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 ADVOCACY CORNER 




Brought to you by Advocacy Committee Co-Chairs: Hammam Farah, Natasha Tuletta-Bowman, Maria Wallis

Email us with suggestions/items you want covered here to advocacy@psychotherapyontario.org

Or click here to add your suggestions to the Advocacy Corner. 

We appreciate your feedback!

For more information about this committee, click here to watch a short video.

Advocacy Update: April 2024

The Canada Revenue Agency recently published Proposed Amendment - Exemption for Counselling Therapy Services.

This publication explains the GST/HST implications of adding counselling therapy services to the list of services that are GST/HST exempt. Any commentary in this publication should not be taken as a statement by the Canada Revenue Agency that the proposed amendment will become law in its current form.

1. When will the amendment come into effect?

The amendment will come into effect when Bill C-59 receives royal assent and becomes law. There is no timeline for when that will occur.

2. Will all supplies of counselling therapy services be GST/HST exempt under the amendment?

The amendment will only exempt from the GST/HST a counselling therapy service where the service is rendered to an individual by a practitioner of the service.

The definition of practitioner found in section 1 of Part II of Schedule V would be replaced with the following (for additions, note the bolded text):

practitioner, in respect of a supply of optometric, chiropractic, physiotherapy, chiropodic, podiatric, osteopathic, audiological, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, psychological, psychotherapy, counselling therapy, midwifery, dietetic, acupuncture or naturopathic services, means a person who

a. practises the profession of optometry, chiropractic, physiotherapy, chiropody, podiatry, osteopathy, audiology, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, psychology, psychotherapy, counselling therapy, midwifery, dietetics, acupuncture or naturopathy as a naturopathic doctor, as the case may be,

b. where the person is required to be licensed or otherwise certified to practise the profession in the province in which the service is supplied, is so licensed or certified . . . 

CRA released the information on the proposed amendment before the tax exemption law comes into effect because the CRA is receiving ongoing pressure from practitioners and the public to see this change take effect, and the CRA has made similar changes for the services of naturopathic doctors.

However, there are inaccuracies in the information provided. Some of them include:

  • Did not acknowledge that "Registered Psychotherapist" is a regulated title in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
  • Focus primarily through the publication on counselling therapy and not counselling therapy and psychotherapy services.
  • Unclear use of terms like “service rendered to an individual,”
  • Inclusion of considerations for provincial associations only, not national associations

For more information, please check the Government of Canada website.


HST VICTORY! The Beginning of the End of a Long Campaign

On Tuesday November 21, the federal government tabled its fall economic statement. In the statement, the government proposed to exempt professional services rendered by psychotherapists and counselling therapists from GST/HST. Legislation will now be introduced and (very likely) passed in the house in the coming months.

This is a huge win after a long and arduous campaign in which the OSRP partnered with and brought new life to the efforts of organizations such as the CCPA and PRPA with our own petition (Stop Taxing My Therapy) and the resulting December 2021 first reading of Bill-C-218. This, along with a parliamentary petition signed by over 14,200 Canadians and a massive letter-writing campaign, led to more debate in Parliament, a second Bill (C-323) which made it to a second reading where it was unanimously voted to the next step. The Tax Free Therapy Coalition built and populated a robust campaign website at www.TaxFreeTherapy.ca which includes media articles and celebrity endorsements. We were able to secure meetings with elected representatives, the majority of whom were surprised to hear about this unfair tax. 

Each and every member of the OSRP should be enormously proud of what has been accomplished by psychotherapists working together with the full support of the OSRP Board. None of this would have happened without you. It is amazing what can be accomplished when we work together. Congratulations!   

You deserve our thanks for your letter-writing, your petition-signing, and your sharing of materials and calls to action. Particular thanks to Andrea D'Onofrio who founded the HST Task Force, Stephanie Woo Dearden, and other members of the HST Task Force and Advocacy Committee past and present who contributed their time, energy, contacts and passion to achieve this important milestone for our profession. At last, we will achieve tax equity with other professionals providing psychotherapy. 

At present, we can't stop charging or remitting HST on our psychotherapy services until the legislation is tabled in a government bill. It is possible that this legislation will include a start date, we just don't know yet, but with our partners at CCPA and PRPA we will continue to press for enactment as soon as possible.

You will be updated as more information unfolds. 

Gratefully,

The Advocacy Committee

PS: If you haven't already signed up to attend this Friday's AGM from 1pm-3pm on Zoom, please do so here.

We want to celebrate together and plan for a victory party   as promised at last year’s AGM

FALL UPDATE

GST/HST BILL 2nd reading

On September 25, MP Stephen Ellis presented the last part of his second reading of his GST/HST Bill C-323. This will go to a vote tomorrow, and then to the HoC Standing Committee on Finance for further debate.

We appreciate all the efforts of OSRP members to write to their MPs to urge them to vote in favour of this Bill, and we are going to ask you to do so again.

Click here for the template of a letter to send to your MP, or you could email or tag your MP on social media, asking them to vote YES to Bill C-323 tomorrow, and support Tax Free Therapy. 


At an August 22 media conference which generated an estimated 1.2 million impressions, RP Lindsey Thomson spoke passionately about the deadly consequences of limiting access to therapy. Thomson’s call to the Federal government to end this tax can be seen HERE.  The Tax Free Therapy Coalition’s Countdown clock to the 2025 (likely) election and need to change can be found HERE.

More than a million Canadians saw, heard or read about this issue following the media conference. The majority of coverage came from CTV television news outlets across Canada, including Vancouver, Winnipeg, Atlantic and Edmonton local news broadcasts (see image below). Coverage also came from online sources, blogs and radio. Known as “earned media” (as opposed to expensive paid advertisements), these impressions are highly valued and indicate how much interest there is nationally in this issue.

These media hits could not be better timed as Canada’s leaders headed to pre-Parliament cabinet and caucus meetings, readying themselves for the Sept 22nd opening of this Parliament. We hope September's house business will include Dr. Stephen Ellis’ Bill C-323: An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (mental health services) completing its second reading in the House. As previously reported here, the NDP has pledged to support it.

Thank you to all advocates who have written, called, and visited their MPs to push for this important measure. Now is a great time to revisit this with your MP – please find an updated letter template HERE. Meanwhile, the Tax-Free Therapy Coalition continues to meet with important policy-makers and advocate for the end of this unfair tax.

Should you wish to join the Advocacy Committee, which meets next via Zoom on September 29th, please do not hesitate to contact us at: advocacy@psychotherapyontario.org

Rachel Fulford & Dr. Natasha Tuletta-Bowman, Co-Vice Chairs, OSRP Board of Directors, Co-Chairs, Advocacy Committee of the OSRP

SUMMER UPDATE

The Tax Free Therapy Coalition, of which the OSRP is a founding and active member, continues to lobby high-level decision makers regarding the unfair tax on Psychotherapists/Counselling Therapists while The House of Commons is in summer recess. (Click here for their schedule.)

For a great introduction to this issue, you will find OSRP Advocacy Committee Member Daniel Farb's excellent video at HERE.

There are two Bills currently moving through this parliament:

  1. NP MP Lindsay Mathyssen's Private Members' Bill C-218, which received first reading December 2021, and which was referred to in the petition she sponsored, signed by over 14,200 supporters and tabled March 6, 2023,

    and

  2. PC MP Stephen Ellis' Private Members' Bill C-323, which received first reading April 23, 2023. CLICK HERE for video/transcript of an incredible debate about this issue on the floor of the House of Commons.

The NDP have pledged their support to the PC Bill, which received a better number in the "order of precedence" [1] than theirs.

This Bill is expected to get a second reading/debate in fall 2023.

Meanwhile, we are keeping the pressure on with ongoing activism including letter writing, the two Bills, and the petition, all of which have been effective in raising awareness and opening doors for us to make our case.

Letter-writing tools and social media shareables can be found at TaxFreeTherapy.ca.

We were approached by Canadian Affairs, a national media organization, for a story on this issue, and we provided interviews, including from a client POV, re: how this tax is a barrier to access. Here is a LINK (free to read if you register for Canadian Affairs), and it is here as a PDF. Feel free to share far and wide.

If you have any questions about what you can do to help with this effort, or news about support from your MP or others, please don't hesitate to reach out to us by emailing advocacy@psychotherapyontario.org.

We hope you have a restorative Summer.

All the best,

Rachel Fulford & Dr. Natasha Tuletta-Bowman, Co-Vice Chairs, OSRP Board of Directors

Co-Chairs, Advocacy Committee of the OSRP

[1] The “Order of Precedence” is a number randomly assigned which determines when Private Members’ Bills go to second reading, and to the next stage in the legislative process. Click here for the explanation from the House of Commons. 

NEW LETTER TO FINANCE MINISTER — FROM MP MATHYSSEN!

Please find the May 11 letter from MP Lindsay Mathyssen to MP and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland re: GST/HST on therapy.

Your support, and your signatures, are referenced in this letter. 

Here is the correspondence from OSRP Advocacy Committee Member Daniel Farb, RP, sharing his informative video with MP Mathyssen, and her reply  to which she attached the above letter to the Finance Minister. 

MP Mathyssen clearly understands this issue. She writes: "The response given by your department was extremely disappointing...I would like to know how your department came to the conclusion that psychotherapy and counselling therapy involves different services?"

Great question.

We will keep you updated on any progress by posting ASAP on this Advocacy Corner, so please check back for more.

BREAKING NEWS

The CCPA-ACCP and the Tax Free Therapy Coalition have released a statement in both official languages – please click HERE for more.

It’s obvious to everyone that your letters to MPs are making a difference. 

And now there's a video making a difference too!

OSRP Advocacy Committee member extraordinaire Daniel Farb, RP, created and narrated this entertaining and Informative piece on the GST/HST exemption issue. 

It’s the video you didn’t know you needed! 

Please post and share widely.

As reported HERE in the March 28th Central, and ongoing since then, several MPs and their staff have advised that their offices have been flooded with GST/HST exemption letters. 

The newly-merged Advocacy Committee + HST Task Force met April 14, and brought renewed energy to meeting with politicians and decision-makers, now that we are all fully briefed on this important issue.

WHAT CAN I DO?

  • Write to your MP AGAIN, cc-ing the Minister of Finance chrystia.freeland@parl.gc.ca. Call on government to take action now that three parties, including the Finance Committee, have advocated for GST/HST exemption for all mental health professionals

  • Consider asking for a meeting with your MP.  A member of the Advocacy Committee can join you. If your MP is interested in meeting, let us know at advocacy@psychotherapyontario.org 

  • Ask your colleagues and friends to write to their MPs

  • Consider writing a letter to the editor of your local paper, as this person did

  • Join the Advocacy Committee - click HERE.

  • Read our updates

WHAT IS OSRP DOING?

  • Stepping up our work with partners (CCPA, PRPA, Impact etc.) on behalf of our members, to amplify our voices

  • Continue to call on the Federal Government to take action now that three parties have expressed support

  • Setting up more meetings with decision-makers

  • Stay tuned for a survey drafted by OSRP for all PRPA and CCPA members to learn more about rates for psychotherapy/counselling therapy in Canada, and how our rate-setting is affected by GST/HST

Important actions and meetings are arising from your activism, and we will keep you informed of all new developments.

Click here to read the Finance Committee's recommendation, echoing bills from two opposition parties, and our press release!

MP Stephen Ellis’s Private Member’s Bill C-323, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (mental health services), received its second reading on April 25.

Read the transcript of the complete debate, with PC and NDP members pushing the government on all fronts to change this unfair tax for good:

Here are some key quotes from MPs:

"...what can we do to help support all Canadians? We can modify the Excise Tax Act and eliminate the taxes on psychotherapy services and mental health counsellors. Even though we may say this is not a huge issue, we have an opportunity to do something. The government needs to look at opportunities so we can stop talking, make a difference and do something to help the health of Canadians." - MP Stephen Ellis, introducing the Second Reading of his Bill

MP Ellis's answer to the first question, from the Speaker of the House:
"We can find proper titles for professions such as psychotherapist and mental health counsellor. I think that it is possible, then, to group together all professions offering the same services even if they have different names. I think that this is a way to find the process that will be best for all Canadians."

Next question (similar) got the following response from Ellis:
"I do not think the nomenclature needs to allow us to not be able to move forward and cause us to have paralysis on this. We need to move forward for the betterment of all Canadians."

"The Bloc Québécois is really pleased to support Bill C‑323 to make a real difference in the lives of those who need help and to offer them a GST exemption." - MP Mrs. Claude DeBellefeuille (Salaberry--Suroit, BQ)

"I want to talk a bit about our party's history on this. A 2017 NDP-sponsored bill would have removed GST from psychotherapy services. Bill C-218, sponsored by my colleague from London—Fanshawe, would also have removed GST from psychotherapy services. It is currently out of the order of precedence, so, again, we commend our colleague for moving this forward. The same colleague from London—Fanshawe presented a petition to the House of Commons to remove GST from counselling therapy and psychotherapy services. That petition received over 14,000 signatures. When the Conservatives' order of precedence comes forward, we do like it when they take NDP bills. This is something we are just starting to get used to." - MP Gord Johns (Courtenay-Alberni, NDP Health Critic, who seconded MP Lindsay Mathyssen's Bill first read Dec 2021 in the House.

    UPDATE #1:

    Unfortunately, all 14, 244 signatories to the HoC petition have by now received a disappointing message from the Finance Minister.
    This message is not new and has been received by her constituents and other letter-writers for years. This does NOT mean that our cause is hopeless.

    • Many meetings are happening with important decision makers who can affect the status quo, empowered by the support for GST/HST exemption.
    • The National Coalition is working on a response to the response.
    • There will also be a second reading of MP Ellis’ bill (TBA) and by the way, this response doesn’t kill MP Mathyssen’s bill from future readings either.
    • We will update you further when we have more outcomes to share.

    UPDATE #2: Your letters to MPs are making a difference.

    As reported HERE in the March 28th Central, and ongoing since then, several MPs and their staff have advised Advocacy Committee members that the volume of letters to MPs has been noticed.
     
    Important actions and meetings are arising from your HST activism, and we will keep you informed of all new developments.

    The Ontario Society of Registered Psychotherapists (OSRP) continues to call on the Federal Government to Take Action now that three parties have expressed support.

    Click here to read the Finance Committee's recommendation, echoing bills from two opposition parties, and our press release!

    The newly-merged Advocacy Committee + HST Task Force met on Friday April 14, and brought renewed energy to attending meetings with politicians and decision-makers, now that we are all fully briefed on this important issue.

    Proposed Next Steps for the Advocacy Committee

    • Encourage all members and supporters to write to their MPs AGAIN, cc-ing the Minister of Finance chrystia.freeland@parl.gc.ca to call on government to take action now that three parties, including the Finance Committee, have advocated for GST/HST exemption for all mental health professionals
    • Continue coordinating with partners (CCPA, PRPA, Impact etc.) on all Advocacy on behalf of our members, to amplify our voices