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Posts Tagged "step"

3Apr

National chronic pain task force a first step: federal health minister

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‘People with chronic pain are often underemployed or unemployed because they simply cannot work and not all of us have extended health benefits and even health benefits run out,’ says Andrew Koster.


‘People with chronic pain are often underemployed or unemployed because they simply cannot work and not all of us have extended health benefits and even health benefits run out,’ says Andrew Koster.


CHAD HIPOLITO / CANADIAN PRESS files

The federal health minister is forming a national task force to provide input on how to better prevent, treat and manage chronic pain, which affects one in five Canadians and is often addressed with opioids.

Ginette Petitpas Taylor said in an interview Wednesday the task force will provide information on barriers that may prevent people suffering with persistent pain from receiving the treatment they need.

“This is the first step in addressing the issue of chronic pain in this country,” she said, adding the eight members will consult with governments and advocacy groups around the country and provide an initial report in June, followed by two more over the next couple of years.

Petitpas Taylor made the announcement in Toronto at the 40th annual scientific meeting of the Canadian Pain Society, which has long called for a national pain strategy, especially as the opioid crisis has exacerbated the stigma around prescribing and use of the pain killers.

She said she committed to exploring the creation of a national pain task force after a discussion with patients, clinicians and researchers at a symposium in Toronto last year, when she heard people living with pain often feel their condition is misunderstood and services are inconsistent.

“We have to recognize that Canada’s a big country and we certainly know there’s inconsistent services in provinces and territories so I have to really have a good understanding of what’s available and what’s happening out there,” Petitpas Taylor said.


Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, stands during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017.

Sean Kilpatrick /

The Canadian Press

Advocates for pain patients presented the former Conservative government with a plan in 2012, but Petitpas Taylor said it’s too early to say whether such a plan will be introduced.

Andrew Koster, who suffers from debilitating lower back and knee pain from a type of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis, said he’s concerned the task force’s work will go nowhere if there’s a change in government in October.

“I’m looking for signs from the government that they’re taking this seriously and it’s not just something to state during an election campaign,” he said. “There has to be definite action.”

Koster, who will have surgery on his left knee next month following an operation on the other one last year, said he can no longer afford to pay $100 a week for acupuncture to deal with daily pain after he voluntarily reduced his opioids over concerns about any long-term consequences.

“People with chronic pain are often underemployed or unemployed because they simply cannot work and not all of us have extended health benefits and even health benefits run out,” he said from Victoria.

He said it’s crucial for the task force to identify non-drug costs for patients and provinces for services such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and acupuncture as part of any strategy it may come up with in its final report.

Andrew Koster, who suffers from debilitating lower back and knee pain from a type of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis, pictured at his home in Victoria in 2018.


Andrew Koster, who suffers from debilitating lower back and knee pain from a type of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis, pictured at his home in Victoria in 2018.

CHAD HIPOLITO /

CANADIAN PRESS files

Serena Patterson, a 60-year-old psychologist in Comox, has lived with pain associated with fibromyalgia for over half her life and also developed migraines that prevented her from continuing her teaching job at a college.

She said a three-year task force seems excessive, especially because advocacy groups have enough information on health-care gaps and patients wait too long to see specialists.

“I think we know that people are dying in an opioid epidemic and chronic pain patients are high on that list,” Patterson said.

“I would hope that this three years would be building, not more research. What needs to be built is a network of multidisciplinary team programs that are accessible, that are in rural areas as well as urban areas, that provide not only medical support but psychological as well as social support to help people be full participants in their life and in their community.”

Dr. Norman Buckley, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care at McMaster University in Hamilton, said hundreds of organizations, patients, clinicians and researchers came together in providing the federal government with the strategy in 2012. There was no action at the time but he said the opioid epidemic has now made that unavoidable.

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22Mar

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ advocate to step down and review of office

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The B.C. Care Providers Association is calling for the resignation of Isobel Mackenzie, the province’s seniors’ advocate, alleging her relationship with the Hospital Employees’ Union leadership has been too “cosy.”


RICHARD LAM / PNG

The B.C. Care Providers Association is calling for the resignation of the province’s seniors’ advocate, alleging her relationship with the Hospital Employees’ Union leadership has been too “cosy.”

In a statement, the association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of the Office of the Seniors’ Advocate.

But seniors’ advocate Isobel Mackenzie says she never did anything inappropriate, adding that consulting and collaborating with stakeholders is part of her mandate.

The association alleges that documents obtained through a freedom of information request show Mackenzie collaborated closely with the Hospital Employees’ Union leadership in shaping a report on the transfer of patients from care homes to hospitals.

The report, called “From Residential Care to Hospital: An Emerging Pattern,” was released in August and followed complaints from emergency room clinicians that some care homes were sending residents to the emergency department unnecessarily.

The association alleges she shared draft language of the report with the union, incorporated its feedback and notified the union of the planned timing of the report’s release.

In contrast, it says the care providers association was never advised in advance by Mackenzie’s office on the release of the report and its members were never notified beforehand of its findings.

“We have tried to work with the seniors’ advocate over the years with mixed results,” it says in a statement.

“The release of this FOI provides us with a disturbing insight into which organization is having the most profound influence over the OSA.”

Mackenzie told The Canadian Press the report was independent from the Hospital Employees’ Union.

“What they’ve chosen to say is, ‘Well she colluded with the HEU on this report,’ to which I’m saying, ‘Well how?’ The results, the methodology, the data sources — it’s all there. That has nothing to do with the HEU,” she said.

She said sharing contents of reports with some stakeholders or members of an opposition party is common practice.

“Everybody does that,” she said.

In the past, Mackenzie said she has shared content from reports that are favourable to the B.C. Care Providers Association in advance and not with the Hospital Employees’ Union.

In this case, she said her office shared contents of the report in advance with health authorities, the union and contracted care providers, which includes members of the B.C. Care Providers Association. She said her office has a relationship with care providers, but no obligation to the industry association.

Mackenzie suggested the association is calling for her resignation because it didn’t like the content of a report that found contracted care providers transfer patients to hospitals more often.

“The B.C. Care Providers took great offence to this report. What’s interesting is when the reports serve their interests, they don’t have this problem,” she said.

Mackenzie said she is not considering resigning.

The association is also calling for a full and independent review of the office.

Unlike other advocates that are independent, such as the B.C. Ombudsperson or the children and youth advocate, the seniors’ advocate reports to the Health Ministry, which couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The association says it also wasn’t consulted on a decision by the B.C. government to move more than 4,000 home support jobs from the private sector to public health authorities, and accused Mackenzie of failing to press the government on that decision.

“Not one question was posed by her to government on their reason for the change, or if any analysis had been provided,” it said.

“For BCCPA, this was a tipping point.”

Mackenzie said she was briefed by the deputy minister and health authorities in advance of the decision and she found there was an argument to be made for the change.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the office’s position under his ministry has never stopped Mackenzie, who was appointed five years ago by the previous Liberal government, from criticizing him or the ministry freely.

“She has criticized the NDP government, the Liberal government, the care providers and just about everyone else in her advocacy,” Dix said Thursday.

Dix said he has personally been on the receiving end of her criticism but he recognizes that’s her mandate and said she does a “good job.”

“If people want to make the argument for a long-term review of what the status of the office should be, that’s something the care providers and everyone else could look at and I think absolutely could be considered,” he said.


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