With May almost here and summer right around the corner, we find ourselves transitioning once again in the time of COVID. The warm weather and calling garden work are suggestive of getting out and about yet it is likely that our Premier will err on the side of caution as talks begin about relaxing ‘stay home, stay safe’ orders. It is expected that for the most part, the lockdown will continue a while longer for most of us.
We recognize too that four months into Covid-19, time has begun to turn this ‘new’ normal into something we are becoming accustomed to, if still not liking all that well. Despite the dire commentary, we are starting to see fewer new cases reported daily and while we are a long way off from being okay, many are beginning to look forward to the point where all will feel safe again.
In the meantime, I want to share some important updates with you all. First, in response to the pandemic, the Government of Canada has implemented some temporary changes to the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP). These changes are designed to help PSHCP members and eligible dependents access health care benefits during the time of Covid-19.
Most recently and of greatest interest to you will be the PSHCP adjustments that have resulted in psychotherapists and social workers being accepted as mental health providers under the plan, effective April 24th. Coverage for virtual care is also now included as is the ability for a member seeking mental health services to temporarily access them without a prescription. Admittedly these changes are in effect only until non-critical business is authorized to resume or as otherwise indicated however, the recognition of the need for this inclusion is something big and of note.
Additional information on these changes are outlined in more detail on the Government site, and I encourage everyone who might be interested or impacted by them to go there and review the announcements, including the fine print.
In keeping with more positive news, I wanted also to share with you that some of my comments were included in an article published in the April edition of Benefits Canada. The ‘field guide to the spectrum of mental health professionals,’ as it was titled, was targeted at helping insurers and employers understand the value of using a wider range of coverage and a variety of regulated mental health providers within their benefits plans.
Each of these items represents just one small success and so I remain cautious, yet I am also optimistic. As more comments find their way into such publications and we start to see benefit changes, albeit temporary, like those of the PSHCP, I believe more doors will open resulting in greater opportunities and inclusion for our profession in the future. For now, please know that we will keep you informed and continue to advocate on your behalf.
Please be in touch if you have any questions or concerns you want to discuss.