Launched in 2005, ACTION Ontario is an innovative not-for-profit organization. Its mandate is to advocate on behalf of patients with neuropathic pain (resulting from injury or disease of the nerves, the spinal cord or the brain), in order to secure better and faster access to pain therapies.


We operate as a volunteer board comprised of doctors and other healthcare professionals from nursing, psychology, physical therapy and other disciplines. In addition to those working in the delivery of health care, the board is rounded out with the inclusion of patient representatives and scientists researching pain mechanisms. As volunteers with ACTION, each and every one of us is committed to improving the lives of people managing with neuropathic pain.

Neuropathic Pain is not well understood by healthcare providers, policy makers, the insurance industry or the public, and as a result, the condition is under-funded and under-treated in Ontario. ACTION Ontario intends to change this. In order to more effectively treat chronic pain, more efficiently use existing health system resources and decrease total healthcare costs, we believe that a comprehensive pain strategy must be created for Ontario. In this way, we can hope for a better life for the many people who suffer from neuropathic pain.

ACTION Ontario is committed to working closely with different levels of government, researchers, physicians and other healthcare providers in order to achieve our goals of increased awareness about chronic pain and health system improvements to better diagnose, treat and understand chronic pain. Please join with us to build a better future for those with neuropathic pain.


Expanded Bios

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Dr. Angela Mailis-Gagnon was born in Athens, Greece, where she obtained her medical degree. She received specialty training in the field of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, as well as a Master degree from the University of Toronto, Canada. She specializes in chronic pain and she is the founder and director of the Comprehensive Pain Program of the Toronto Western Hospital in Toronto, Ontario. She opened in September 2015 the first best-practices interdisciplinary community clinic in Vaughan, serving the regions of York, Durham, Peel, Simcoe and Dufferin. She is a senior investigator with the Krembil Neuroscience Centre, full Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, and Chair of ACTION Ontario. She is a popular science writer (has published a book BEYOND PAIN highlighting her experience with chronic pain patients) and has written regularly for CARP Advocacy electronic letter during the period 2009-2014. She has published and lectured extensively around the world in the field of Chronic Pain.


Dr. Tara Jeji is currently the Program Director for Spinal Cord Injury Program at Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Wayne State University, Detroit, Department of PM & R. Tara serves on several service and advocacy boards to facilitate service delivery and enhance community participation and quality of life for individuals with a spinal cord injury. Tara has a personal insight of living with neuropathic pain and works towards developing a coordinated neuropathic pain strategy for those suffering with neuropathic pain.

Dr. Paul Taenzer has a PhD in clinical psychology from McGill University. He has been an active clinician, researcher and administrator in the area of pain management over the past 35 years. He and a colleague were the prime movers in starting the Calgary Chronic Pain Centre. He has recently moved to the Kingston area and continues to be active in pain research. He is particularly interested in exploring options for clinicians to learn and use the results of the latest advances in clinical pain research.

Dr. Brian Kirsh first developed his interest in pain medicine as a family doctor and then retrained as a psychiatrist to specialize in this area. After graduation in 1998, Dr. Kirsh became the Medical Director of the multidisciplinary pain program at Hamilton Health Sciences. In 2010, Dr. Kirsh returned to his hometown of Toronto and joined the team at the Comprehensive Pain Program at Toronto Western hospital under the direction of Dr. Angela Mailis. He is also on staff in the Department of Psychiatry at University Health Network. He has a private practice in downtown Toronto where he continues his work in pain medicine and general psychiatry.


Dr. Judith Hunter is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, a physical therapist, and the Canadian Paraplegic Association Ontario Research Fellow at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, where she focuses on chronic pain after spinal cord injury. She is Associate Scientific Staff at Mount Sinai Hospital, Wasser Pain Management Centre and a founding member of the University of Toronto Centre for the Study of Pain. Her research aims to understand individual differences in chronic pain patients after neurological injury to provide targeted, tailored, comprehensive pain management. During her PhD studies, Dr. Hunter received a fellowship from the PFC-CIHR Collaboration, and CIHR Strategic Training Program in Cell Signaling and Mucosal Inflammation fellowship. She was also a multiple recipient of the Clinician-Scientist Award from the UT Centre for the Study of Pain (UTCSP). Dr. Hunter is Chair of the innovative “Interfaculty Pain Curriculum,” which won the Northrop Frye Award for linking research to education and instructs 800 students from six health science faculties at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Barry Sessle is Professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry and Faculty of Medicine, a member of the Centre for the Study of Pain, and is the holder of a Canada Research Chair. He is also an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and member of the Canadian Academy of Science. He is a Past- President of the Canadian Pain Society and a Past-President of the International Association for the Study of Pain.

Jennifer Tyrrell (RN, MN) is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Chronic Pain Clinic at The Hospital for Sick Children. Jennifer completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing at the University of Toronto. She has worked at SickKids in various roles since 1993, including Clinical Nurse Specialist on the Acute Pain Service and in the outpatient chronic pain clinic since 2007. Jennifer's role in the Chronic Pain Clinic includes supporting children, teens and families in understanding the pain management plan. Jennifer acts as a resource to schools and community health-care agencies to help support children with chronic pain at home. Jennifer is a member of the Canadian Pain Society and the International Association for the Study of Pain and is a board member with Action Ontario. She contributes to the advancement of paediatric pain management through educational and scholarly publications.

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Lisa Hooper, Chair Lisa Hooper is the Chair of Action Ontario, PNP Steering Committee.  Action Ontario ( is dedicated to pioneering higher quality pain management, education, strategies, and care throughout Ontario for patients battling chronic pain.  Her calling is to passionately advocate on behalf of patients via pain management consulting with other patients, health care professionals, and government officials/organizations.  As well as her personal experience as a patient, she also has training in various self-management programs:  Stanford Peer Leader and Chronic Pain Self- management, C.P.A.C pain group facilitating and participates in mindfulness and other therapies.  Prior to her M.V.A in 2007 she worked for 23 years in Executive Management and HR. Volunteering enriches one's life, so if you are interested please email her:

Joe Italiano 


Glen Hutzul, Co-Chair I experienced chronic pain for much of my first five years of life but also for the last twenty years. A workplace injury in 2002 ended my paid employment. Effective pain management programs and adequate pain reduction medications allowed me to regain hope and to continue living independently. I firmly believe that as long as chronic pain patients are given the resources that we need, ‘LIFE CAN STILL BE RICH WHEN LIVED AT LESS THAN FULL STRENGTH’!

My education consists of a B. of Applied Arts and a B. of Education. During the 1990’s, I was the Co-Chair of the Health & Safety Committee for Skydome Corporation. I was Certified as the Employee Rep. by the Ont. Health & Safety Agency after training in courses such as Hazard Analysis, Emergency Preparedness, Due Diligence and Accident Prevention. 

Since 2002, I have participated in a Functional Restoration Program, both the Stanford Chronic Health and Chronic Pain Programs, followed by Certification in the Stanford Peer Leader Pain Program. I have also completed the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy [CBT] Program at Bridgepoint Hospital. I am a co-founder of the chronic pain support group, ‘CPACtoronto’ [and the former support group, “New Outlook’]. 

Therese Lane

Julie Feldman

Nikki Vernon