SAC in Action
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SAC in Action: Advocacy news from SAC
IN THIS ISSUE
 
The Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Progress Report has received significant attention from both the media and key decision-makers since its release in mid-January. The report by the Canadian Infant Hearing Task Force (CIHTF) — a collaboration between SAC and the Canadian Academy of Audiology — is an interim status update on the 2014 EHDI Report Card and it reveals that far too little progress has been made by provinces and territories to address the lack of early hearing health programs in our country.

Engaging Politicians

In light of the disappointing lack of progress, SAC and the CIHTF took advantage of a rare opportunity to get the attention of key political decision-makers. All provincial and territorial health ministers, as well as the federal Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Jane Philpott, were scheduled to meet at a conference in late January. Prior to the meeting, SAC and the CIHTF sent an advance copy of the EHDI Progress Report and other supporting documents (such as the original EHDI Report Card) to each health minister, along with targeted letters that urged the ministers to address specific issues in their own region. We also sent a separate package, which included the progress report, a cover letter and other supporting documents, to Dr. Philpott. All of the letters also called on the ministers to discuss child hearing health at the conference. You can read all 14 letters on our website.
SAC CEO Joanne Charlebois, Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Jane Philpott, Dr. Chantal Kealey, AuD, Aud(C), SAC Director of Audiology and Communication Health Assistants and CIHTF member, and CIHTF member Bill Campbell, M.Cl.Sc.
 
This advocacy sparked a meeting between the Office of the Minister of Health, SAC and the CIHTF. SAC CEO Joanne Charlebois, Dr. Chantal Kealey, AuD, Aud(C), SAC Director of Audiology and Communication Health Assistants and CIHTF member, and CIHTF member Bill Campbell, M.Cl.Sc., met with Caroline Pitfield, Director of Policy for the Office of the Minister of Health, and Dr. Jesse Kancir, Policy Advisor for the Office of the Minister of Health. Over the course of their hour-long meeting, they discussed the importance of developing comprehensive EHDI programs and the need for pan-Canadian collaboration and knowledge transfer. Following the meeting, the group met briefly with the Hon. Dr. Philpott.

SAC is determined to keep this issue at the forefront and we are optimistic about the federal Minister of Health's interest in addressing the lack of EHDI programs in Canada.
Media Coverage

Several media outlets across the country covered the release of the progress report. Here are a few highlights: The effects of undiagnosed and untreated hearing loss can last a lifetime and the inconsistency in Canada's EHDI programs is unacceptable. SAC and the CIHTF are committed to championing EHDI until every child in Canada has access to the same standard of excellence in hearing health care.
      Register Now! SAC Conference: April 27-30, 2016           Register Now! 33rd World Congress of Audiology: September 18-21, 2016
May is Speech and Hearing Month
The month of May is fast approaching! For Speech and Hearing Month 2016, we are adding to our array of informational resources about communication disorders and communication health professionals and planning an engaging social media campaign to catch the public’s attention.

Over the past few years, members and associates have indicated that they would like SAC to continue developing new posters and information sheets as part of our annual Speech and Hearing Month campaign. In response to this request, we are creating new resources about vestibular disorders, childhood apraxia of speech, tinnitus and language and literacy. All of the new materials will be available on the Speech and Hearing Month website in early April, so stay tuned! 

In addition, we will continue with our Early Identification Campaign, now in its fourth year, by sending packages of Speech and Hearing Month resources to children's hospitals across Canada. This year, 15 hospitals will receive posters, brochures and information sheets to display and share with families and other health-care professionals. This campaign aims to highlight the importance of identifying communication disorders early on, and the critical role that speech-language pathologists, audiologists and communication health assistants play in assessment and treatment. 

To raise awareness about Speech and Hearing Month, we will be active on social media this May. We'd like to hear about what you're doing to promote the professions and communication health — send us pictures of your #maymonth activities via Facebook or Twitter and use this form to submit an event to post on the Coming Events section of our website.
Building Relationships With MPs
Before the new federal government was elected, SAC asked candidates to prioritize communication health with our Vote Communication Health letter-writing campaign. After the election, we continued our advocacy work by sending letters to all 338 elected MPs to congratulate them on their successful election campaigns. The letters provided MPs with an introduction to our association and the work that speech-language pathologists, audiologists and communication health assistants do.
 
Materials included in package for Minister Bennett
Materials included in the package SAC sent to the Hon. Dr. Carolyn Bennett,
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

In addition, we sent targeted letters to Prime Minister the Right Hon. Justin Trudeau, the leaders of all major political parties and three key cabinet ministers whose portfolios touch on issues related to speech-language pathology and audiology. We reached out to the Hon. Dr. Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, to highlight the important role that speech-language pathologists, audiologists and communication health assistants play in Canada's health-care system. We wrote to the Hon. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, to support Prime Minister Trudeau's commitment towards a national concussion strategy and a Canadians with Disabilities Act. We also wrote to the Hon. Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, to call for improved access to communication health services for Indigenous children.
Advocacy With the Health Action Lobby
HEAL reception    HEAL reception
First photo: Ondina Love, CAE, Co-chair of HEAL, Don Davies, MP for Vancouver
Kingsway and 
SAC CEO Joanne Charlebois. Second photo: Joanne Charlebois,
Carol Hughes, MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, and Janet Craik,
Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists.

SAC CEO Joanne Charlebois met with MPs at the Canadian Way Health Reception on Parliament Hill, hosted by the Health Action Lobby (HEAL) on February 3. SAC is one of 40 member organizations that compose HEAL and this was the first-ever Parliament Hill reception organized by the lobby group. Many highly influential MPs attended the reception, including the Chair of the Standing Committee on Health, Bill Casey, Liberal MP for Cumberland-Colchester.

HEAL reached out to even more decision-makers through another advocacy initiative early this year. In January, HEAL co-chairs Ondina Love, CAE and Michael Brennan, MA wrote a column in the Hill Times to advocate for greater federal involvement and funding in health care. The Hill Times is published in Ottawa and is widely read by government officials. By sharing details of its consensus statement, the Canadian Way, in the Hill Times, HEAL brought its message directly to its target audience. The lobby also published an advertisement in the Hill Times to raise awareness about the Canadian Way.
G8 Letter to Deputy and Assistant Deputy Ministers
The G8 Group of Health-Care Professionals has written a letter to deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers who direct influential departments in the federal government. SAC is a member of the G8 alongside the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, the Canadian Association of Social Workers, the Canadian Chiropractic Association, the Canadian Pharmacists Association, Dietitians of Canada, the Canadian Physiotherapy Association and the Canadian Psychological Association.

In their letter, members of the G8 asked to meet with the deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers to discuss common goals. The G8 has offered to share its knowledge and resources with the ministers, and to advocate for initiatives that will improve the health of people across Canada. The G8 specifically chose to contact deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers because they are senior civil servants, not elected politicians, which means that they have direct influence on the day-to-day operations of their departments.
Students: Volunteer at the SAC Conference!
We are seeking a small team of volunteers to help out at our national conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia from April 26 – 30, 2016. As a thank-you for their contributions, all volunteers will receive a $50 refund on their conference registration. The deadline to apply is March 30.
Click here to learn more.
Recommendations to the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program for First Nations and Inuit
In November, SAC was asked to take part in an interview with a representative of the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) program for First Nations and Inuit people. The program asked health-care providers from different sectors to give feedback on various aspects of the NIHB program. SAC's Director of Audiology and Communication Health Assistants, Chantal Kealey, AuD, Aud(C), provided the NIHB representative with recommendations for how the government can improve the program's efficiency and ability to meet the audiology needs of First Nations and Inuit people.
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