Launch of the Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans

This non-profit organization will lead Canada in Veteran-first chronic pain research

HAMILTON, Ontario, May 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans

The Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans (Centre of Excellence) is proud to announce its official launch at McMaster University’s Faculty of Health Sciences. With more than 40% of Canadian Veterans suffering from chronic pain, the Centre of Excellence will focus on pain management research and evidence-based therapies that address Veterans’ complex chronic pain challenges and needs.

The Centre of Excellence is a national research institution that works with Veterans and their families.  The Centre will build a knowledge system and develop evidence-based pain management therapies that will shape the future of Veteran-first chronic pain management. Equipped with this research, the Centre of Excellence will provide training and education to care teams across the country.  This will allow Veterans access to evidence-based, high-quality pain management services closer to home.

The new Centre of Excellence is guided by the principle of working with Veterans in its research and operations to ensure its research addresses what Veterans need to better manage their pain.  While the mandate of the Centre of Excellence focuses on Veterans, its research-based learnings may ultimately help both Veterans and civilians alike, and improve the understanding and care of chronic pain for all Canadians.

Budget 2019 announced $20.1 million in funding over five years from Veterans Affairs Canada, with $5 million annually per year ongoing to establish the Centre, in order to conduct research into innovative pain management therapies. The Centre’s research will be shared with a network of academic institutions as well as university- and community-based clinics across Canada.

On the Centre of Excellence’s website, Veterans, clinicians, researchers, and Canadians can read its research insights and access the list of partner clinics that deliver evidence-based care to Veterans and their families.


“As Veterans, we believe that no one should be left behind. That’s what drives the Centre of Excellence. Chronic pain is a vicious cycle where you feel hopeless, broken, and isolated. By getting involved with the Centre of Excellence, Veterans can reconnect with each other and break that cycle, and help our brothers and sisters in pain. We can feel hope again.”

Derek Speirs*, Veteran, advocate for Veterans’ issues and volunteer with the Centre of Excellence

*Mr. Speirs is former submariner who was involved in the 2004 HMCS Chicoutimi submarine fire. He experienced a PTSD-induced seizure following the incident, which resulted in six fractured vertebrae and being medically released from service.

“At the Centre of Excellence, Veterans are at the heart of everything we do, from setting the research agenda, to designing pain management therapies, to working with pain clinics and other care providers so that Veterans across the country can access care closer to home. With Veterans among our executive leadership, on our Board of Directors, and involved in our research through our nation-wide Veterans Advisory Groups, the Centre of Excellence is truly by and for Veterans. We can finally serve those who served.”

Dr. Ramesh Zacharias, President, CEO, and Medical Director of the Centre of Excellence

“Canadian Veterans have served this country with pride and distinction and they deserve quality, respectful care. I look forward to seeing the positive impacts that the Centre of Excellence will have in supporting clinicians and health care providers with increased knowledge and understanding of how to best support Veterans who live with chronic pain.”

Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

“McMaster University is one of Canada’s leaders in medical research. Our government is proud to be working with McMaster to launch Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans. Canadian veterans who are struggling with chronic pain will be well-served by its world-class facilities for years to come. The Centre of Excellence is another example of how the Hamilton community steps up for veterans, and for Canada, when and where it is needed most.”

Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour and Member of Parliament for Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas

Quick Facts

  • As a leader in Veteran-first chronic pain research, the Centre of Excellence is building a national network of pain clinics, researchers, and patients, to help improve the lives of Veterans and their families suffering from chronic pain.
  • Veterans with chronic pain face unique challenges, such as PTSD and other forms of mental illness, and often isolate themselves from their community because they do not want to be a burden. Treating Veterans therefore requires an interdisciplinary approach to pain management with an intimate understanding of their particular needs, which much of the current pain management system does not have the research or the resources to provide.
  • The Centre of Excellence’s research will take an interdisciplinary approach to exploring barriers to access care, Veterans’ experiences with the discharge process from active service, the interchange between civilian and Veterans Affairs Canada services, and the intersection chronic pain has with mental illness and feelings of isolation.

Associated Links

Zoë Knowles
Associate, Communications
Sussex Strategy Group

John Embury
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Photos accompanying this announcement are available at:

Derek Speirs Dr. Ramesh Zacharias Dr. Ramesh Zacharias Headshot Marieanne Nyhuis