The Ontario Liberals on Wednesday announced an expansion of the Ministry of Health's low back pain strategy.

The government says it will spend $2.3 million to create seven pilot projects across the province.

The chosen locations will be able to provide additional hours for a range of allied health providers such as chiropractors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, kinesiologists and registered massage therapists to:

  • Provide faster, more accurate assessment of low back pain problems.
  • Use a more holistic approach to treating patients suffering from low back pain.
  • Educate patients on low back pain self-management techniques.
  • Refer patients to an appropriate health care provider as needed.

The Ontario Chiropractic Association welcomed the announcement.

It says low back pain affects 85 per cent of the working population at some point in their life and is second only to the common cold as a cause of lost work time.

"Improving the quality and delivery of treatment for low back pain can make a life-changing difference to thousands of people in the province," Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Eric Hoskins said in a media release. "Expanding the availability of low back pain supports means that more Ontarians will get the right care, at the right time, in the right place."

Chiropractors will have a significant role in six of those pilot projects.

"A collaborative, team-based approach can be very beneficial to Ontarians with low back pain," Kristina Peterson, president of the Ontario Chiropractic Association, said in a release.

According to the Ontario Chiropractic Association:

  • The Public Health Agency of Canada found that, in 2008, the direct costs, including drug, hospital, and physician care of low back pain care in Ontario amounted to more than $390 million.
  • In 2012 nearly 20 per cent of Ontarians reported that their back problems were chronic.
  • In 2013 the WSIB reported that over the previous 10 years, low back pain was the leading part of the body injured, accounting for 17-18 per cent of lost time claims.

The seven locations are Windsor-Essex, Orilla, Scarborough, Sudbury, Belleville, North Glengary and a partnership of family health teams in Mount Forest, East Wellington and Minto-Mapleton.