OSOT Advocating on Behalf of Ontario Occupational Therapists

The Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists works on behalf of its members to position occupational therapy and occupational therapists in Ontario’s ever evolving health care system in order to enable access to occupational therapy services for those with need.

OSOT’s advocacy agenda is guided by the Society's Strategic Plan which identifies key priorities of the membership for proactive promotion and advocacy initiatives. OSOT's current Strategic Plan is focused on advancing occupational therapy in Ontario and gives strategic direction to focus on promoting access to comprehensive occupational therapy services for patients/clients and families. This drives a commitment to address emerging policy and practice issues affecting access to OT services in Ontario.

The issues listed below identify key policy and practice foci that presently drive OSOT’s advocacy agenda. Many of these issues are inter-related and are consistent to health system priorities in the province. We believe occupational therapy has much to offer in solutions-focused, evidence-based, and client-focused interventions and services!

OSOT's Current Advocacy Priorities
1. Health Human Resources
The pandemic has shone light on, and further impacted, the health human resource crisis. Healthcare professionals have stepped up during the pandemic in extraordinary ways and have seen extraordinary loss. OSOT plans to:
  • Establish networks with relevant groups to support HHR strategies.
  • Monitor emerging models of care to identify opportunities for partnerships and/or advocacy.
  • Monitor pressure points within healthcare to proactively identify areas of concern and/or opportunity.
  • Monitor and act on issues related to scope of practice.
2. Position Occupational Therapy and Its Value Within Integrated Health Service Delivery Models
Our health system needs to change and we are challenged with exploring innovative models to address client needs. OSOT plans to:
  • Enhance the voice of occupational therapy in the planning process through establishing connections with key stakeholders.
  • Offer professional development about innovative models such as Ontario Health Teams and other innovative pilot projects.
3. Long-Term Care
For a long time, occupational therapy services within long-term care homes have been inadequate. The pandemic has put needed focus on the state of our long-term care facilities and has stakeholders looking for ways to enhance the lives of residents. OSOT plans to:
  • Oversee and inform the LTCH Team’s advocacy efforts to increase access to OT services in LTC Homes by targeting key stakeholders including the Ministry of Long-Term Care, AdvantAge, Ontario Long-Term Care Association (OLTCA), and independent LTCHs.
4. Mental Health Care
Occupational therapists are mental health care professionals and we need to advocate to practice to our full scope. Increased awareness of the impact the pandemic has had combined with increased funding and focus of the government, now is our time to demonstrate how occupational therapy can serve groups and individuals. OSOT plans to:
  • Advocate with the OSOT School-based OT and Child & Youth Mental Health Teams to increase access to occupational therapy services for students, implementation of tiered service delivery models, and position occupational therapy as a resource to address student mental health issues in Ontario’s school system.
  • Monitor and identify issues related to addictions and workplace mental health.
  • Identify opportunities for growth of occupational therapy within mental health.
5. Home and Community Care
Home and Community Care is faced with a significant health human resources crisis stemming from long-term, system-wide issues including: job security, safety, pay equity, access to training and support, communication, and more. With the push to discharge clients from hospital faster, client cases in the community are more complex and require more resources and support. OSOT plans to:
  • Monitor, identify, and advocate on issues impacting access to services, health human resources issues, and opportunities within the home and community care sector.

How Does OSOT Address Its Advocacy Agenda?
The Society has committed to allocate 10% of every member's fee to support specific government relations activities. The Society has shifted away from a government relations consultant to an in-house, full-time Government Relations staff position. With this we are able to devote more resources to advocacy initiatives through strategic guidance, supports to access government officials and bureaucrats, and to keep occupational therapy on the minds of key decision-makers through advocacy activities such a submissions, government relations meetings, and member consultation.

OSOT Teams are critical to our successful advocacy by bring to our submissions, responses, and advocacy messaging the clinical experience, knowledge, evidence and insights from the field that are so critical to relay. Member inputs are sought on many issues and members are encouraged to respond to calls for reviewers, task forces, etc. These are often short-term opportunities to provide impactful contributions to advancing OT in Ontario.

Member comments and input are encouraged!