this close collaboration of
medical professionals, patients and volunteers has
been essential to our success. And we will continue
to lean on the CRA and its members as staunch
allies and partners in this struggle. Because we all
want to live in a world free from the devastating impacts
that arthritis has on lives.
Building for the Future
Impact is what it’s all about. We need to exponentially
expand the reach of our information and education
resources, the research we are able to fund
and the scope of advocacy we undertake. We need
to heighten public awareness of this disease and
the need for urgent action.
Getting there will take more than dedication,
more than generosity, more than partnerships. It
will take a bold and clear vision of the path forward,
and absolute focus on the steps necessary to
achieve it. That’s why, for the first time in our history,
the Arthritis Society is embarking on a five-year
I announced this plan at the recent CRA Annual
Scientific Conference. Called "Accelerating Impact,"
it lays out the work we need to do to expand our
reach and impact, to grow awareness and to generate
the revenue that fuels our mission growth –
because everything we do is made possible through
the generous support of our donors and sponsors.
We will continue to engage our valuable partners,
the CRA foremost among them, in ongoing
dialogue on how best to improve the lives of those
with arthritis. For now, the important takeaway is
that – like Dr. Graham and Mary Pack before us –
we recognize that we cannot afford to be complacent
about the challenge that arthritis poses for
Canadians. We can do more, therefore we must do
We must accelerate our impact, so that 70 years
from now we can look back on the day when we
eliminated arthritis once and for all.
We look forward to going on that journey with you.
President and CEO,
The distinctive CARS uniform signalled a knowledgeable, compassionate caregiver.
Dr. J. Wallace Graham, one of the founders of
Mary Pack, the first Executive Director of