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St. Joseph's Care Group Expands Chronic Pain Management Program

Chronic Pain Management Funding
Chronic Pain Management Funding

Date: 2016-11-09

The Chronic Pain Management Program at St. Joseph's Care Group has received an additional $1.1 million dollars per year as part of Ontario's Opioid Strategy.

Announcement from Bill Mauro, MPP, Thunder Bay-Atikokan at 1:00pm on November 4, 2016 follows below:

Helping Patients in Thunder Bay Manage Chronic Pain

Ontario Taking Action to Prevent Opioid Abuse

Date: 2016-11-04

Ontario is helping patients in Thunder Bay manage chronic pain and avoid the use of prescription pain killers by investing $1,079 883 to St. Joseph’s Care Group and $280,500 to Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre for their newly expanded pain clinics.

Ontario is implementing its first comprehensive Opioid strategy to prevent opioid addiction and overdose by enhancing data collection, modernizing prescribing and dispensing practices, and connecting patients with high quality addiction treatment services.

As part of this plan, the government is investing in Ontario's Chronic Pain Network to create or enhance 17 chronic pain clinics across the province. Two new chronic pain clinics in Thunder Bay, at St. Joseph Care Group and Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, are helping patients in Thunder Bay through multi-disciplinary care teams ensuring that patients receive timely and appropriate care to help them manage chronic pain.

Ontario's strategy to prevent addiction and overdose also includes:

  • Designating Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, as Ontario's first-ever Provincial Overdose Coordinator to launch a new surveillance and reporting system to better respond to opioid overdoses in a timely manner and inform how best to direct care. 
  • Developing evidence-based standards for health care providers on appropriate opioid prescribing that will be released by end of 2017-18 to help prevent the unnecessary dispensing and over-prescribing of pain killers.
  • Delisting high-strength formulations of long-acting opioids from the Ontario Drug Benefit Formulary starting January 1, 2017 to help prevent addiction and support appropriate prescribing.
  • Expanding access to naloxone overdose medication, available free of charge for patients and their families through pharmacies and eligible organizations to prevent overdose deaths.
  • Increasing access to Suboxone addiction treatment and improving patient outcomes and integration of care for those using this treatment.
  • Beginning October 1, 2016, stricter controls on the prescribing and dispensing of fentanyl patches took effect. Patients are now required to return used fentanyl patches to their pharmacy before more patches can be dispensed.

Ontario’s opioid strategy was informed by the recommendations of the Methadone Treatment and Services Advisory Committee, which was established by the province to advise on strengthening Ontario’s methadone treatment and related services. Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Dr. Williams have written to all health care providers in Ontario outlining the strategy and enlisting their support to help prevent and reduce opioid addiction and overdose. The government will continue to seek input on the strategy and identify additional areas for consideration.

Modernizing pain management practices and preventing opioid addiction and overdose is part of the government's plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care. The action plan provides patients with faster access to the right care, better home and community care, the information they need to live healthy, and a health care system that is sustainable for generations to come.


“The work that our city’s two pain clinics are undertaking to assist patients with the management of chronic and acute pain is a critical component of our Province’s Opioid Strategy.  The prevention and management of opioid addictions is critical as we continue to work to improve the overall wellness and safety of our Communities; and at the same time increase economic opportunities for our citizens.”
- Bill Mauro, MPP Thunder Bay Atikokan

“Ontario’s strategy to modernize the prescription and dispensing system of painkillers is a positive step forward in the prevention of opioid addiction and overdose. The additional funding to our chronic pain clinics in Thunder Bay will ensure that patients receive responsible and timely care”
- Michael Gravelle, MPP Thunder Bay- Superior North

“This funding has allowed St. Joseph’s Care Group to enhance and expand its Chronic Pain Management Program, giving people more options and more access to alternative methods of managing chronic pain. What’s important to our clients is having the knowledge and skills to self-manage chronic pain so that they can take back control of their lives and participate in the things that matter most to them.”
- Tracy Buckler, President and CEO of St. Joseph’s Care Group

“Our Comprehensive Pain Management Program provides effective pain management for both acute and chronic pain, while improving the overall patient experience, including patient satisfaction and comfort, thus enabling patients to concentrate on health recovery. I am grateful to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for helping improve the quality of life for our patients and families across Northwestern Ontario.”
- Dr. Rhonda Crocker Ellacott, EVP, Patient Services & Chief Nursing Officer, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre

Background Information
Quick Facts
  • In 2014, over 700 people died in Ontario from opioid-related causes, a 266 per cent increase since 2002.
  • Suboxone is used to treat opioid addiction. The risk of a fatal overdose on Suboxone is significantly less than with methadone.
  • The Methadone Treatment and Service
  • s Advisory Committee is comprised of addiction experts, experienced clinicians and patient advocates from across Ontario.
  • Ontario’s actions build on the 2012 expert working group report Stewardship for Prescription Narcotics in Ontario.
  • In fall 2016, public consultations will be held with families, caregivers, academics and health care providers, people with lived experience, among others, to seek input on the strategy and to identify additional important considerations. You can send your comments to:
Hyperlink to Opioids Backgrounder
Learn More

For Media Inquiries Only

Lindsay Fron
Office of MPP Bill Mauro
(807) 623-9237

James Carlton
Office of the Honourable Michael Gravelle
(416) 327-1208


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