Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor announces the establishment of the Canadian Pain Task Force

The Task Force will provide insight on how to better prevent, treat and manage chronic pain

April 3, 2019 – Toronto, Ontario – Health Canada

Approximately one in five Canadians currently experiences chronic pain. Chronic pain has significant impacts on an individual’s physical and mental health, often preventing them from undertaking everyday activities.

Today, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced the establishment of the Canadian Pain Task Force at the Canadian Pain Society’s 40th Annual Scientific Meeting in Toronto. The Canadian Pain Task Force will help the Government of Canada to address the barriers that may prevent people with chronic pain from receiving the health services they need.

The Minister committed to exploring options for the creation of a national pain task force following a roundtable discussion on chronic pain with clinicians, researchers and people living with chronic pain at the 2018 Opioid Symposium in Toronto. During the discussion, members of the chronic pain community shared the long-standing challenges they face related to stigma and access to treatment. They also emphasized that the response to the opioid crisis was exacerbating these challenges, by contributing to stigmatizing attitudes and behaviours around opioid prescribing and use, and inconsistencies in access to treatment services.

The eight-member Task Force includes advocates who have lived experience with chronic pain, as well as researchers and health providers who have experience preventing and managing pain. Dr. Fiona Campbell, President of the Canadian Pain Society and Anesthesiologist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and Ms. Maria Hudspith, founding Executive Director of Pain BC, will co-chair the group. They will work with an independent advisory panel and will consult with stakeholders and governments across the country over the course of the next three years to:

  • Assess how chronic pain is currently addressed in Canada;
  • Identify best practices to prevent and manage chronic pain; and
  • Disseminate their findings to facilitate the implementation of these practices across the country.

The Task Force will submit three reports to Health Canada to reflect each of these three objectives, with the first report due in June 2019.

Other federal government departments and agencies are also engaged in this work and interested in the advice and evidence that the Task Force will provide, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Indigenous Services Canada and Veterans Affairs Canada for which funding was announced in Budget 2019 to set up a Centre of Excellence on Chronic Pain Research for veterans.

The creation of this Task Force is an important step toward addressing the concerns and challenges faced by people who live with chronic pain and toward improving health outcomes for Canadians. By bringing together health providers, pain researchers, and individuals living with chronic pain and their families and caregivers, Health Canada aims to promote greater understanding and awareness of the issues related to chronic pain management in Canada.


“Chronic pain is a real and significant health issue affecting the physical and mental health and well-being of millions of Canadians. Through the Canadian Pain Task Force, we hope to learn more about the impacts that chronic pain has on individuals and within specific communities, and to identify and share best practices that will improve the prevention and management of chronic pain in Canada.”

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

“Having dedicated my career to passionately preventing and treating pain, I am delighted to have been invited by Health Canada to co-chair the Canadian Pain Task Force. We are honoured to have this opportunity to help improve the quality of life for people who have significant pain, to learn more about and share best practices, and to address the concerns of all who are close to this issue.”

Dr. Fiona Campbell
President, Canadian Pain Society
Director, Chronic Pain Program, Department of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, Hospital for Sick Children

“As a long-standing advocate for those who live with chronic pain, I am honoured to be asked to co-chair the Canadian Pain Task Force. Through the creation of the Task Force and its mandate, Health Canada has taken an important step towards advancing solutions for the prevention and management of chronic pain in Canada.”

Ms. Maria Hudspith
Executive Director, Pain BC

Quick Facts

  • Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts three months or more. It can occur after major trauma, in association with diseases such as arthritis, or as a result of inadequately treated acute pain after surgery. Chronic pain can also be a disease in its own right. It can be present without a known cause or source.
  • Chronic pain causes a significant burden on the Canadian economy, with an estimated $43 to $60 billion per year in direct health care costs and lost productivity related to job loss and sick days.
  • Some Canadian populations, such as women, older Canadians, children, veterans and Indigenous populations are disproportionally affected by chronic pain and face unique challenges accessing services to best manage their pain.
  • The various forms of chronic pain can be complex to manage, often requiring multiple approaches that incorporate pharmacological, physical and psychological strategies.
  • From 2013 to 2018, the Government of Canada invested more than $88 million in pain research through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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Thierry Bélair
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada
[email protected]

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