As part of the CPA’s strategic plan is to advocate for the science, practice and education of psychology, the association is actively involved in a number of advocacy and government relations’ activities to ensure that the voice of psychology is making an important contribution to the public policy discussion/decision-making process when it comes to the (mental) health and wellbeing of Canadians as well as the science, practice and education in psychology.

To support our advocacy activities, the CPA is a registered lobbyist organization that submits monthly reports on its lobbying activities to the federal government.

Advocacy in Action

Generally speaking, the CPA’s advocacy activities take a variety of forms and include the following:

  • Meeting with Members of Parliament and Senators and their staff
  • Meeting with senior government officials
  • Presenting to House of Commons and Senate Standing Committees
  • Liaising with senior representatives from federally-funded health agencies
  • Partnering with mental health and research-focussed strategic partnerships
  • Developing and presenting letters, Briefs, and position/policy statements
  • Participating in the pre-budget consultation process (submit Brief, present to Finance Committee)
  • Participating in expert roundtables and consultations (e.g., Medical Assistance in Dying [MAiD])
  • Providing the perspective of psychology on Committee work and Bills under review (e.g., Conversion Therapy)
  • Compiling resources of interest for the mental health/research community
  • Launching strategic communications and media campaigns
  • Attending conferences/workshops and events to present perspective of psychology

Specific CPA advocacy activities, grouped by issue area, are listed below.

1. Impact of COVID-19

The CPA has been actively engaged with the federal government, on its own and in strategic partnership with other associations and alliances, as it responds to the COVID-19 global pandemic to ensure that the needs of psychology practitioners, researchers and students, as well psychologists’ patients are addressed.

The CPA also developed a series of COVID-19 fact sheets and public resources, as well as member messages which help inform the public on the psychological aspects of living in a pandemic as well as support the pandemic-related needs of CPA members, students and affiliates.  In addition, CPA has supported a pro bono psychological service offering to health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic across the country as well as developed and delivered webinars to the staff of other not-for-profit health and science organizations to help them in coping with the psychosocial impacts of the pandemic.

Strong Majority of Canadians Want Improved Access to Psychologists (January 2021)

The CPA, partnering with the Council of Professional Associations of Psychologists (CPAP), commissioned Nanos Research to survey more than 3,000 Canadians to better understand how they perceive the role of psychology, the barriers and solutions to accessing care, and the quality of care they receive. See news release and survey findings.

COVID-19 Worsening Canadians’ Access to Psychologists (December 2020)

The CPA, partnering with the Council of Professional Associations of Psychologists (CPAP), commissioned Nanos Research to survey more than 3,000 Canadians to better understand how they are managing their mental health and accessing care from psychologists in a COVID-19 world. See news release and survey findings.

Report by the Organizations for Health Action (HEAL) focus on Beyond COVID-19 (November 2020)

The Organizations for Health Action (HEAL), of which CPA is a founding member, released policy paper Beyond Covid-19: HEAL’s Recommendations for a Healthier Nation which offers recommendations to the federal government in the areas of pandemic readiness, seniors’ health and mental health.  Dr. Karen Cohen (CPA CEO) and Glenn Brimacombe (CPA Director, Policy and Public Affairs) actively participated in the writing of this report.

At the same time, HEAL released its COVID-19 Survey Summary, which identified three key areas that members are concerned with on a daily basis: (1) access to proper resources including space and information; (2) exposure to the virus and access to personal protective equipment (PPE); and (3) the mental health of providers.

Report by the Royal Society of Canada on COVID-19, Mental Health and the Federal Role (October 2020)

The report Easing the Disruption of COVID-19: Supporting the Mental Health of the People of Canada by a working group of the Royal Society of Canada was released in October 2020 and contains 21 recommendations, largely focused on the federal role in supporting/investing in mental health.  Several of CAMIMH’s recommendations from its Mental Health Action Plan were incorporated into the document.  Mr. Glenn Brimacombe (CPA Director, Policy and Public Affairs), in addition to some members of the CPA, served on the working group.

Letter to PM Regarding Future Pandemic Closure and Impact on Health Workforce (September 2020)

The Extended Healthcare Professionals Coalition (EHPC) sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau requesting that regulated health professionals be deemed an essential service to provide needed care to Canadians should future shutdowns be required.

Meeting with Minister of Health (May 2020)

As part of the Organizations for Health Action (HEAL), the CPA had an opportunity to meet with the Federal Minister of Health, The Honourable Patty Hajdu to discuss the role of the government in the context of COVID-19. The Minister indicated that the government is discussing what additional investments need to be made to support the mental health of Canadians.

CPA Requests to Appear Before House of Commons Standing Committee on Health (May 2020)

CPA sent a letter to the House of Commons Standing Committee to offer our expertise in assisting in identifying sustainable solutions that keep Canadians mentally as well as physically healthy.

CPA Input on Federal COVID-19 Emergency Response Programs (April 2020)

The CPA sent a letter to the Federal Minister of Finance, The Honourable Bill Morneau, outlining its serious concerns that members in private practice were not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program. The CPA was pleased to see changes in the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) program which expands the payroll threshold from $50,000 to $200,000 to be eligible for a maximum loan of $40,000.

Working with Insurers (April 2020)

Given the impact of COVID-19, the CPA and the provincial-territorial psychological associations sent a letter to 6 of the largest insurers in Canada (i.e., Aviva, Canada Life, Greenshields, Manulife, Medavie/Blue Cross and Sun Life) to remove barriers to access psychological care across sponsored plans and evolve their coverage.

2. Federal Government-Mental Health (Funding, Policy, Legislation, Research)

As a national health association, the CPA is actively engaging the federal government on a range of public policy issues as they pertain to mental health.

Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) Calls for Mental Health and Substance Use Parity Act (June 2021)

The Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) released the discussion paper entitled From Out of the Shadows and Into the Light…Achieving Parity in Access to Care Among Mental Health, Substance Use and Physical Health.  The document outlines the case for the federal government to introduce a new piece of legislation – a Mental Health and Substance Use Health Care For All Parity Act – and identifies some the elements that could be contained therein to improve access to mental health and substance use health services and supports in Canada.  By releasing the report, CAMIMH hopes that it will engender a growing public policy discussion about the role of the federal government, working in close partnership with the provinces and territories, to ensure that Canadians get the care they need, when they need it.

News Release


CPA, CAMIMH and CCR Comment on 2021 Federal Budget (April 2021)

On April 19th, the federal government presented its first budget in more than 24 months. The CPA issued a news release emphasizing that the pandemic recovery will depend on our mental health investments.

The Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) also publicly commented on the budget noting that it was a missed opportunity to invest in the mental health of Canadians.  The Canadian Consortium on Research (CCR) also expressed concerns about the lack of investment in basic research.

MAiD Legislation and Independent Expert Review (March 2021)

With the passage of Bill C-7 – An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in Dying [MAiD]), the federal government must complete an independent review by experts to consider the safeguards and protocols for requests for MAiD for persons who have a mental illness within the next 12 months.  The CPA has written the Minister of Justice and Health requesting that a psychologist, with MAiD expertise be a member of this review. . In 2020, a CPA Task Force released a report on MAID and Practice Guidelines for Psychologists Involved in End-of-Life Decisions.

Standing Committee Releases 2021 Pre-Budget Recommendations (February 2021)

As part of the federal government’s pre-budget consultation process of which CPA contributed to, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance released its report. Importantly, two of its top five recommendations focused on investing in a long-term mental health COVID-19 recovery plan for all Canadians, and targeted investments that will improve access to primary care, mental health supports and virtual care. It also included a recommendation to provide a one-time 25% increase in funding to the Tri-Councils for research restart and recovery. Hopefully all three will be reflected in the 2021 federal budget.

Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Legault (February 2021)

Given that Prime Minister Trudeau recently signalled the federal government’s willingness to discuss increasing its share of health funding to the provinces and territories, the CPA wrote to the Prime Minister and Premier urging them to increase their investments in mental health services and treatments.

CAMIMIH Letter to Prime Minister and Premiers

CPA Releases Position Paper on Climate Change and Psychological Science (January 2021)

The CPA recently released a position paper Addressing Climate Change in Canada: The Importance of Psychological Science .  The paper has been shared with the Minister of the Environment and Minister of Health.

CPP Disability Advisory Committee (Ongoing)

Dr. Karen Cohen (CPA CEO) co-Chairs the Disability Advisory Committee (DAC), having been appointed by Canada’s Minister of Revenue at the end of 2017 through 2019, and renewed through 2021.  Its mandate is to advise the Minister of National Revenue and the Commissioner of the CRA on the administration and interpretation of policy and programs related to disability tax measures.  In the fall of 2020, the DAC has undertaken a series of focus groups with health providers on the committee’s 2019 recommendations on changes to disability tax procedures and legislation. It is also in the process of finalizing its 2020 report. The 2021 federal government budget set aside $376 million over 5 years to update the list of mental functions that is used for the assessment of the Disability Tax Credit.

Speech From the Throne (September 2020)

In advance of the federal government’s Speech from the Throne, the CPA sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emphasizing the importance of investing in the mental health of Canadians as a high strategic priority.

2021 Pre-Budget Consultation Process (August 2020)

The CPA submitted its own Brief which included six recommendations to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance as part of the 2021 pre-budget consultation process.  In addition, as a member of several strategic partnerships, the CPA played a key role in the writing of other Briefs that were submitted by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Health and Mental Illness (CAMIMH), the Canadian Consortium of Research (CCR), Organizations for Health Action (HEAL), and the Extended Healthcare Professionals Coalition (EHPC).  Convergence of messaging across national organizations signals to the federal government there is consensus about where and how they should invest in the science and practice of psychology that supports the mental health of Canadians.

Release of Mental Health Action Plan (July 2020)

In August 2020, the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) released its Mental Health Action Plan (Better Access and System Performance for Mental Health Services in Canada) , which included six recommendations for the federal government to implement to improve timely access to mental health services and supports in Canada.  This is an important example where the national mental health community is speaking with one voice.

Review of FPT Funding Agreements for Mental Health and Addiction Services (March 2020)

The CPA undertook a detailed review of the series of Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) bi-lateral agreements (i.e., the $11 billion over 10 years for home and community care, and mental health and addiction services) that were signed in 2017. It also identifies the key priorities to be addressed by each province and territory.

Review of Ministerial Mandate Letters (February 2020)

The CPA reviewed the 2019 Mandate Letters that were issued by the Prime Minister to ministers of the crown that are relevant to the priorities of the association.

Fitness to Stand Trial and Criminal Responsibility Assessments (Ongoing)

The Section on Criminal Justice has met to discuss how to re-engage the federal government and others to amend Section 672.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada to explicitly designate psychologists to be able to perform assessments of fitness to stand trial and criminal responsibility.  In 2017, the CPA released the following position paper Fitness to Stand Trial and Criminal Responsibility Assessments in Canada: Improving Access to Qualified Mental Health Professionals.

Psychotherapy Policy Implementation Network (PPIN) (Ongoing)

Dr. Karen Cohen (CPA CEO) serves as co-Chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s (MHCC) Psychotherapy Policy Implementation Network (PPIN).  Its goal is to develop a psychotherapy access action plan focused on the public health care system.  She sits on two of their working groups – one on COVID-19 and the other on funding models.  Glenn Brimacombe (CPA Director of Policy and Public Affairs, CPA), is a member of the PPIN working group examining structures and funding models that would enable the federal government to fund and/or deliver better access to psychotherapy services.

Mental Health Commission of Canada Advisory Committee on E-Mental Health (Ongoing)

Dr. Karen Cohen (CPA CEO) represents the profession on the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s (MHCC) advisory committee on e-mental health whose work is ongoing, most recently reviewing outcomes of Wellness Together Canada (Health Canada’s stepped care mental health response to the pandemic) and the digital mental health services delivered to youth by Kids Help Phone.

CPA Letters of Support (Ongoing)

The CPA continues to provider letters of support to members in support of tri-council funding (i.e., CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC) and in support of award nominations.  In some cases of tri-council funding applications, the CPA was added to the grant applications as a Knowledge User/Collaborator/Mobilizer.

3. Psychology and Mental Health System Innovation

The CPA, on its own, and with other organizations is working collaboratively to highlight the on-the-ground innovations that psychology is making to the organization, management, funding and delivery of mental health services. Below is a summary of recent activities:

Strong Majority of Canadians Want Improved Access to Psychologists (January 2021)

The CPA, partnering with the Council of Professional Associations of Psychologists (CPAP), commissioned Nanos Research to survey more than 3,000 Canadians to better understand how they perceive the role of psychology, the barriers and solutions to accessing care, and the quality of care they receive. See news release and survey findings.

COVID-19 Worsening Canadians’ Access to Psychologists (December 2020)

The CPA, partnering with the Council of Professional Associations of Psychologists (CPAP), commissioned Nanos Research to survey more than 3,000 Canadians to better understand how they are managing their mental health and accessing care from psychologists in a COVID-19 world. See news release and survey findings.

Mental Health Innovations in Primary Care (November 2020)

The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), in collaboration with the CPA and the Canadian Psychiatric Association released the report Innovations in Primary Care – Integrating Mental Health Services in Primary Care which features two case studies focused on psychology and primary care (i.e., Dr. Kim Corace and Dr. Robert Shepherd).

4. Psychology and Employer-Based Health Benefits

The CPA engages on a regular basis with insurers to discuss the administration and/or availability of employer-sponsored mental health benefits to their employees.

Sun Life Group Benefits Coverage for Psychological Services (March 2021)

Sun Life recently released the document Shaping group benefits: Employer insights that are helping guide the plans of the future, which is intended to help employers shape their (health) benefits for employees.  Importantly, following discussions initiated by CPA, Sun Life included the CPA’s recommendation to increase coverage for psychological services to $3,500-$4,000.  Many employers currently cap their coverage in the $500-$1,000 range. This step is an important recognition by one of Canada’s largest insurers of the value to employers in providing meaningful amounts of coverage for psychological services.

CPA Featured in Benefits Canada Magazine (January/February 2021)

Dr. Karen Cohen (CPA CEO) provided a perspective on whether “employees are being prescribed too much medication for mental-health issues?

Employer and Employee Decision-Making in Providing/Accessing Psychological Services (Ongoing)

The CPA, in partnership with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Conference Board of Canada have developed a survey of employees and employers; in the former to better understand the availability of psychological services, and in the latter, to better understand the strategic issues that are at play when it comes to employer decisions regarding coverage.

5. Working with Provincial-Territorial Psychological Associations

Usually at the request of the provincial-territorial psychologists associations, the CPA is pleased work collaboratively to address issues of mutual interest/concern to the profession.

Premiers Focus on Promising Practices in Mental Health/Substance Use (March 2021)

In January, the Premiers launched Promising Practices which focuses on innovations in one of the provinces or territories in addressing mental health and substance use with an emphasis on rural, remote or northern communities.  CPA member Dr. Heather Hadjistavropoulos was featured in March.  The CPA congratulated Premier Silver (Yukon) for leading this important initiative.

CPA Statement on New Brunswick’s Bill 35 (March 2021)

CPA submitted a letter to the New Brunswick government detailing our position on psychological test use and opposing the sections of the Bill [] which proposes that qualified teachers be able to administer level C tests.

“The Canadian Psychological Association’s guidance paper on psychological test safety describes the training necessary to use psychological tests as part of an assessment of an individual’s cognitive, emotional and behavioural functioning. It is the CPA’s position that psychologists are uniquely trained to undertake psychological assessments, which include, but are not limited to the administration of a single test. The CPA opposes any diagnostic, treatment or remedial decisions made on the basis of the results of a single psychological test alone.”

Joint letter from by the Psychologists Association of Alberta (PAA) and CPA (May 2020)

The CPA and the Psychologists Association of Alberta (PAA) co-signed a letter that was sent to the Provincial Minister of Education outlining our mutual concerns about the Calgary Board of Education’s decision to lay-off psychologists.

Access to Title in Psychology (March 2020)

The CPA convened a Task Force to review the use of title (i.e. psychologist) within the profession of psychology.  In March 2020, the CPA released the report CPA Task Force on Title: Model Language Suggestions which includes recommendations for: consistency in the legislated exemptions across the provinces and territories; and collaboration with its provincial and territorial psychology association partners to advocate for the adoption of this exemption model across the country.

Joint Letter from CPA, Ontario Psychologists Association and CAPDA (March 2019)

The CPA and the Ontario Psychological Association (OPA) and the Canadian Academy of Psychologists in Disability Assessment (CAPDA) wrote a letter to express their profound concerns over the September 2018 motion approved by the Council of the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) to continue registration of psychology practitioners at the master’s level and, further, to grant then the title “Psychologist”. This 2018 motion overturns a 2013 decision of the Council to stop registering master’s practitioners of psychology.

6. Developing Members’ Advocacy Skills

Very Involved Psychologist/Researcher (VIPR) (Ongoing)

The CPA, in launching its new Very Involved Psychologist (VIP)/Psychology Researcher (VIPR) in 2019 has attracted close to 20 members.  In addition to meeting with members both bilaterally and as a group, staff are in the process of revising CPA’s Advocacy Guide and developing a more detailed program of work.  The updated guide is designed to encourage psychologists toward greater political participation and provides basic tools and strategies for bringing forward (policy) issues to governments.  Members who are interested in participating in this program should contact Glenn Brimacombe.

7. Public Speaking

In addition to speaking with the media, representatives of CPA are frequently invited to speak at Conferences and other public events to provide the perspective of psychology in the context of an evolving public health system, and/or employer health benefits plans. Recently, CPA spoke at the following meetings:

COVID-19 and the Mental Health & Substance Use Workforce (November 2020)

Funded through the Canadian Health Workforce Network (CHWN) and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) Glenn Brimacombe (CPA Director, Policy and Public Affairs, and a member of the Advisory Committee) was on a panel discussing the strengths, challenges and opportunities of the project.

Northwind Institute Invitational For a (November 2020)

Dr. Karen Cohen (CPA CEO) was part of an expert panel discussing mental health in the workplace and its associated challenges, strategies and solutions.

Benefits Canada Conference (November 2020)

Glenn Brimacombe (CPA Director, Policy and Public Affairs) presented jointly with Dr. Sam Mikail (Director, Mental Health Solutions, Sub Life) on the issue of Removing Barriers: Creating a Group Benefits Plan that Promotes Timely Access to Mental Health Care.