Your Board and Senior Staff at Work…
On May 6, 2014 a team of CPA Board members and the CEO convened a lobby day on Parliament Hill. We kicked off the day with a press conference in the Charles Lynch gallery calling on government to address barriers to accessing psychological services. These included caps on extended health coverage for psychological services, gatekeeper requirements to accessing services (i.e. requirements for medical referral), tax rules governing psychological services, and recruitment and retention of psychologists within government departments like the Department of National Defence and Correctional Services Canada. Members can view the video recording of our press conference at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW6yqsbOoRE
During the course of the day, the CPA team inclusive of President-elect, Dr. Kerry Mothersill, Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Karen Cohen and CPA Board members Dr. John Meyer, Dr. Andrea Piotrowski, and Student Board Member Justin Feeney convened meetings with Members of Parliament and Senators across political parties. These included Senators Judith Seidman, Jane Cordy and Jim Munson, MPs Murray Rankin, Terence Young, Nathan Cullen, Robert Goguen, Kirsty Duncan, and Hedy Fry. We also met with senior staff from the Office of the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and the Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition.
It was the team’s experience that the relevance and messages that CPA brought to politicians were extremely well received. That mental health issues are timely, topical and highly relevant to health, home, community and the workplace resonated widely. The briefing paper that CPA prepared for our meetings is posted here: http://www.cpa.ca/docs/File/Government Relations/2014/federal mini lobby day backgrounder may 2014FINAL.pdf. Next steps that followed from our meetings include
- Creating opportunity to present to the Senate – CPA has presented to several senatorial committees in the past. A recent example was on the use of promoters and eligibility requirements for the disability tax credit http://www.cpa.ca/docs/File/News/2014/Bill_C462_March_2014_update.pdF and another when we presented on the renewal of the 2004 health care accord http://www.cpa.ca/docs/File/Position/CPAbriefSSCommitteeNov2011FINAL.pdf
- Continuing dialogue with Treasury Board about psychological services provided to its hundreds of thousands of federal employees. As we have recently advised the membership, Treasury Board will double the coverage for psychological services afforded its employees and retirees as of October 2014 (coverage will go to $2000 per year from $1000). This is an outstanding achievement! CPA would like to see any requirement for physician referral removed – a requirement not required by legislation or scope of practice and one that impedes access. CPA would like to continue to advocate for a $3000 cap that would afford an employee closer to the 15 to 20 sessions evidence suggests is average for a psychological intervention. An alternate model CPA would like to further discuss is a basket approach to extended health services, allowing the employee to spend extended health care dollars on defined services that meet their needs.
- Continue to work with the Departments of Revenue and Finance to get clarity on the exemption of psychological services for GST/HST. CPA has convened several meetings with both departments and has been waiting for a clarification document from Revenue on this topic to which we are hoping to be able to respond http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/hoc/Committee/411/FINA/Evidence/EV6160966/FINAEV122-E.PDF
- Strategies and opportunities for the retention and recruitment of psychologists in the Canadian military. These include promoting the development of a residency training program, appointing a Chief Psychologist, and creating conditions of work, inclusive of remuneration, that incent meaningful engagement of a psychological resource.
- Importance and cost offset of providing early and timely intervention when it comes to the psychological needs of children.
- The central role of psychological health and behaviour to the prevention and management of chronic conditions and disease.
- The significant impact of mental health in the workplace and the role psychologists play in developing and evaluating programs in industry with the goals of enhancing productivity and satisfaction and reducing turnover, presenteeism and absenteeism.
- The role of psychological services in corrections and the impact of services on recidivism.
Our lobby day gave us an opportunity to reinforce messages on CPA’s agenda, to grow conversation and engagements and to get suggestions about next steps. CPA is hoping to be able to make its Board lobby days an annual event with 2015 focused on messages related to research funding and the importance of research to public policy. Stay tuned to our government relations pages for details and updates.