APA’s Proposal to change its dues agreement with fraternal association as it affects the longstanding dues agreement between the APA and the Canadian Psychological Association (APA)

(January 21, 2011): As members of the APA Council of Representatives, you are aware of a proposal on your February 2011 meeting agenda, to harmonize APA’s dues agreements with its fraternal associations.

The Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) is one of APA’s fraternal associations and the CPA and the APA have had a dues agreement in place for decades. This agreement afforded a psychologist resident in Canada, who was a member of the CPA, to join the APA at 50% of the APA member rate. Similarly, a psychologist resident in the U.S., who was a member of the APA, could join the CPA at 50% of the CPA member rate.

Under the proposed/new agreement about which the CoR will make a decision at its February meeting, a psychologist resident in Canada, who is a member of the CPA, will no longer receive a 50% reduction in his or her APA dues but instead will be eligible for a $25 reduction.

CPA is extremely concerned about the proposal to change the existing dues agreement primarily because of its potential impact on the membership base of our association. There are just over 1,100 psychologists in Canada who are members of both CPA and APA. Whereas 1,100 members constitute less than 1% of APA’s membership, they represent 15% of ours. If a $25 reduction replaces the 50% reduction in the basic APA member rate, CPA members will see their APA membership dues increase by $118.50 – a not insignificant amount. It is CPA’s view that a $118.50 increase in dues will result in a loss of membership for one of our associations. Because these 1,100 members represent 15% of our membership but less than 1% of yours, CPA is likely to feel more severely the full consequences of such a significant change in the dues agreement.

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 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 to 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).
  • We are sharing our concerns with the entire membership of the CoR through its listserv and by lobbying the APA caucuses that meet prior to the February 2011 meeting of the CoR. We have requested of Drs. Anderson and Vasquez an opportunity to speak to the proposal when it comes up on the Council floor at the February meeting.

CPA’s position on the proposal. In the interests of its members and of scientific and professional collaboration, we are asking you not to support the APA proposal which will change the dues agreement that APA has with the CPA.

If the CoR does not see fit to vote down this proposal, we ask at the very least that its implementation be deferred from 2012 to a later year so that we can plan for any implications of the change to the dues agreement that a 1,100 Canadian psychologists have enjoyed.

Peter Graf, Ph.D.
President, CPA

Karen R. Cohen, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer, CPA

Canadian Psychological Association
executiveoffice@cpa.ca
613-237-2144 (or toll-free: 1-888-472-0657) ext. 344
613-799-0532 (mobile)