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Chronic Pain: Medical and legal experts demystify the issues

Thursday, August 16, 2018, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

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Jon Chapnick

Senior Advisor, Workplace Mental Health
University of British Columbia
Anne Gregory

Legal Counsel
Manitoba Nurses Union


Brian Wasyliw

Employer Counsel
Sherrard Kuzz
Dr. Hillel Finestone

Clinical Investigator, Bruyère Research Institute; Director of Stroke Rehabilitation Research, Bruyère Continuing Care; Physiatrist, Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital

E. Murphy Fries

Union Counsel
Koskie Glavin Gordon


With an estimated 1 in 5 Canadians suffering from some type of chronic pain, the condition is so prevalent that it cannot be ignored by workplace parties. Given the subjective nature of pain, sufferers can encounter barriers in obtaining an appropriate diagnosis and receiving adequate treatment of their symptoms. Indeed, since chronic pain is a non-evident condition that is frequently misunderstood, sufferers can often be stigmatized as malingerers. Unfortunately the pain they experience is very real, impacting all facets of their lives including work attendance, productivity, and career progression. Because employers and unions may not fully appreciate the challenges posed by chronic pain, they may encounter difficulties in identifying suitable accommodations for an episodic condition that does not follow a predictable course of recovery. In this session, experienced medical and legal practitioners will provide an overview of the condition and discuss its impacts on the workplace, including:

  • Understanding chronic pain: How is chronic pain defined? Is it an episodic condition or do symptoms tend to remain stable over time? What are some of the common physical and psychological impacts of chronic pain? What treatments are available to manage the condition?
  • Impact on the workplace: How does chronic pain impact attendance and work performance? Are there typical work restrictions or functional limitations that arise either from the condition itself or from the side-effects of common treatments?
  • Requesting medical information: Does the nature of the condition create any particular challenges in obtaining medical information for the purpose of validating absences and identifying suitable accommodations? How should employers tailor their requests for medical information to ensure that they receive adequate information? What information can an employer expect to receive in order to ensure that it can meet its duty to accommodate?
  • Providing suitable accommodations: What are some examples of appropriate accommodations for an employee who suffers from chronic pain? Are there any particular challenges that are frequently encountered in assessing whether an accommodation is suitable? Are there any other measures that employers and unions can take to support an employee with chronic pain?

Additional Information

Valuable, up-to-date materials and case summaries will be available for downloading from our website. Each audio conference is accompanied by a PDF of concise summaries of the cases discussed.

Audio conference MP3 files are available for $255. Those who have purchased the live audio conference may purchase the corresponding downloadable audio MP3 file for the discounted price of $155.

The recorded MP3 file and materials are available for download one business day after the live audio conference. After purchasing, you will receive an e-mail with instructions on how to access and download the audio conference MP3 file and materials by visiting My Account and selecting Order History. For audio file purchases for upcoming audio conferences, once the MP3 file is available through our site, registrants will receive an update e-mail informing them that the links are now ready.

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