Advocacy news from the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists.

From left: Senator Joseph Day, CASLPA E.D., Joanne Charlebois, Skills Canada CEO, Shaun Thorson

National Capital Parliamentary Awareness Breakfast

On September 27, CASLPA Executive Director, Joanne Charlebois, attended an awareness-raising breakfast on Parliament Hill hosted by the Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter of the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE). The breakfast gave association executives an opportunity to speak with Members of Parliament and Senators to promote the key role associations can play in the development of public policy. It was also an occasion to remind MPs that because we speak on behalf of our members, we bring a grassroots knowledge and perspective to the issues affecting their constituents.

In speaking with MPs, Joanne was pleased to learn that CASLPA’s advocacy efforts are well-known; our voice is indeed being heard on the issues we have been meeting with MPs and Senators about.

The breakfast was a great opportunity to learn how CASLPA can build stronger, more personalized relationships with MPs. Here are some strategies we took away from the event:
  • MPs advised us to schedule meetings at constituency offices in addition to Parliament Hill. MPs often allot more time for meetings with constituents in their own ridings than they do for meetings on The Hill. (Note: We are currently developing a strategy to take advantage of this helpful tip!)
  • We need to be proactive in providing information and feedback to parliamentarians; if we don’t, they have no way of knowing what our ongoing issues are.
  • When we do send them letters, it’s important to make them personal and concise.

CASLPA Responds to BC College Amendments
to HIP Regulations

Currently, in BC, Hearing Instrument Practitioners (HIPs) who are not also audiologists can dispense hearing aids to children of all ages simply by referral and with a diagnosis from an otolaryngologist and audiologist.

The College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC (CSHHPBC) is proposing changes to their by-laws that would restrict HIPs from dispensing hearing aids to children under 12 years of age. We, at CASLPA, believe that the proposed changes do not go far enough in amending the current regulation (Regulation 413/2008 Speech and Hearing Health Professionals Regulation, Section 6(3)).

This past summer, during a public consultation period, CASLPA partnered with CAA to write a letter to CSHHPBC regarding the development of the proposed by-laws – called Certificate D: Hearing Instrument Dispensing to Children (12-16 years of age) – as well as the acceptable program of study. In our letter, we emphasized that the current regulation and the proposed Certificate D are contrary to best practices for delivering hearing healthcare to this vulnerable segment of our population. We also requested the immediate amendment of the regulation to specify that “hearing instrument dispensing to children under the age of 16 is the sole purview of Hearing Instrument Practitioners who are also Audiologists.”

Click here to read our letter in its entirety.
To learn more about the current regulation and the proposed bylaws, visit CSHHPBC’s website at

CASLPA Weighs-In on the Health Effects
of Wind Turbine Noise

Health Canada is in the planning stages for an upcoming study on the health effects of wind turbine noise and CASLPA recently provided feedback during a consultation period regarding the proposed methodology.

In a statement released on July 10, 2012, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health said, "This study is in response to questions from residents living near wind farms about possible health effects of low frequency noise generated by wind turbines. As always, our Government is putting the health and safety of Canadians first and this study will do just that by painting a more complete picture of the potential health impacts of wind turbine noise."

In a letter to Health Canada, Chantal Kealey, Aud(C), CASLPA’s Director of Audiology and Supportive Personnel, provided a number of suggestions for the research team; including questioning participants about any history of hearing loss, noise exposure and related medical history. She also recommended screening participants for hearing disorders.

Click here to read CASLPA’s letter to Health Canada
Visit Health Canada’s website for information on the upcoming study.

CASLPA Opposes Cancellation of Supplemental
Health Benefits for Refugees

This past spring, the federal government cancelled supplemental health benefits to certain groups of refugee claimants under the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP). In addition to cancelling benefits to audiology and speech-language pathology, the reformed program will no longer cover services provided by dentists, opticians, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists, midwives, registered nurses, optometrists and physiotherapists to these specific groups.

In response to the cancellation, some health-care associations wrote a letter to the Minister questioning the government’s reasoning for this change – including the idea that these cuts will save money. Their letter argued that undiagnosed and untreated health problems will likely result in future medical complications and only defer health-care costs to when individuals are granted a more permanent immigration status.

Click here to read the open letter to Minister Kenney.

In light of mounting public pressure, the government attempted to clarify their position and the new healthcare cuts. Minister Kenney tried to ease concerns by stating that benefits remain in place for one particularly vulnerable group of claimants. But, the fact remains that under the new rules, nearly two thirds of refugees no longer receive supplemental health benefits.

Click here for more information on IFHP.

While CASLPA was not involved with the initial letter, we are now participating in ongoing discussions. On Friday, November 2, Chantal Kealey, Aud(C), CASLPA’s Director of Audiology, met with the associations who wrote the letter as well as other health-care representatives to discuss next steps.

CASLPA Requests Clarification from CRA
on Behalf of Audiologists

While most of the services provided by audiologists are tax exempt, other goods and services they provide in private practice may not be. CASLPA and CAA have asked the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to help reduce confusion with a written ruling that clarifies the current laws and eliminates any ambiguity.

This past September, CASLPA and CAA sent a letter to CRA requesting a written ruling that clarifies the issue of claiming back GST on taxable items and services and the status of tax exemption versus zero-rated.

Click here to read our letter to CRA.
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