McMaster University

Michael G. DeGroote
National Pain Centre

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Michael G. DeGroote National Pain Centre

Canadian Pain Task Force

At the Canadian Pain Society 2019 Annual Scientific Meeting, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced the establishment of the Canadian Pain Task Force.

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. In addition to the Task Force itself, an External Advisory Panel was formed to provide advice and information on certain elements of the Task Force’s mandate. Four members of the Task Force and four members of the Advisory Panel also have ties to the Canadian Pain Care Forum and its continued work towards a National Pain Strategy. The National Pain Centre's own director, Dr. Norm Buckley, was asked and has accepted a position on the Panel.

The Panel has already met with the Task Force once and looks forward to continuing to provide valuable input to help address this issue.  


The 2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain

The 2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain was developed in response to concerns that Canadians are the second highest users per capita of opioids in the world, while the rates of opioid prescribing and opioid-related hospital visits and deaths have been increasing rapidly.

The guideline's recommendations for clinical practice have been developed by an international team of clinicians, researchers and patients, led by the Michael G. DeGroote National Pain Centre at McMaster University and funded by Health Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The guideline was published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

The guideline incorporates medical evidence published since the previous national opioid use guideline was made available in 2010. They are recommendations for physicians, but are not regulatory requirements.

The guideline does not look at opioid use for acute pain, nor for patients with pain due to cancer or in palliative care, or those under treatment for opioid use disorder or opioid addiction.

2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain



A Pillar of the Michael G. DeGroote Centre Institute for Pain Research and Care

The Michael G. DeGroote National Pain Centre is the third pillar in the tripod of what we anticipate will be an internationally important initiative.

In Hamilton, the identification of the problem of chronic pain and the need for development of effective treatment is increasingly absorbing more attention and focus.

We have the basic science program currently in the Institute for Pain Research and Care, robustly accented with related research in its sister institutes.

McMaster and Hamilton Health Sciences currently operate the largest university-affiliated pain centre in Canada, with over 13,000 patient visits annually. This provides clinical care as well as training for health care professionals in pain management, and a unique opportunity to evaluate the impact of guidelines on care.

The combination of basic science, clinical care and education, and now the National Pain Centre’s development of best practice guidelines will make the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care unequalled in the international quest to resolve the problem of chronic pain.



News and Announcements

  • Developing a National Pain Strategy for Canada – The McMaster Health Forum convened a stakeholder dialogue, December 14, 2017, on the subject of developing a national pain strategy for Canada.  With the support of the Institute for Pain Research and Care, in the context of support for the Chronic Pain Network, which is part of Canada’s Strategy for Patient Oriented Research (SPOR), the dialogue brought together 24 participants from across Canada to examine the problem, elements of a comprehensive approach for addressing it, and key implementation considerations.  To read the overview, evidence brief and dialogue summary visit the McMaster Health Forum website: 

  • Dr. Jason Busse awarded $2.2M from CIHR to investigate "Cognitive behavioural therapy to improve patient outcomes following internal fixation of extremity fractures: A randomized controlled trial". (Jan 2018)

  • Canadian Pain Care Forum - In June 2016 a small organizing committee held the first Canadian Pain Care Forum (CPCF) at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, ON. The goal of this initiative is to engage a wide-ranging group of organizations and people to address the problems of pain care in Canada.  The belief is that inadequate understanding of pain as a problem is one of the roots of the current crisis of opioid misuse. The focus of the CPCF is to develop and advocate for the implementation of a National Pain Strategy that will improve current management, education and research of pain for patients across Canada. CPCF background document
  • Atlantic Mentorship Network Conference - 'Professional Collaboration - A Team Approach in Pain & Addiction Management', March 1-2, 2018, Atlantica Hotel Halifax, NS. Registration information

  • North American Pain School, Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello, Montebello, QC, June 24-28, 2018. Application deadline: February, 15, 2018.
  • Opioid Manager Updated - The Opioid Manager, a tool designed to support healthcare providers in prescribing and managing opioids for patients with chronic non-cancer pain has recently been updated.  All information is based on the 2017 Canadian Opioid Guideline.  Additional tools available include Appendix A, a fillable checklist for the patient’s file when starting or continuing a trial of opioid therapy; and Appendix B, a tool for maintenance and monitoring of an opioid therapy trial.  (Nov 2017) 

  • The updated course "Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain: Using the Canadian Guideline in Your Practice" is now available through  Funding to support development of this program was provided as part of the Health Canada award to update the Canadian Opioid Guideline.  (Nov 2017) 

  • 2017 Canadian Opioid Prescribing Guideline SummaryEnglish / French
  • Drs. Jason Busse and James MacKillop co-lead a new research centre, the multidisciplinary Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research.  (Nov 7 2017)

  • National opioid guideline puts emphasis on harm reduction.  Article in the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario 'Dialogue' Volume 13, Issue 2, p 24 (2017).

  • CIHR Assessment of the 2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain concludes the Guideline provides unbiased, evidence-based guidance to clinicians on opioid prescribing practice that is aligned with international comparators.  EN:; FR: 

  • Health Quality Ontario seeks your feedback on their public comment surveys on “Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain” and “Opioid Prescribing for Acute Pain”.  These surveys will feed into a comprehensive consultation report.

  • Dr. Norm Buckley speaks with Zoomer Radio regarding Canada's Opioid Crisis (Aug 23 2017)
  • The Chronic Pain Network website -

  • Chronic Pain Network Newsletter - Message from the CPN Scientific Director, network profile and coming events in the Chronic Pain Network Newsletter - April 2017 edition.

  • The SPOR Chronic Pain Network led by Dr. Norm Buckley was awarded $12.5 million from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) under Canada’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) .  Dr. Buckley, Scientific Director for the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care will bring national teams together to carry out laboratory and clinical research studies to identify new treatments to manage and prevent chronic pain.  Patients and professionals will be trained to work together.  Training programs will develop new researchers and support education for healthcare professionals about pain and its treatment.  A network of pain clinics across the country will support large scale studies of pain treatment and ensure that new knowledge is quickly moved into practice.  The SPOR Chronic Pain Network will be a patient-centred project that engages patients as partners, focusing on patient-identified priorities to improve their health outcomes, identify new treatments, and deliver a more effective health care system to Canadians.  See the official announcement by Canada’s Health Minister: here