An Advocacy Guide for Psychologists




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CPA Advocacy on Behalf of Psychology

The Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) has as its mandate «Advancing Psychology for All». In order to fulfill this mandate, CPA undertakes a wide range of activities which include the dissemination of psychological knowledge, lobbying in support of research, teaching and practice, accreditation, the annual convention and ongoing interaction with other psychological and nonpsychological organizations.

CPA advocates on behalf of psychological science and practice at the federal level because programmes developed by the Government of Canada affect every CPA member and every Canadian in every province and territory.

For example, the federal government plays a pivotal role in determining the type, direction and level of funding for psychological research in Canada. Programmes such as the Canadian Health and Social Transfer, the granting councils, the National Centres of Excellence and the research foundations (e.g., Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation) are essential components of the Canadian scientific enterprise.

Although health care is a provincial responsibility, the contribution of the federal government is a significant factor. The Canada Health Act and the federal role in health influences how health care services will be delivered, the relative balance between private and public funding, the range of services psychologists can offer and service delivery for specific groups such as refugees, First Nations, the military, the criminal justice system and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

CPA is increasingly consulted by government to offer advice in sensitive policy areas that affect the ways in which psychologists do their work. For example, CPA has input into such diverse areas as tax policy (i.e., Registered Retirement Savings Plan legislation and psychologists as assessors of disability for the Disability Tax Credit), criminal justice matters (assessment and treatment), animal research, Department of Health research, health policy, and government information systems (Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information), etc.

CPA meets regularly with members of parliament and their staff, Cabinet Ministers and government officials. Frequent visits to special and standing committees of the House of Commons provide opportunities to represent psychology.

CPA has a long history of being in the centre of the lobbying activity. To enhance effectiveness, CPA works to establish and maintain advocacy relationships and networks. On practice issues, the Health Action Lobby has proven to be a most effective coalition focused on the federal role and federal funding of health and health care. For science, the Canadian Consortium for Research has been responsible for positively influencing several important federal policy initiatives. CPA is a member of the steering committees of each of these groups. CPA is also the largest member association of the Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada. The Association is also a founding member of the Network for the Advancement Health Services Research.

The federal government has a history of supporting health, universities, and science and technology but the behavioural and social sciences have to struggle for an appropriate share of the resources. The competition for federal funds is fierce and the CPA science and practice advocacy programme makes the ongoing case for psychology to government (e.g., Correctional Service Canada, Health Canada, Human Resources Development Canada, Industry Canada, National Health Research and Development Programme, Medical Research Council, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council).

On behalf of science and practice, CPA:

  • Actively advocates on behalf of the science and practice of psychology for increased federal support of psychological research and health services, and develops opportunities to present testimony before House of Commons and Senate Standing and Legislative Committees.
  • Sponsors visits and meetings with key government decision makers to give them a clearer idea of what psychological research and practice are, how they are conducted, and why they are important. Lobbying activities to familiarize Parliament Hill with psychology have included a focus on learning and literacy, safe communities, tobacco, abuse of children and rehabilitation.
  • Sponsors brief tutorials for government staff on policy-relevant psychological research and practice issues. Parliament Hill briefings have highlighted research developments and practice in the areas of health and behaviour, aging, substance abuse, cognition and brain function.
  • Increases the number of psychologists involved in federal science and programme policy development by making CPA members available to Parliament Hill to testify before parliamentary committees and to meet with legislators.
  • Develops public policy agendas by working closely with government research and programme agencies.
  • Nominates eminent psychologists for appointments to research councils and national science and programme advisory committees.
  • Brings top leaders of federal agencies and Parliament together with CPA science and practice leaders to strengthen our partnerships and tackle critical issues of concern to psychologists and government.

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