Ottawa forms task force to provide input on preventing, treating, managing chronic pain

The federal health minister has announced the formation of a national task force to provide input on how to better prevent, treat and manage chronic pain, which affects one in five Canadians.

Ginette Petitpas Taylor says the eight members will provide information on barriers that may prevent people suffering with persistent pain from receiving the treatment they need.

Petitpas made the announcement in Toronto at the 40th annual scientific meeting of the Canadian Pain Society.

The society has long called for a national pain strategy, especially as the opioid crisis has exacerbated the stigma around prescription and use of the pain killers.

The health minister says it's too early to know whether the task force's three years of consultations around the country will result in a national pain strategy.

Andrew Koster of Comox, BC, suffers from a type of arthritis that has left him with debilitating low back and knee pain for years and he's concerned the task force's work may be sidelined if there's a change in government in October.

He says any plan the task force comes up with must cover how costs for non-opioid services such as physiotherapy would be paid for because most people who don't have extended health benefits can't pay for such options.