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April 22, 2021

Is Pain What the Patient Says It Is? How our bias can impact how we treat pain

Is Pain What the Patient Says It Is? How our bias can impact how we treat  pain

Is Pain What the Patient Says It Is? How our bias can impact how we treat pain


In this episode, Amie and Sara talk pain management with the Canadian Medical Association President-Elect Dr. Alika Lafontaine.  We discuss the subjectivity and management of pain in racialized communities and marginalized individuals. We focus on issues related to pain from the perspectives of the care provider and the patient. We also outline practical approaches and tangible solutions on how healthcare providers can improve their assessment, approach and understanding of pain management. This episode is a tool everyone should have in their healthcare toolkit. 

Dr. Lafontaine is an award-winning physician who practises anesthesia in Grande Prairie, Alberta.

He was born and raised in Treaty 4 Territory (Southern Saskatchewan) and has Anishinaabe, Cree, Metis and Pacific Islander ancestry.

Pending confirmation of his nomination by CMA General Council this August, Dr. Lafontaine will serve as president-elect until August 2022, when he will become CMA president. 

Dr. Alika Lafontaine is the first Indigenous doctor listed in Medical Post’s 50 Most Powerful Doctors. He was born and raised in Treaty 4 Territory (Southern Saskatchewan) and has Anishinaabe, Cree, Metis and Pacific Islander ancestry. He currently lives, works and plays in Treaty 8 Territory in Northern Alberta.

Dr. Lafontaine has served in medical leadership positions for almost two decades. Alberta Medical Association: representative forum (since 2012), nominations committee, Indigenous health committee, current board member. Canadian Medical Association: Alberta AGM delegate, appointments committee, Chair governance council Canadian Medical Association Journal. Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada: Indigenous health advisory committee, search/selection subcommittees, Chair regional advisory committee (western provinces), current council member. HealthCareCAN: current board member. Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada: vice-President and President. Lead and core team member of various Indigenous and non-Indigenous

health transformations within Saskatchewan, Alberta and nationally.

From 2013-2017 Dr. Lafontaine co-led the Indigenous Health Alliance project, one of the most ambitious health transformation initiatives in Canadian history. Led politically by Indigenous leadership representing more than 150 First Nations across three provinces, the Alliance successfully advocated for $68 million of federal funding towards Indigenous health transformation within Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. He was recognized for his work in the Alliance by the Public Policy Forum where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented the award.

Dr. Lafontaine is also a past recipient of the Canadian Medical Association Award for Young Leaders (Early Career) and the Canadian Medical Association Sir Charles Tupper Award for Political Action. He remains the youngest recipient of the Indspire Award, the highest honour the Indigenous community bestows upon its own people.

In 2020, Dr. Lafontaine launched the Safespace Networks project with friendship centres across British Columbia. Safespace Networks provides a safe and anonymous workflow to report and identify patterns of care; patients and providers use the platform to share their own experiences and contribute to system change without the risk of retaliation for sharing their truths. It provides a learning system approach for identifying and intervening in issues with patterns of practice anonymously, before they become official concerns or complaints.

Dr. Lafontaine continues to practise anesthesia in Grande Prairie, where he has lived with his wife and four children for the last ten years.

Twitter @AlikaMD