February seems to me the border dividing the briefest days of winter and the promise of spring. As a month, it is a leaping off point for the remainder of the year. There is a sense of anticipation to February, despite the cold. For our Association, there is much to look forward to in the coming year, as I will explain.
Annual Conference and General Meeting In Person Once More
This year will mark the return of an in-person annual conference and general meeting, in one of our usual haunts. For two days (September 29 and 30), we will hold our Meeting at the Radisson Blu Toronto Downtown Hotel. This will be a wonderful opportunity for us to see each other’s faces again, network with colleagues and learn collectively. It’s no wonder then that the heart of this year’s conference is 'togetherness'.
With this focus in mind, you can expect that we will explore how we as mental health professionals of all types can collaborate, integrate and indeed thrive while practicing at the centre of an acknowledged mental health crisis. Our goal as an Association is to be a home for all mental health professionals. You can expect that this year’s conference will explore how we can build communities of practice and how we can, as a collective, take our rightful place at the table when matters of vital importance for mental health care are being discussed and decided upon.
Please put the date in your calendar; more details are to come.
Advocacy Push Continues
Taking our seat at those tables where mental health policy is being formulated has been a central theme of our ongoing work. Much has been done since I last reported to you in December. This is a three pronged approach.
1. System integration – as Ontario’s health system continues to transform, we have been engaging with government and stakeholders and providing recommendations on how best to integrate our members into existing and proposed models of care. We are also exploring the implementation of government strategies like the Roadmap to Wellness.
2. Reducing barriers to access – we continue to press forward to make registered psychotherapist provided psychotherapy exempt from both federal and provincial taxes. This has taken many forms, from meeting with the Official Opposition’s Mental Health Critic to providing a brief to Ontario’s Finance Minister ahead of the Provincial Budget. I will be blunt, we will continue to be a dog with a bone on this issue. You can expect us to amplify our advocacy. We have waited 10 years for movement on this file. It is time for both federal and provincial governments to set aside their tax revenue targets and to deliver on their mental health promises.
3. Enhancing insurance coverage – we have been successful in getting insurance companies to add registered psychotherapists to their base benefit plans, ensuring that covered individuals can access needed mental health care. Given the extensive wait times in hospital and other OHIP funded care settings, this is essential for the mental wellbeing of Ontarians.
Bill C-218 - A Federal Act to Amend the Excise Tax Act (Psychotherapy Services)
The advocacy momentum continues to build at the federal level. In late 2021, London-Fanshawe Member of Parliament, Lindsay Matthyssen, introduced a private Member’s bill that, if passed, would exempt psychotherapists from the HST. The bill has, to date, only passed first reading and its passage is far from certain (given that it is a private Member’s bill. As finance legislation, it would require sponsorship by a member of the government). However, it is heartening to see such awareness at the political level.
Despite the delays in bringing this legislation forward, MP Matthyssen intends to table the petition in support of this bill. With more than 14,000 signatures, we would expect that this action will shine a spotlight on this inequitable taxation and the grassroots support for its removal.
Bill 61 - Making Psychotherapy Services Tax-Free Act
In a follow up to last week’s message, on February 21, 2023, NDP MPPs Jill Andrew and France Gélinas introduced Bill 61, Making Psychotherapy Services Tax-Free Act into the provincial legislature for its first reading.
To support the bill, we encourage you to click here to sign the petition and urge you to get in touch with your local MPP. We’ve included a script on https://oamhp.ca/make-psychotherapy-tax-free-act/.
CRPO QA Assessment
Our Executive Director, Maryann Istiloglu and I, continue to meet with CRPO’s Registrar regularly to clarify issues and advocate for OAMHP. Together, Maryann and I have provided feedback to the College about its consultations and QA assessment and the need to clarify some of the questions within.
Recognizing that this assessment has been anxiety producing to many members, I am offering peer support sessions to help members prep for this, along with my colleague and past President, Jane Alway, in April and onwards. To sign up for a session, click here: https://oamhp.ca/peer-support-qa-assessment/ to complete the form.
We continue to create events that help with members’ professional development. The following are two in-person events, that are topical right now.
- Working with 2SLGBTQ+ Youth in a Clinical Setting
- Full day workshop: Supervision – the Evolution of Practice
Visit the website at https://oamhp.ca/upcoming-pd-events/ and keep an eye out in the Pulse for registration details.
Your Participation Most Welcome
Your Board of Directors continue to hold productive meetings as we follow our strategic plan. For interested members, there are opportunities to serve on Board communities and help us advance our objectives. Alternatively, you can share your feedback on any issue with me directly at: email@example.com.
I look forward to the next opportunity to apprise you of our progress on many fronts. Thank you for your continued interest and involvement; together we continue to ensure that OAMHP is a vital, energetic and relevant organization at the service of its members.
Liana Palmerio-McIvor, RP, (Cert-S) OAMHP