Welcome to the 2014-2015 OAPA Membership Year

decaire-profileI would like to welcome each of you to the 2014-2015 membership year. The OAPA membership grows each year and we expect this trend to only continue over the years ahead. We also now represent an ever-increasing presence within the College of Psychologists of Ontario and have members who work in all sectors of psychology. It is quite clear that OAPA members are making a real difference in the lives of thousands of Ontarians. As we grow, the impact we can have as an association also grows. Your OAPA Board continues to work hard to make sure we are at the right tables at the right time to shape the future of psychological practice in the province.

Working with government and related stakeholders. Much of the last year has been spent liaising with the different provincial ministries affecting our members. Not only has this been an opportunity to help these parties better recognize the role OAPA members play in the healthcare, education, and social service sectors, but it allowed us to share our concerns regarding the College’s proposed closure of future Master’s level registration. We were pleased to have received the same message in every meeting, that there is no interest in supporting closure. We also received no opposition to the proposal of a singular title of Psychologist for all members of the College. Stakeholders relayed similar thoughts and conveyed an intention to oppose the College’s proposal at consultation.

We have also increased our interactions with the College and our peers at the Ontario Psychological Association over the last year. This has been a positive experience for the association and has allowed for a clearer line of communication between all parties. While we may not always agree with the proposals of the College Council, it is quite clear that our voices are being heard and responded to at a greater degree than they were in the past.

At the time of writing, the College has not rescinded their closure proposal. At the same time, the most recent vote on the subject showed signs that opinions are wavering. The proposed regulation has not yet been forwarded for a stakeholder consultation, nor has it been brought to government. Also, the College has been informed of our interactions with government and recognizes that the current proposal is quite likely to fail, as it did the last time closure was proposed.

While our hope is that the plan will be amended to provide title without closure, we anticipate that a stakeholder consultation is still forthcoming. That consultation will require a strong response from both OAPA and the membership. Of course, we will connect with each of you when the time comes for that type of response.

Working to benefit our members. We have also had a busy year exploring and working on new ways to add value to the OAPA membership. Our Treasurer, Elaine Moroney, worked closely with our liability insurer, McFarlan Rowlands, to significantly decrease our annual rates while not lowering the available benefits to our membership. We were able to achieve this goal and also maintained the essential professional relationships (e.g., Bell Temple Legal Services) that our colleagues in other associations lost with their 2014-2015 benefit packages.

Your Board has also been working for nearly a year on a major website revision that is currently in the process of being updated and released a component at a time. The full website will include a private members section, an easy to access list of resources, and opinion pieces for our membership and the public. Of particular interest to many will be our transition from a traditional email listserve to a more adaptive forum system. This will allow people to interact directly on the site or to receive content on topics of their interest still arrive in their inbox. Ultimately, we hope to be building a web resource that will allow both the OAPA Board and the membership to enrich each others’ experience.

We also have many other benefits in the works that are a little too early to announce, but I am excited about what the next year is going to bring for each of us. One thing I can announce is that starting this September, I will be hosting quarterly online meetings for the membership to use as a forum to discuss their thoughts, concerns, and ideas with the Board. Additional meetings will also be made available during periods in which quick communication to the membership is necessary (e.g., when an important stakeholder consultation is announced). Our first prescheduled meeting will occur on the evening of September 22nd.

Save the date! Make sure you mark yourself as not available at work and make plans to attend the OAPA Conference and Annual General Meeting on Friday November 21st. We will be returning to the beautiful Old Mill Toronto venue that hosted our AGM last year. I anticipate that this will be our largest attendance to date, as we have some exciting topics to announce shortly. While I cannot reveal the speakers yet, this will be an assessment-focused conference and will be of professional interest to the majority of our membership.

The year ahead. As I look forward, I anticipate another busy but rewarding year. Our participation with government continues to expand and we hope to continue to inform key stakeholders about the issues our members and the clients they serve face on a day to day basis. I also hope to continue to build partnerships that will bring new benefits to our membership.

As always, I would also like to openly invite members to contact me directly with any questions, concerns, or ideas they may have in the year ahead (michael.decaire@gmail.com). I hope to see many of you at the November Conference/AGM, during our new online membership meetings, and in our soon to be launched web-forums.

With regards,

Michael Decaire, M.A., C.Psych.Assoc.

OAPA, President