National Pain Strategy Update – Feb 2013
Canadian Pain Summit
The Canadian Pain Summit took place on April 24, 2012. The need for a Canadian Pain Strategy was widely endorsed and the blueprint for change was launched.
Over 200 delegates attended, representing 131 professional and consumer groups interested in pain;
- Health critics from the Liberal Party and NDP attended and spoke;
- Ten media interviews were facilitated on the day of the Summit, including a national news feature qualifying the need for a National Pain Strategy
- 272 earned media stories were secured for the National Pain Strategy through proactive media relations between November 2011 and April 2012;
- Webcasting of the Summit and presentations are available for viewing at www.canadianpainsummit2012.ca
Parliament Hill Day
On April 23rd, 2012, a delegation including people living with pain and members of the Canadian Pain Coalition and Canadian Pain Society went to Parliament Hill to raise awareness among federal elected representatives about the need for a National Pain Strategy. Accomplishments included:
- Meetings with ten MPs from all three federal parties, including Opposition Critics for Veterans Affairs and Defence; Standing Committee on Health;
- A successful meeting with the Office of the Minister of Veterans' Affairs, where staff expressed a desire to continue to collaborate and seek input for revisions to the Veterans' Affairs Act in 2013;
- The Prime Minister's Health Policy Advisor has requested a future meeting with CPS / CPC representatives; and
- Toronto Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett formally acknowledged the need for a National Pain Strategy in the House of Commons.
In the lead up to the Summit, CPS was active on Twitter and Facebook, engaging patients, the public, and members of the media to raise awareness of the need for a National Pain Strategy. During the Canadian Pain Summit, Twitter users posted approximately 643 tweets about the Summit or the National Pain Strategy, reaching an audience of over 474,000 viewers. On Facebook, we reached an audience of 246,519. To further generate awareness among politicians and engage Canadians, we launched an online petition at www.CanadianPainSummit2012.ca encouraging Canadians to endorse the need for a National Pain Strategy. Over 4,300 online signatures and over 3,100 letters to MPs calling for a more coordinated and integrated approach to the issue of pain.
The goal is to have a National Pain Strategy implemented to address the four key target areas (awareness and education, access to care, research, and ongoing monitoring) to address the social, economic and personal impact of pain. A National Pain Strategy will address the major gaps that exist including the fact that our health care professionals are not receiving adequate training in pain care.
We are encouraged by progress in other jurisdictions, such as Australia, which recently announced an additional $26 million in funding over four years for the New South Wales Pain Management Plan. The Australians held their Pain Summit March 11, 2010. They formed an organization called Pain Australia http://www.painaustralia.org.au/ a non-profit organization that was formed to help coordinate the implementation of the recommendations of the Australian Pain Summit.
We need to continue to educate Federal politicians about the huge burden of illness in Canada as a result of chronic pain and to persuade them to take a leadership role in supporting a National Pain Strategy.
At the federal level, it is important to continue to work with the Health Canada and Veterans Affairs Canada, as well as the Standing Committee on Health (HESA), to push for a task force to implement a National Pain Strategy. It will be critical to have the National Pain Strategy put on a parliamentary committee's agenda for serious review and discussion. Building on the relationships established at the initial meetings, it will be important to work with federal MPs to turn words and supportive sentiments into action, and have them endorse the Strategy and advocate for its implementation.
In 2013 we plan to shift our focus to the provincial level, beginning with a focus on engaging provincial ministries of health, MPPs/MLAs, and other relevant officials to push for action on the management of pain. This work has already started with many active individuals and groups working hard in British Columbia, the Atlantic Provinces, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec, advocating for better care for pain. We hope that all Provinces can help pressure their federal counterparts to ultimately implement a national strategy for pain.
Some examples of provincial initiatives that have already occurred since the Summit include:
In Ontario the ministry is developing a chronic pain plan for the province. As a first step, they are compiling a comprehensive view of the services for the management of chronic pain currently offered. This will identify gaps in services, review strategies that have been effectively adopted or are emerging in other jurisdictions, and will propose initiatives to support a comprehensive system in Ontario. The Ministry is in the process of bringing stakeholders together.
Quebec continues to develop Centers of Excellence at Laval, McGill, Université de Montréal and Sherbrooke University. These centers will serve as tertiary care facilities for complex cases of pain and will support community practitioners treating people with pain.
Pain BC continues to pursue several educational initiatives including a live phone in radio show “Pain Waves Expert”, an annual conference, a community practice support program for GPs with a “hotline” to the specialist and plans to create a mentorship program similar to the one on Nova Scotia, a coordinated strategy in the Interior Health Region and plans for expansion.
Nova Scotia continues to offer a province wide coordinated system of pain clinics and a mentorship network. The challenge is to increase hours of operation and to monitor outcomes of care.
We are planning a meeting of Provincial pain advocacy groups at the annual Canadian Pain Society scientific meeting in May 2013 in Winnipeg to share our successes and coordinate our strategies.
Grassroots Public Engagement
We need Canadians to continue to support the National Pain Strategy! One in five Canadians is affected by chronic pain. They and their families can be powerful advocates for our cause. For this reason, we need to encourage members of the public to support the need for a National Pain Strategy and continue to engage their local elected officials on the issue.
Our partner and supporting organizations all have an interest in minimizing suffering and raising awareness of the physical and psychological effects of pain. We have a solid foundation of one hundred and fifty eight organizations that have endorsed the National Pain Strategy to date. Many of these organizations have thousands of members. Recognizing that there is strength in numbers, we must combine our resources to collaborate on issues of mutual concern.
We need to move forward on behalf of all Canadians (and their families) affected by pain. To continue our efforts, we need your support! If you care about better management of pain in Canada stay engaged and tell your family and friends about the National Pain Strategy. Go to the website and join our mailing list and consider donating to the initiative (www.canadianpainsummit2012.ca), Contact us at email@example.com if you'd like to become more involved!