APA’s Proposal to Change its Dues Agreements with Fraternal Associations: Implications for Members of the CPA

(January 21, 2011):  For many years the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) have had a dues agreement. A psychologist resident in Canada who was a member of the CPA could join the APA at 50% of the APA member rate. In August of 2010, the CPA received a letter from the APA informing us that it intended to submit a proposal to its Council of Representatives (CoR) that this agreement be terminated. The CoR will receive and vote on this proposal at their February 2011 meeting in Washington.

The APA proposes to afford all of its fraternal associations the same dues agreement which will amount to only a $25 reduction in dues.  For Canadian members of CPA, this means that APA dues will go from $143.50 to $262 ($287 less the $25 reduction).  There would be no reduction on any other fees such as the APAPO practice assessment for psychologists who are licensed and engaged in the provision of psychological services (http://www.apa.org/membership/member/index.aspx). CPA’s full membership dues are $250 (plus HST).

CPA’s concerns with the APA proposal: APA let CPA know about the proposal to replace the existing dues agreement in August of 2010 at which time we immediately communicated our concerns to the governance and senior officers of the APA.

Our primary concerns are the following:

  • We understand and respect the need for Canadian psychologists to join the municipal, provincial/territorial, national and international associations of psychology of their choice. We understand that membership in the APA is of value to many CPA members and we do not want the see them lose the benefit of the 50% APA membership fee reduction.
  • We understand from APA that a desire for equity (i.e. enact the same dues agreement with all fraternal associations) was the impetus for the proposal to replace the existing dues agreement. But equity issues need to be examined on a case by case basis. The relationship between CPA and APA is unique among psychological bodies. APA’s inaugural 31 members in 1892 included academics from both American and Canadian universities. The APA and CPA are the first generation offspring of what was essentially a North American association of psychology. Today, the relationship between CPA and APA benefits from two memoranda of understanding (one at the organizational level and one governing accreditation) as well as a publication partnership (APA publishes all three of our journals over which we retain copyright and editorial control). 
  • We also understand from APA that economic considerations motivated the proposed change to the dues agreement. We are aware that the proposed dues agreement has the potential to bring APA about $129,000 in additional membership fees, but only on the assumption that all current CPA members who are also APA members retain their membership in APA. It is our view that when faced with what will in effect be a $118.50 increase in their basic APA member dues, members will be lost. Feedback we have received to date suggests to us that although membership will suffer as the result of the change to the dues agreement, it will not be, or only be, CPA’s membership. This proposal will result in fewer not more members of APA from Canada and, unless more than half of CPA members opt to remain members in APA, it will result in a financial loss for APA as well.
  • The proposed dues agreement has the potential to inflict serious economic hardship on CPA. The approximately 1,100 CPA members who are also APA members make up 15% of the CPA membership. The proposed increase in APA dues may well force some number of them make a choice of membership for economic reasons. Although we would like to presume that Canadian psychologists will retain membership in their own national association, we must anticipate that some may not. APA is and will always be the larger and more resourced association. When it comes to membership value and benefit, CPA will always be challenged to compete with what APA can offer by virtue of its size alone. Even if CPA retained two thirds of these 1,100 as members, we would suffer a serious economic blow of tens of thousands of dollars. As a largely membership dues-driven association, this is not a loss we can quickly absorb.
  • The proposed dues agreement is likely to be economically damaging to CPA but not to any of APA’s other fraternal organizations. In view of the unique relationship and common history between CPA and APA, the existing dues agreement is more generous than that which APA has with other organizations. As a consequence, whereas the change to this agreement has the potential to damage CPA economically, other organizations are not likely to be impacted in the same manner. They may accept the proposed dues agreement as a mere exercise in equity and, in fact, experience an increase in their memberships by virtue of a new dues agreement with APA.
  • We are concerned about the manner in which the proposed dues agreement was imposed. In view of our common history and the long-standing special relationship between APA and CPA (e.g., sealed with two memoranda of understanding), and because the proposed change has the potential for a significant economic impact on CPA, it would have behooved APA to initiate discussion with us about the dues agreement prior to notifying the President about the plan to change it. The dues agreement is an agreement between two parties and, as such, we believe that any change to it warrants discussion between the two signatories to the agreement in advance of one party taking a decision to change it.

What CPA has done to address these concerns? In addition to bringing our concerns outlined above to the senior officers of APA, CPA:

  • Has shared our concerns with the Canadian psychologists who sit on the APA’s CoR to represent the psychologists in their respective jurisdictions who are members of APA (Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Alberta, Manitoba, and British Columbia).
  • Is sharing our concerns with the entire membership of the CoR by posting them to the CoR listerv. We plan to travel to Washington to attend the February 2011 meeting of the CoR where we will address:
    • the APA caucuses that meet prior to the meeting
    • the entirety of the CoR, when it is in session and when the proposal comes up on their February meeting agenda.

In addition to sharing our concerns as noted above, and asking the CoR not to support the proposal, if it appears that the proposal will be accepted by the CoR we are going to ask that its implementation be deferred from 2012 to a later year so that we can plan for any implications of the end of the dues agreement that many Canadian psychologists have enjoyed.

CPA is counting on your continued supportAdvocacy on behalf of Canadian psychology – be it for science or practice – is undertaken by CPA and by the provincial associations of psychology.  CPA cannot do this without your continued support. In addition to our flagship activities which include our 3 peer reviewed journals and quarterly newsletter, the annual convention, and our accreditation program (visit www.cpa.ca), below are some highlights of recent science- and practice-related activities and successes. 

First among these, and most relevant to the APA proposal, is that CPA is in the midst of negotiations with APA Publications to secure access to the entirety of APA’s databases for Canadian psychologists at a rate comparable to that extended to APA members without the requirement of APA membership.  If all goes well, we plan to promote and trial access to the APA databases in February/March 2011 for all Canadian psychologists – free for a month and then for a comparable rate as mentioned. This access will be a significant value-add to practitioners who work outside of universities or teaching hospitals and have no institutional access to these databases. It will also be a value-add to researchers who may work in non-university environments that are not corporate subscribers to the APA databases.

Other CPA highlighted activities include:

  • Through its Chief Executive Officer and Depute Chief Executive Officer, the CPA sits on and/or chairs a number of national committees on health and science. These include the Health Action Lobby, the Canadian Alliance of Mental Illness and Mental Health, the Mental Health Table, the Canadian Consortium of Research, the Canadian Coalition for Public Health in the 21st Century, and the National Emergency Psychosocial Advisory Consortium to name a select few. These national alliances of scientists and practitioners in psychology and collegial disciplines are extremely important and effective advocacy groups for Canada’s health and wellbeing. Our participation in them gets the science and practice of psychology on the map and menu when health care and research in Canada are being discussed and planned. 
  • Invitations and participation in briefs and positions delivered to House of Commons and Senate Committees and Departments of Public Health and Justice on a number of issues and topics of public concern that are directly related to psychology’s expertise such as the treatment of autism, same sex marriage, mental health in the workplace, and the role of psychological factors in health to name only a few.
  • In 2010, the CPA launched a Practice Directorate whose Council is made up of representatives from Canada’s provincial and territorial associations of psychology. The Directorate, whose activities are funded by CPA with contributions from the provincial and territorial associations of psychology, is an inter-jurisdictional alliance of psychology associations who come together on areas of common interest. In 2010, the Directorate engaged a Public Relations consultant to help develop some messaging for all levels of government around access to psychological service. Other Directorate activities include the sharing and hosting of information and initiatives related to practice across Canada, consultation and assistance afforded to jurisdictions on particular issues of practice concern, and advocacy training for psychology leaders.
  • In 2009/2010, CPA launched and resourced a Science Directorate. It has a full time Director, CPA's Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Dr. Lisa Votta-Bleeker) and is advised by CPA’s Scientific Affairs Committee. As detailed below, the Directorate has initiated a number of activities and engaged in some successful advocacy on behalf of science and the funding of psychological research in Canada.
  • In the fall of 2010, under CPA’s leadership, on behalf of the Mental Health Table (MHT), hosted a Forum on access to mental health services and supports for Canadians entitled Which Doors Lead to Where? How to Enhance Access to Mental Health Service: Barriers, Facilitators and Opportunities for Canadians’ Mental Health. This Forum, funded by Health Canada, welcomed national and international speakers on such topics as evidence-based care in mental health, consumers’ perspectives and demand-based supply, and how to put service together so that the right person gets the right service at the right time and in the right place. The proceedings from the Forum (to include an analysis and recommendations about how to provide better access to needed mental health care for Canadians) will be made available to Health Canada and through the CPA website in winter 2011.
  • Since June 2010, CPA has been in discussion with Treasury Board as concerns their disability management initiatives (articles in the popular press have indicated that 40% of disability claims to the federal public service are for mental health conditions) as well as psychological service coverage under extended health benefits plans. Plans are underway to develop an advocacy strategy with government that supports better coverage for psychological services while also providing assistance to stakeholder employers about identifying and managing mental health problems in the workplace.
  • CPA has articulated concerns regarding the need for improved processes to support the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) as it impacts Canada’s health professions – concerns shared by several of the country’s health care provider groups. These have been shared with Industry Canada, the Health Action Lobby, the CPA membership as well as Canada’s regulatory bodies of psychology. Click here for CPA’s response to the College of Psychology of Ontario’s request for feedback on its AIT-related proposed regulation changes http://www.cpa.ca/cpasite/UserFiles/Documents/Practice_Page/cpo_ait.pdf
  • From 2009 through 2011, CPA is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada to develop an electronic practice network of psychologist practitioners to enable us to collect data about the demographic and practice characteristics of Canada’s psychologists and about the demographic and clinical characteristics of the clients they treat. Reports to date can be found at http://www.cpa.ca/practitioners/surveillanceandsurveys/
  • On behalf of the Health Action Lobby, CPA with co-principal investigator and Past-Chair of CPA’s Section on Industrial Organizational Psychology, Dr. Peter Hausdorf, submitted a proposal to Health Canada to develop a sustainable means of assessing the work-related health of Canada’s Health Human Resource.
  • In 2011, CPA posts its report on prescriptive authority for psychologists in Canada http://www.cpa.ca/docs/File/Task_Forces/CPA_RxPTaskForceFinalReport_Dec2010.pdf
  • In 2011, CPA funds and launches two new task forces – Psychology in Public Practice and Evidence-Based Practice
  • In 2010, CPA launched its Recruit Research Participants Portal (R2P2) where members can recruit psychologist member participants for their research
  • In 2010, CPA launched its Research in Psychology Hub where psychologist researchers can register in this directory of psychological research in Canada
  • In 2010, CPA was successful in lobbying NSERC to revise its policy so that doctoral students in clinical psychology doing basic research can be eligible for an NSERC award.

CPA is a vital, energetic and “go to” association for government, funders, and other health researchers and disciplines in Canada. For an association of our size, we have a tremendous and influential reach. The depth and breadth of CPA’s reach, and indeed the impact of Canadian psychology, depends on you – CPA’s members. The association is its members and we are hoping we can count on your continued support.

For more information on the APA proposal or any other of CPA’s activities, please contact:

Karen R. Cohen, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer, CPA
executiveoffice@cpa.ca
613-237-2144, ext. 344