OAPA Executive Summary Update August 2018

OAPA Executive Summary Update  by Paula Conforti, OAPA Vice-President
August 2018

CPO’s June 22nd, 2018 Council Meeting:
We were pleased to see a growing presence of OAPA’s Members at the Council Meetings. We hope by summarizing the key points with regards to our ongoing pertinent concerns that we will prompt an even larger group presence at the September meeting. The attitude around the table at the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) Council’s table on June 22nd was a significant change to any of the meetings at which the Board has been present over the last two years. There are a number of factors bringing about this change; the presence of a ministry observer, more vocal/opinionated public members, and the OAPA’s continued and growing presence are just a few. It should be emphasized that for the first time in at least a year the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) sent a representative to sit and observe the meeting: Thomas Custers, Manager of the Regulatory Oversight and Performance Unit. (Going forward Senior Policy Analyst Douglas Ross will be the CPO’s observer from the MOHLTC).

In addition, the OAPA Board was privy to the fact and understood that Jan Robinson (Registrar of the College of Veterinarians, and a prominent speaker in professional regulation) came to speak to Council and ran a training day with them on June 21st where there was a focus on public protection. The following day at the June meeting described above, CPO Council was asked to view the “Shaping the Future” (see explanatory note at end) issues through that lens of public protection. To our surprise and delight, there appeared to far greater support for both granting the Psychologist title to MA’s, and for removing MA closure from consideration. The Council did not take a vote at this meeting on June 22nd. However, based on the conversation around the table that day, your OAPA Board is cautiously hopeful that the majority of council may soon vote to sever the two issues and move forward to grant title to MA’s.

What brought about this seemingly new focus on public protection? The Board believes that the CPO has received information similar to what we have been told at coalition meetings; Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) Denise Cole does not believe the current model of self-regulation works, the regulatory colleges are not protecting the public. ADM Cole has spent considerable resources looking into other methods of regulation, and has been working closely with regulators and the regulatory body in the UK and Australia and evaluating their model. ADM Cole has gathered significant support for these changes within the bureaucracy and it is the general consensus that the CPO understands that their system is under fire.

Despite believing that if there had been a vote on the 22nd it might have gone in favour of what OAPA has been working towards for years, we still have to continue to press the CPO for movement. It is Dr. Rick Morris’ belief that the silence from the Ministry on the subject of closure is not an indicator that they’re rejecting the 2013 motion from the College. However, Dr. Morris has stated that “the ministry has some concerns that would need to be addressed.”

The OAPA Board and our Government Relations Consultant have spent a considerable amount of time speaking with and understanding the ministry’s concerns and have highlighted them in our own briefing note used when we meet with government. Over the past four years we have built a strong working relationship with the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC)’s office as well as with the ADM Denise Cole and her staff including Allison Henry. While the Minister of Health and their staff have changed, ADM Cole and her staff are still in place and will be briefing the new Minister. Minister Christine Elliot is reputed to be a supporter of mental health services in the province. We will be meeting with her staff and briefing them on our issue as promptly as possible. In fact, we have already made significant strides to attend a meeting with Premier Doug Ford.

Beyond meeting with the MOHLTC, we plan to also meet with and brief the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The fall is expected to be particularly busy for us as we meet with and start working with the new staff in the various minister’s offices. We are in the process of updating our briefing document to be tailored to align with the values and goals of our new government.

Vote on OAPA membership:
In keeping with our desire to create a unified and strong voice for Psychology we will be sending out a brief survey to gather some feedback from our Members to gauge support for changing our by-laws to potentially include our MA folks who have gone on to obtain PhD’s, in addition to PhD colleagues who are respectful of our work. This will be a hot topic for discussion and will take up the bulk of our November AGM which will be held again at the Weston Golf and Country Club. It is our hope that our Webinar service will be running more smoothly so that our members who are unable to attend in person have an avenue to participate. Please look for out this survey as it should be emailed to you shortly.

The CPO has published a notice on their website as part of the transparency report that going forward all invoices must include both the practitioner providing the service and the practitioner supervising the service. This results in giving the insurers an easy method to deny the claims. The CPO believes that by requiring this it is giving the public another level of transparency, but we are taking the stance that transparency starts in the treatment room. If patients understand who they are seeing, that their treating practitioner is being supervised and by whom, there should be no need for multiple names on the insurance invoice. We would be interested in your opinion.

Should insurance companies start denying claims of supervised practitioners, it will put the established and already overburdened training model we have in place at risk. If practices cannot bill insurers for treatments provided by those who are under supervision there is little chance that private practices will continue to employ them, therefore closing supervised spots of which there is already a shortage. We have been collaboratively meeting with OPA’s president, Dr. Sylvan Roy to discuss if their members are also concerned and if we can combine our efforts to maximize the effect. In addition, as of December 31th, 2019, the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) indicates that psychologists or psychological associates will no longer be able to provide supervision to persons who are not active in the fulfillment of the requirement to become a member of CPO. Currently the OPA has an active survey out to their membership to gather some feedback to better gauge how associations should respond and advocate on this issue.

School Psychology:
Members in school boards will be versed in a new document that will be disseminated by the Chiefs of Ontario School Boards entitled, “Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Assessment of Children, Adolescents, and Adults with Learning Disabilities” It is the product of a group of Ontario Psychologists and represents consensus among the members with respect to both the diagnostic criteria and assessment process. Our past OAPA President Caroline Koekkoek represented our group and we would like to thank her for her continued efforts, insight, knowledge and dedication to both OAPA and School Psychology.

Automotive Accidents and Traumatic Brain Injury:
Since being announced in late 2017 by the Ministry of Finance we have heard little about the government’s plan to open assessment centers to “cut down the risk of insurance fraud” under guise of lowering automotive insurance premiums in province. We have requested a meeting with the Jenna Hay the policy advisor responsible in the Minister of Finance. We will also address this with Dr. Roy.

For more information on our advocacy team and the strategy visit http://www.LeonardDomino.com

Next Conference:
OAPA will be celebrating our 20th Anniversary this year!! As such, we are hoping to partner with an agency to bring Members continued high quality professional development on current topics of interest. This time round, we will likely be holding the AGM separate from our bi-annual Conference. We are looking to hold the AGM in November as usual, and the conference sometime in March of 2019. Please keep this date in mind when planning your professional development. Speakers for March are starting to be secured and include leaders in their field on topics related to ADHD, ASD and OCD (differential diagnosis) and LD and Mental Health Literacy Models for Suicide and effects of contagion. Stay tuned!

At this time we would like to wish all of you a relaxing summer.

Your OAPA Board

* Background note: Closure and Title. The College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO)’s Council has continued to put forward a proposal to the government based around the results of their “Shaping the Future” Committee’s decision to recommend closure of a MA level registration for entry to practice. The CPO’s Council also included in that proposal the title of “Psychologist”, proposing to grant any current registrants of the CPO the title of Psychologist. By accepting only PhD qualified applicants going forward this is effectively simply a grandfathering clause and the title of Psychologist would, going forward, be given to PhDs only. Recently, in the interest of transparency, we asked Dr. Rick Morris to provide the OAPA Board with the “data” referred to in this Brief that was sent to ADM Cole to update and share with our Membership. Please assess this information via the links provided below. The Board would like to thank Dr. Morris for his prompt reply to this request.

Request for Report

Shaping the Future Task Force Report

Currently tied to closure in the Shaping the Future plan, the OAPA Board understands that title is of singular greatest importance to many of our members. The OAPA Board continues to advocate for MA’s with regards to the two issues separately. It is our understanding that the ministry had communicated to the CPO Council that closure is not an option. Our hope is we can convince the College and the Council that continuing to regulate MA’s with the title Psychologist is a “win” for everyone. Should CPO continue to move forward with the decision that was made in March of 2013, the OAPA will reach out to the Membership via a brief survey to ascertain your current opinion. The March 2013 decision of the CPO Council was the one which tied title and closure together. Specifically, the decision read:

“2) Discontinue master’s level registration, grandparent Psychological Associates as Psychologists and develop a mechanism for evaluating internationally trained applicants
a. Cease to accept master’s level applications as of a set date
b. Register all Psychological Associates as Psychologists on a fixed date, or within a fixed time period.
c. Develop a mechanism for evaluating internationally trained applicants’ competencies for substantial similarity to a CPA accredited program and remediation as needed, regardless of whether they have obtained a master’s degree or a doctoral degree.”

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