Going to bat for people with Parkinson’s

James B.
Eastern Ontario

James B. received valuable advice from PSC’s National Information & Referral Program
James B. received valuable advice from PSC’s National Information & Referral Centre.

When my partner and I bought a property last December, we took out a mortgage with a major bank and were offered mortgage protection. To my surprise, I learned that my application for mortgage insurance was turned down. The reason? Because I have Parkinson’s.

Since I have worked in the insurance industry and know that many decisions are based on life expectancy, I challenged the company’s assumption that Parkinson’s would shorten my life. They said they needed proof from my doctor, so I asked my neurologist to supply a letter.

However, I also called PSC’s Information and Referral Centre. I explained the situation and said that this seemed like discrimination against people with Parkinson’s. She agreed that we should do something about this. She wrote a letter to the insurance company (see below) highlighting recent research that confirms that life is not necessarily shortened by Parkinson’s. She also sent them a copy of PSC’s new Progression of Parkinson Disease information sheet.

Weeks later, I got the good news that the company reversed its original decision and approved both my partner and me for mortgage insurance. I believe that the Parkinson Society’s advocacy, on my behalf, played a big part in bringing about that change.

Excerpt from letter sent by PSC in support of mortgage insurance application:

On behalf of Parkinson Society Canada, Central Northern and Ontario Region, I am taking the liberty of sharing with you our education resource on the Progression of Parkinson’s disease (a copy of which is attached to this letter).

Parkinson’s is a complex neurological condition. While symptoms will worsen over time, it is difficult to estimate how quickly or slowly it will progress in each person. Depending upon age of onset, general health, and symptom management, a person with Parkinson’s can live an active life. In most cases, one’s life is not shortened.

Research as current as March 9, 2009 concluded the survival rate among people with Parkinson’s is the same as for the general population. More information on the research can be found online at www.pdf.org/en/science_news.