President's Message
March 25 2020

Hello to all the OAMHP members and colleagues.

We’ve all been receiving a great deal of information in the past days related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The volume of advice and recommendations can be overwhelming. To help you process this information, we are passing along some information we feel is pertinent to mental health professionals and the challenges we are currently experiencing.

Legal Advice

We have posted an article on the OAMHP.ca website from Julia Martin LLP. Julia provides general legal counsel to our association and has drafted an article which provides an overview of the Federal Government’s announcement regarding several measures to assist self-employed individuals and small businesses during the COVID-19 Pandemic. There is also a brief summary at the end of this message.

This directly applies to many of our members who are self-employed and/or operate private clinics. Important to note is that if you do not have “My Account” with the CRA, you’ll need one to access the benefits and setting up an account can take time. If you file your taxes or HST returns online, you likely already have an account. You can read the full article and see all the resources regarding COVID-19 here.

Professional Development

Like all of you, we are practicing social/physical distancing. We are making changes to our Professional Development events so that we can continue to deliver high-quality learning experiences, only now all online. We will email you with the latest professional development opportunities. You can also check our listings under News and Events to see the latest updates.

Q&A From the OAMHP Membership

We have received questions from our members regarding best practices and procedures to deal with virtual and distance delivery of mental health services. The responses to these questions are applicable to many professionals so we are providing the questions and answers below:

  1. I am moving my practice from face-to-face to online. What platforms does OAMHP recommend I use?
    While OAMHP does not endorse a single platform, there is information regarding some of the different platforms/software you can use on our website. Please ensure you obtain specific consent from your clients for virtual contact and treatment.
    Our Resource page also contains links to standards regarding electronic practice from CRPO and our Standards of Practice.
  2. Mental health practitioners are now listed among the essential services, this means I can keep my office open. Should I do so?
    The government has included mental health services among those listed as essential however we do believe the intent of this is primarily related to funded settings and to care only for those in the public who are perceived to be at high risk. The Colleges have left the decision to stay open in this way up to the individual practitioner and we recommend that for those who are contemplating the continuation of face to face service, we ask that you seriously weigh the risks of dropping this direct contact against the need to physically isolate in order to ‘flatten the plank’ of Covid-19.
  3. I got my insurance through OAMHP, using McFarlan Rowlands. Does it cover e-counselling: video and telephone?
    Yes, our plan with McFarlan Rowlands covers and includes this, though it’s always a good idea to double check with the insurance provider. Information on insurance can also be found within this article on our resource page.
  4. Are we doing anything as an association to support the public?
    We are working with other associations, the Ontario government and additional healthcare providers to share opportunities and calls for support from the community. We recently shared a call from the government seeking healthcare providers to assist. We will continue to share calls like these as they become available. 
  5. How do I explain the importance of social distancing to my family and community?
    Many public health agencies report seeing that people are not adhering to guidelines and continue to congregate together. To contain the spread of the virus, this behaviour must be stopped. Please keep in mind that ‘social distancing’ is really meant to be ‘physical distancing,’ remaining at least 6 feet apart from everyone else.

With some relatively simple modifications in behaviour and leveraging technology, we can stay in touch with those we care about without actually touching. Do not be shy about reminding people who are resistant to keeping their physical distance that this critical, temporary step may save the life of the exact person they are hoping to comfort.

It is important for people to maintain social connections in this time of increased stress. Make the right choices and do your part. 

Once again, the staff, committee members and the board of directors of the OAMHP urge you to follow the advice of our public health professionals and we encourage you to reach out should you have questions, advice and recommendations which may benefit your colleagues.

Keep safe, be healthy and stay in touch (virtually)!

A Brief Summary of Government Relief Programs for Small Business Affected By COVID-19
Wage subsidy: Eligible small employers will receive a wage subsidy for a period of three months. This is equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
Defer tax filing: Businesses can defer the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. The government will not initiate any GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks.
Emergency care benefit: Up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks for workers who need to stay home due to illness, parents who need to take care of children, or those taking care of a sick family member.
Small Business Loan: Low-interest loans up to $100,000 if your business has been generating revenues for at least 24 months.

This information is provided as a guide only. For further information on these programs and benefits, please consult the Government of Canada website for definitive information.

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Suzanne Dennison
OAMHP President

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