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. Currently the only program in BC is at the UBC Faculty of Medicine, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. With only 48 domestic seats, BC is home to the smallest English speaking occupational therapy program in Canada, despite having the 3 rd largest population. Over the past 5 years, approximately 27% of the newly registered occupational therapy workforce comes from British Columbia. This means that the province is heavily reliant on in-migration from other parts of Canada or Internationally. CAOT-BC is advocating for a stable and consistent “home-grown” workforce to meet the demand. A founding member of the BC Occupational Therapy Workforce Collaborative, CAOT-BC partners with key stakeholders to share information, engage in discussions, participate in coordinated planning and where appropriate work together in joint activities in order to ensure a sustainable occupational therapy workforce.
- Inclusion of occupational therapy on extended health benefits plans in BC: Working with volunteer members, CAOT-BC supports an Extended Health Benefits Working Group, with the aim of increasing the number of extended health benefit plans in BC that include occupational therapy.
Second, to communicate the value of occupational therapy to external stakeholders . CAOT-BC uses a variety of means to address this, including:
- Press releases and responses to 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 CampaignSince 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.
To date CAOT-BC has:
- 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 two “Occupational Therapy days” at the BC Legislature, which included over 40 meetings with MLAs, Ministers and MLA staff
2016 CAOT-BC Day at the Legislature
2017 CAOT-BC Day at the Legislature
- Presented to the Select Standing Committee on Health (2016) and was cited in the 2016 committee report Looking Forward: Improving Rural Health Care, Primary Care and Addiction Recovery Programs
- Continued to build on relationships formed with key government officials and stakeholders
Talk to an OT
CAOT-BC has partnered with Pharmasave, a prominent Canadian retailer, as well as other home health providers to deliver valuable health information to community-dwelling adults and seniors. At Talk to an OT clinics, volunteer occupational therapists and CAOT-BC staff provide education on a variety of health topics, while also increasing awareness of the services offered by occupational therapists. To date, CAOT-BC has facilitated 11 Talk to an OT events in communities across BC.
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 2016-17 membership year, CAOT-BC attended over 26 events, including the Vancouver Wellness Show, Autism Walk & Resource Fair, HME Fair, HSA Conference, WorkSafe BC Conference 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: Office of the Seniors’ Advocate, BC Care Provider Association, PainBC, Health Sciences Association of BC, ICBC, WorkSafeBC, Home Medical Equipment Dealers Association of BC, RoadSafetyBC, Pediatric Occupational Therapy Council, Canadian Mental Health Association and many others.
For OT Month 2017, CAOT-BC ran a proclamation campaign, encouraging members to submit requests for OT Month proclamations in their communities.
Proclamations were received for Vancouver, Victoria, North Vancouver, Saanich and the Province of BC.
In addition to proclamation requests, articles about occupational therapy were published by many of CAOT-BC’s community partners.