In November 2016, AFMC was invited, along with many of our sister organizations in medical education and health care, to participate in the Summit on Problematic Opioid Use held by Health Canada and the then Federal Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Philpott. Multiple organizations committed to specific goals and projects over the following year to help address the crisis and improve the national situation. AFMC’s Commitment to the Health Canada Joint Statement of Action was as follows:

AFMC Opioid Report

1. Continuing to ensure that the accreditation standards for Canada's medical schools include instruction in the diagnosis, prevention, appropriate reporting and treatment of the medical consequences of common societal problems, including the opioid crisis.


2. By November 2017, having faculty experts: a) Review opioid educational activities currently in use in its 17 faculties of medicine; b) Create and share a repository of educational products that reflect best practice and c) provide them to all faculties.

To fulfill the commitment to Health Canada, AFMC reviewed the accreditation standards for undergraduate medical education.

AFMC also conducted an environmental scan of offerings across Canadian medical schools and convened three expert panel meetings to review the curricula and teaching currently being provided in undergraduate medical education (UGME), postgraduate medical education (PGME) and continuing professional development (CPD). Responding schools provided some best practices of teaching and evaluating in opioid prescribing and/or pain management, primarily in non-cancer pain. In consequence, a robust repository has been created that will be disseminated widely and shared on the AFMC website. Many of the best practices demonstrate innovative and forward-thinking contributions by medical school curricula to curb the opioid epidemic, by providing physicians in training with a strong foundation in prevention/harm reduction, identifying substance use disorders, and when to refer patients for appropriate treatment. The process also engaged leading experts in pain, addictions and substance abuse as well as thought-leaders in several panel discussions to address the opioid crisis and craft key recommendations to leverage the role of the Faculties of Medicine in medical education across UGME, PGME and CPD. 

Opioid Crisis

The AFMC Faculties’ role in educating physicians, overseeing the accreditation of undergraduate MD programs and the accreditation of Continuing Professional Development offices, is an important one. The expert panels recommended that the Canadian Faculties of Medicine enhance their existing curricula in opioid use and abuse, pain management, and substance use disorders by broadly sharing and disseminating the best practices. As well, the panels recommended the Faculties evaluate their curriculum and assess learning outcomes in medical schools, residency programs and professional development offerings. Finally, they supported advancing research especially on the impact of new curricula in physician knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviours and competencies in the diagnosis, management and treatment of pain, opioid prescribing patterns, addictions and substance abuse.

See the full report submitted to Health Canada on AFMC’s response.