Backgrounder: Supporting people living with chronic pain

Health Canada

November 6, 2020 From: Health Canada


The Government of Canada is taking action to ensure people living with chronic pain in Canada receive the support and access to care that they need. Providing support for people living with chronic pain is especially important during the COVID-19 outbreak, when many people are feeling increased stress, and access to health and social services may be reduced.

Nearly $3.5 million in funding for three chronic pain projects is being provided to improve the health outcomes of people who are seeking care to prevent or manage pain, substance use, or a related disability. Funding is provided through the Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP), which supports evidence-informed and innovative initiatives across a range of interventions—health promotion, prevention, harm reduction and treatment—targeting a broad range of legal and illegal substances.

The SUAP projects being funded are:

“Collaborative Mentorship Network for Chronic Pain and Addiction,” Alberta College of Family Physicians – Edmonton, Alberta

Approximately $2 million over 36 months is being provided to develop a mentorship program among family physicians and other primary healthcare professionals in Alberta to enhance expertise in treating patients with chronic and/or substance use disorder. Expanding the number of health care providers experienced in the treatment of chronic pain will help patients access treatment and care in their own community, including those not being reached by existing services, rather than relying on referrals to specialty care centres or emergency departments.

“Dissemination and Implementation of Extension for Community Health Care Outcome for Chronic Pain and Opioid Use Disorder in Canada,” University Health Network – Toronto, Ontario

Approximately $890,000 over 36 months is being provided to further educate community-based primary health care providers in underserved and remote regions of Canada in the treatment of pain. The project will support appropriate opioid prescribing for patients with chronic pain, increase the use of other evidence-based pain management strategies, improve identification of people with chronic pain and opioid use disorder, and coach physicians and nurse practitioners on how to initiate opioid agonist therapy.

“Transitional Pain and Opioid Safety Program: Improving Pain and Opioid Practices for Complex Chronic Pain Patients Following Surgery,” University Health Network – Toronto, Ontario

Approximately $680,000 over 36 months is being invested to explore expanding nationally an existing successful pain management program implemented in five Ontario hospitals. The project will provide targeted multidisciplinary treatment for patients who are at risk of chronic pain, disability, and/or escalating opioid use following surgery. Specialized care will be provided to patients in-person, by telephone, or via video before surgery and after hospital discharge.