The Canadian Physiotherapy Association Kicks Off National Physiotherapy Month with the Release of a New Position Paper on Pain Management and Rehabilitation in Canada

May 1, 2023

Today, to kick off its National Physiotherapy Month celebrations, the Canadian Physiotherapy Association and its Working Group on Pain Advocacy released Position Paper from the Physiotherapy Profession: A Key Player in Realizing the Action Plan for Pain in Canada. The paper is a response to the Canadian Pain Task Force’s Action Plan for Pain in Canada, which identifies the urgent need to take action on pain management, in light of shortcomings in the Canadian health system exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, growing income inequity, and the opioid overdose crisis.

The position paper details the ways that physiotherapy professionals — in collaboration with other health providers — can lead and inform non-pharmacological pain management in Canada, and makes seven key recommendations to federal health regulators:

  • Adopt a chronic care model in the health care system that can effectively address chronic health conditions in addition to acute health problems;
  • Support physiotherapist–physician partnerships through an evidence-based, harmonized, and interdisciplinary approach to pain management;
  • Support innovative non-pharmacological practices, including telehealth and online care;
  • Expand Canada’s publicly funded universal healthcare plan to balance access to non-pharmacological treatment options with the high accessibility of pharmacological options such as opioids;
  • Increase access for populations in greatest need by integrating physiotherapists into inter-professional and family health teams and improving pain specialization outside urban areas;
  • Raise awareness of prevention practices among Canadians; and
  • Increase financial support for advanced pain management education to establish a cohort of chronic pain experts among Canadian healthcare professionals.

“The convergence of the opioid crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic have intensified the urgent need for a new approach to pain care in Canada,” said Amanda de Chastelain, President, Canadian Physiotherapy Association. “Physiotherapy professionals have the education, training and experience in treating their patients’ pain using non-pharmacological methods, and do so on a daily basis. Across the country, physiotherapy professionals are taking the lead on advocating for innovative non-pharmacological approaches to pain management and rehabilitation — but we know there is still much more we can do to help Canadians living with chronic pain. We call on federal health regulators to act on the recommendations put forth in our position paper and increase supports for non-pharmacological pain management across Canada.”

In addition to putting forth the recommendations to federal health regulators, Position Paper from the Physiotherapy Profession: A Key Player in Realizing the Action Plan for Pain in Canada identifies ways that physiotherapy professionals can co-lead or inform recommendations within each of the six key goals identified in the Canadian Pain Task Force’s Action Plan:

  • Collaboration and leadership on pain care;
  • Access to timely, equitable, and person-centred care;
  • Awareness, education, and specialized training for pain;
  • Supporting pain research;
  • Population health and health system quality; and
  • Ensuring equitable approaches for populations disproportionately impacted by pain. 

“Physiotherapy professionals are committed to acting as leaders, collaborative partners, and key informants to help transform how pain is understood and treated,” said Arthur Woznowski-Vu, Chair of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association’s Pain Science Division and Lead of the Working Group on Pain Advocacy. “We are strongly positioned to answer the calls to action included in the Canadian Pain Task Force’s Action Plan, as we are skilled at providing evidence-based, non-pharmacological, compassionate, and person-centred pain care.”

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association will continue to celebrate National Physiotherapy Month throughout May with the release of additional resources related to this year’s theme, Physiotherapy: Leading Action Toward Better Pain Management and Rehabilitation. For more information on National Physiotherapy Month, visit the Canadian Physiotherapy Association website.

Quick Facts

  • Nearly 8 million people (1 in 5 people, across the lifespan) are affected by chronic pain or live with pain-related disability in Canada (An Action Plan for Pain in Canada, March 2021).
  • Health Canada predicts that the number of individuals living with chronic pain will increase by 17.5% by 2030 as the population ages and grows (Government of Canada, 2021).
  • All demographics in Canada are impacted by pain, but not equally. Those who are impacted disproportionately include older adults, those living in poverty, those with mental health challenges or substance use disorders, those in the trades and transportation industries, veterans, Indigenous Peoples, some ethnic and racialized communities, sexually and gender diverse persons, those who have experienced trauma or violence, persons with disabilities, and women (Government of Canada, 2021).  
  • The economic burden of chronic pain is approximately $60 billion per year (Government of Canada, 2020). Achievement of just a one-percent reduction in the number of Canadians living with chronic pain could translate into annual savings of up to $188.5 million in direct healthcare costs (An Action Plan for Pain in Canada, March 2021).
  • There are currently more than 27,000 registered physiotherapists in Canada (Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2022).


Position Paper from the Physiotherapy Profession: A Key Player in Realizing the Action Plan for Pain in Canada, Working Group on Pain Advocacy, Canadian Physiotherapy Association

An Action Plan for Pain in Canada, Canadian Pain Task Force, Health Canada

National Physiotherapy Month website and social media kit.


Kayla Scott
Senior Director, Advocacy, Canadian Physiotherapy Association

Caitlin Drake Smith
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer