CAOT-BC is the voice of occupational therapists in BC. The provincial association engages in advocacy fulfilling the mission to advance excellence in occupational therapy practice and vision that occupational therapy is accessible to British Columbians.
CAOT-BC advocacy activities are focused on two main areas:
First, to improve access to occupational therapy in BC. Occupational therapy is a vital profession within healthcare that supports the long-term health, quality of life and productivity of British Columbians and is an essential component to healthcare teams in BC. Investment in occupational therapy enables British Columbians living with injury, illness and/or disability to maintain their abilities and independence and reduces reliance on costly health services.
In order to improve British Columbia’s access to occupational therapy services, CAOT-BC is focused on:
- Expansion of the educational training to become an occupational therapist in British Columbia. After more than a decade of advocacy work, the provincial government announced funding for 24 new occupational therapy training seats in BC. Specifically, 8 seats will be added the existing 48 domestic seats at the UBC Vancouver Campus Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy in September 2020, and 16 seats will be available September 2022 at the University of Northern British Columbia. This is an important step towards addressing the longstanding shortage of occupational therapists in BC, and will enable more British Columbians to train closer to home and, in turn work closer to their home communities. More work is necessary to improve access to services for all regions of the province, including the underserved Fraser Valley, and CAOT-BC has continued to address this through partnership with key stakeholders to share information, engage in discussions, participate in coordinated planning and work together in joint activities in order to ensure a sustainable occupational therapy workforce.
- Inclusion of occupational therapy on primary care teams in British Columbia. As the BC government’s primary health care strategy is implemented across the province, CAOT-BC is working to promote the vital role that occupational therapists play in improving primary care delivery, and position the profession as an essential component of primary care teams.
- Improving accessibility of paediatric and early intervention occupational therapy services for children and families in BC. CAOT-BC is consulting with paediatric occupational therapists and key stakeholders to identify gaps in funding and service delivery, as well as identify solutions to ensure BC's children and families have equitable and timely access to occupational therapy care.
- Coverage of occupational therapy on extended health benefit plans in BC. CAOT-BC works in collaboration with CAOT at the national level, as well as key stakeholders and volunteer members in BC with the aim of increasing the number of extended health benefit plans in the province that include occupational therapy.
Second, to communicate the value of occupational therapy to external stakeholders. CAOT-BC uses a variety of means, including:
- Press releases and responses to consultations, reports, media and other relevant communications
- Government and stakeholder relations initiatives including meetings with Members of the Legislative Assembly, Members of Parliament, Ministers and other key stakeholders
- Raising the profile of occupational therapy profession to other health professionals
- Collaboration with third party funders and community partners
- Representation and promotion at consumer, interprofessional and intraprofessional events
Occupational therapy is a vital health profession that contributes to the health and well-being of BC citizens. Improved access to occupational therapy is needed across sectors, including home and community care, mental health, long-term care, and more.
The BC occupational therapy workforce is fragile and relies heavily on in-migration from other provinces and countries.
Public Awareness Campaign
Since 2015, CAOT-BC has actively engaged in a public awareness campaign. The aim of this project is to build awareness about the occupational therapy profession to the public, media and government and to raise the profile of occupational therapy in BC.
- Produced over 20 letters to the editor, prepared several media releases and responded to key government announcements and reports
- Participated in 4 television or radio interviews
- Organized four “Occupational Therapy days” at the BC Legislature, which included over 40 meetings with MLAs, Ministers and MLA staff
- Prepared submissions to government stakeholder consultations, such as the BC Budget 2021 Consultation, the British Columbia Framework for Accessibility Legislation and the Steering Committee Report on the Modernization of Health Care Regulation.
- Continued to build on relationships formed with key government officials and stakeholders
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, CAOT-BC has been there to advocate for the role of occupational therapists as essential health care workers. CAOT-BC continues to work with regional stakeholders to address issues including access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), funding for telehealth services, front-line worker pandemic funding, and vaccination distribution. Chapter staff have collaborated with CAOT at the national level to promote the essential role of occupational therapists in addressing the mental health impacts of COVID-19, as well as providing regional COVID-19 resources and practice supports for occupational therapists to support their needs during the pandemic.
Representation & Promotion
CAOT-BC continues to raise the profile of occupational therapy to other health professionals and the public through presence at consumer, inter-professional and intra-professional events.
During the 2018-19 membership year, CAOT-BC attended over 25 events, including the Vancouver Wellness Show, Autism Walk & Resource Fair, UBC OST&OT Capstone Conference, Health Sciences Association BC Convention and the Rehab Equipment Expo, to name a few.
CAOT-BC has identified key stakeholders whose priorities align with those of the association, and continues to build relationships with these organizations. Community partners include, but are not limited to: BC Care Provider Association, PainBC, Health Sciences Association of BC, ICBC, WorkSafeBC, Home Medical Equipment Providers Association of BC, RoadSafetyBC, Pediatric Occupational Therapy Council, Canadian Mental Health Association and many others.