Canadian Pain Task Force delivers second report to Health Canada

November 18, 2020

Canadian flagNote: We last wrote about the work of the Canadian Pain Task Force in March 2020.

The Canadian Pain Task Force delivered its second report to Health Canada on November 6, 2020. The release of the Task Force’s second report coincided with National Pain Awareness Week, an annual week-long initiative aimed at sparking dialogue, raising awareness and reducing stigma around chronic pain.

About the second report

The report – Working together to better understand, prevent and manage pain: What we heard – was created by the Task Force following a series of extensive in-person and online consultations from July 2019 through August 2020 to identify best practices to better understand, prevent, and manage chronic pain. A diverse range of stakeholders were involved in the Task Force’s consultations, including many people with lived experience of pain. The second report details the findings from these consultations through five interconnected themes:

  1. Access to timely and patient-centred pain care
  2. Awareness, education and specialized training for pain
  3. Pain research and related infrastructure
  4. Monitoring population health and health system quality
  5. Indigenous peoples

The second report addresses current gaps and challenges in pain care, education, research and data monitoring and outlines elements of an improved approach to managing pain in Canada.

The report reflects on the relationships between inequity and trauma on the occurrence and severity of pain, as well as the ability to access care. It notes that chronic pain is not equally distributed among Canadians and that Indigenous people, people who use drugs, people experiencing poverty, certain ethnic communities and women are disproportionately impacted by pain and more likely to experience inequities and discrimination in health care.

Similarly, the report outlines the additional impacts two concurrent crises – the COVID-19 pandemic and the overdose crisis – are having on people living with pain and calls for action to ensure people in pain aren’t left behind in the response to each.

New funding for pain initiatives

In addition to announcing the release of the Task Force’s second report, Health Canada also announced nearly $3.5 million in new funding for three initiatives that aim to provide improved support and access to care for populations at higher risk of experiencing pain and marginalization, including women, older adults, Indigenous peoples, certain ethnic communities, people who use drugs, and veterans. Learn more here.

Next steps

The next phase in the Task Force’s three-year mandate will focus on building relationships and networks across the country – including the chronic pain community, federal, provincial and territorial governments, health professionals, researchers, and communities disproportionately impacted by pain – to share best practices around preventing and managing chronic pain. The final Task Force report is expected in December 2021 and will focus on strategies for improving chronic pain in Canada.

Read the full report here.