Advocacy Abstracts

The advocacy committee advocates for the role of occupational therapy in NS, and advocates to reduce systematic barriers that impact our clients. Advocacy is completed through written letters and attending panels/forums to discuss various concerns. Below are abstracts from those topics that the committee has advocated on.

Date: December 3rd, 2020

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Chuck Porter
Advocating for the importance of affordable housing to health and wellness from an occupational lens.

Date: January 17th, 2021

Tim Houston, PC Leader
Advocating for the role of occupational therapy in mental health and addiction services and the need for occupational therapists to be a vital part of mental health and addiction teams moving forward.

Date: February 20th, 2021

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Chuck Porter
Requesting the NSSOT be a consulted stakeholder during the Nova Scotia Housing Commission’s roundtable discussions, focus groups, etc.

Date: February 23rd, 2021

Premier, Iain Rankin
Introduction letter of what occupational therapy is, how we could be utilized to improve health care in Nova Scotia, and hopes to work collaboratively with the new leader.

Date: April 6th, 2021

Minister of Health & Wellness, Zach Churchill
The role of occupational therapy in long term care, and advocating for an equitable funding model to increase access to occupational therapists in long term care.

Date: April 22nd, 2021

Minister of Health & Wellness, Zach Churchill
We are requesting that occupational therapists be included as mental health clinicians when creating the Office of Mental Health and Addiction and the new single session therapy service.

Date: June 23rd, 2021

Minister of Health & Wellness, Zach Churchill; Premier, Iain Rankin; PC Health Critic, Karla MacFarlane; NDP Health Critic, Susan LeBlanc; President of NSGEU, Jason Maclean; Senior Director of Mental Health & Addictions, Samantha Hodder; Director of Mental Health- Central Zone, Rachel Boehm; Health Services Manager, Kim Fleming
Concerns regarding the role of occupational therapy changing in Community Mental Health and Addictions teams.

Date: September 27th, 2021

Minister of Health & Wellness, Michelle Thompson
Introduction letter of what occupational therapy is, how we could improve health care in Nova Scotia, and hopes to work collaboratively with the new government.

Date: November 1st, 2021

Minister of Health & Wellness, Michelle Thompson; Senior Director of Mental Health and Addictions, Samantha Hodder; Health Services Manager, Patrick Daigle; Director of Mental Health- Central Zone, Rachel Boehm
Requesting an improved understanding of the recent changes to the scope of employment for occupational therapists in Community Mental Health and Addictions teams.

Date: December 19th, 2021

Minister Responsible for the Office of Addictions and Mental Health, Brian Comer
Advocating for the role of occupational therapy in addiction services, and how occupational therapists could contribute to the team of the newly formed Addiction Hubs.

Date: June 21st, 2022

Minister Responsible for the Office of Addictions and Mental Health, Brian Comer; Premier, Tim Houston; Chief of Mental Health and Addictions, Dr. Samuel Hickcox 
Requesting that occupational therapists be added to the list of professions that are consulted and be named as one of the explicitly identified professions eligible to provide psychotherapy services under the proposed Universal Mental Health Care Plan. 

Date: September 9th, 2022

Letter provided to a member who provided the same to local MLA and union rep.
Highlighting the pay discrepancy between occupational therapists in Nova Scotia and other provinces. Highlighting the pay discrepancy between occupational therapists and other master level health professionals within Nova Scotia. Requesting occupational therapists be paid accordingly based on education.

Date: January 16th, 2023

Minister Responsible for Youth, Brian Comer
Introduction letter of what occupational therapy is and how occupational therapists can contribute to the current priorities of the Minister Responsible for Youth. Meeting Requested.

Date: January 16th, 2023

Minister of Community Services, Karla McFarlane
Introduction letter of what occupational therapy is and how occupational therapists can contribute to the current priorities of the Department of Community Services. Meeting Requested.

Date: January 16th, 2023

Minister of Justice, Brad Johns
Introduction letter of what occupational therapy is and how occupational therapists can contribute to the current priorities of the Department of Justice. Meeting Requested.

Date: January 16th, 2023

Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, Becky Druhan
Introduction letter of what occupational therapy is and how occupational therapists can contribute to the current priorities of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Meeting Requested.

Date: January 16th, 2023

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, John Lohr
Introduction letter of what occupational therapy is and how occupational therapists can contribute to the current priorities of the Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing.  Meeting Requested.

Date: January 16th, 2023

Minister of Seniors and Long-Term Care, Barbara Adams
Introduction letter of what occupational therapy is and how occupational therapists can contribute to the current priorities of the Department of Seniors and Long-Term Care.  Meeting Requested.

Date: April 3rd, 2023

President of NSGEU, Sandra Mullen; President of NSGEU Local 100, Laura MacMillan; Executive Director of NSGEU, Shawn Fuller
Following up on non-response from the NSGEU, following concerns raised about the OT/CT distinction in Central Zone Mental Health and Addictions settings. Meeting requested to discuss this issue and the need to prioritize occupational therapists’ concerns.

Date: April 13th, 2023

President of NSGEU, Sandra Mullen; President of NSGEU Local 100 Laura MacMillan; President of Unifor Local 4600, Jamie Pollock; President of CUPE 8920, Bev Strachan
Highlighting the pay discrepancy between occupational therapists in Nova Scotia and other provinces. Highlighting the pay discrepancy between occupational therapists and other master level health professionals within Nova Scotia. Requesting occupational therapists receive pay equity as part of the upcoming bargaining of Healthcare Collective Agreement. 

Date: April 25th, 2023

CEO of Nova Scotia Health, Karen Oldfield
Highlighting the pay discrepancy between occupational therapists in Nova Scotia and other provinces. Highlighting the pay discrepancy between occupational therapists and other master level health professionals within Nova Scotia. Requesting occupational therapists receive pay equity as part of the upcoming bargaining of Healthcare Collective Agreement. 

Date: June 2nd, 2023

Premier of Nova Scotia, Tim Houston
Highlighting the pay discrepancy between occupational therapists in Nova Scotia and other provinces. Highlighting the pay discrepancy between occupational therapists and other master level health professionals within Nova Scotia. Highlighting that the government is encouraging health professionals to expand their scope of practice, yet NSH does not allow occupational therapists to work to their current full scope of practice due to scope of employment limitations and inadequate occupational therapy resources.

Date: December 20th, 2023

Medavie Blue Cross

Requesting an increase in rate paid to occupational therapists in Nova Scotia who provide services to clients of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC). The National Fee Schedule released by ACOTPA was provided to compare to the current rate and justify the increase. 

Date: January 7th, 2024

Minister of  Seniors and Long Term Care, Barbara Adams

Highlighting concerns with the creation of new LTC facilities and renovations of current rooms without OT support on the universal design. The importance of Universal Design to promote client and staff safety, as well as to promote quality of life was highlighted. Resources, including recommended dimensions, to promote universal design in LTC  were provided. 

Date: January 24th, 2024

Minister of  Seniors and Long Term Care, Barbara Adams

After being provided with a link to the current design plans for the LTC homes in Nova Scotia, specific feedback was provided on changes that need to be made to allow for universal design.

Date: March 4th, 2024

Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, Becky Druhan

Provided an update on consultations completed as per her recommendation in  January 2023. We highlighted the barriers to occupational therapy services in schools. Meeting requested to discuss solutions to these barriers, for example an equitable access and funding model for school based services.

NSSOT Engagement

April 1st, 2021- NSSOT participated in the Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission Stakeholder Workshop

April 6th, 2021- NSSOT participated in the Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission Stakeholder Workshop

April 15th, 2021- NSSOT was invited to and participated in the Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission Stakeholder Focus Group for the Vulnerable Populations

Oct 5th, 2022- NSSOT provided a virtual information session on the role of occupational therapy within an interdisciplinary team to health professionals and managers in the province

October 11th, 2022- NSSOT participated in an occupational therapy specific engagement session regarding the Office of Addictions and Mental Health plans to provide universal mental health and addictions care in Nova Scotia

November 30th, 2022- NSSOT was invited to the Primary Health Care Partners Table. NSSOT will have ongoing engagement with the Primary Health Care Partners Table and have representation at each meeting.

March 9th, 2023- NSSOT had a collaboration meeting with the Department of Education, specifically  the Provincial Autism Consultant, Manager of the Pre Primary Division Provincially, and the Program Planning Specialist from the Student Services Division. NSSOT focused on the current role of occupational therapy in Nova Scotia schools and provided recommendations on how occupational therapists could be more effectively utilized within the school system.

May 2nd, 2023- NSSOT had a collaboration meeting with the Minister of Seniors and Long Term Care, Associate Deputy Tracey Barbrick and Kim Silver, Director of Home and Community Care. The current role of occupational therapy with seniors in Long Term Care and Aging Place was highlighted and we provided recommendations on how occupational therapists could be more effectively utilized within programs/services for seniors. 

May 9th, 2023- NSSOT had a follow up meeting with the Department of Education, specifically the Provincial Autism Consultant, the Manager of Early Learning Consulting Services, and the Newcomers, English as an Additional Language and French as an Additional Language Consultant from the Student Services Division; and the Manager of the Pre-Primary Division Provincially. Conversation focused on what stakeholders would benefit from an improved knowledge of occupational therapy services, in order to have occupational therapy services accessed for a larger array of student needs.

June 5th, 2023- NSSOT met with a member of the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS), and past and current OTs and OT students who have worked with this organization to learn about the past and potential role of occupational therapy within this service and with the Newcomer population. 

June 6th, 2023- NSSOT met with the Nova Scotia Early Childhood Development Intervention Services (NSECDIS) Interim Director of Intervention Services to provide education on the role of occupational therapy with early intervention services and to learn more about the NSECDIS program.

June 20th, 2023- NSSOT met with Michele Lowe, Executive Director of Nursing Homes of Nova Scotia Association. The current role of occupational therapy was discussed, including gaps in service. Areas that would benefit from increased occupational therapy services/consultation were identified including staff/resident injury prevention, wound care/management, dementia care, and universal design of Long Term Care homes. 

June 23rd, 2023- NSSOT met with members of the YMCA School Re-settlement staff and the Supervisor of Children and Youth Programs to learn about their programs and to discuss possibilities of collaboration between occupational therapy and this service.  NSSOT also discussed the potential role of occupational therapy with the Newcomer population. 

July 6th, 2023- NSSOT met with NSH representatives including the Vice President of  People, Culture & Belonging, Chair of Government Affairs, Vice President of Clinical Care and Chief Nurse of the IWK, Executive Director of Health Workforce and Recruitment, Director of Labor and Relations Health Sector and strategists from these departments. NSSOT highlighted the memberships concerns regarding pay inequity, inability to work to full scope of practice due to scope of employment constraints and inadequate occupational therapy resources (especially in rural areas). NSSOT highlighted ideas to increase recruitment and retention of occupational therapists in the province. NSSOT highlighted that occupational therapists are leaders and solution focused, and the benefits to the health care system if occupational therapists were recognized for the value they provide. 

July 13th, 2023- NSSOT met with 2 executive directors of Long Term Care facilities to discuss the need for increased occupational therapy services within Long Term Care. Information sharing on some of the ways occupational therapists have contributed to specific Long Term Care facilities’ system changes. Potential student placements to pilot occupational therapy solutions were discussed. 

August 14th, 2023- NSSOT in collaboration with ISANS, YMCA Resettlement Program, IWK and Dalhousie, created an Advocacy Working Group in relation to gathering information about and promoting the benefits of OT support for Newcomers. This group is now established and meets bimonthly.

August 21st, 2023- NSSOT met with Doctors Nova Scotia to highlight the benefits of having occupational therapy as part of the interdisciplinary primary care team. Information was shared by Doctors NS about the current abilities for primary care physicians  to bill for allied health services. Doctors NS offered suggestions of who we should connect with and avenues to bring awareness to the role of occupational therapy in primary care to primary care physicians. 

August 22nd, 2023- NSSOT attended a Service Codes workshop hosted by the Office of Mental Health and Addictions to offer insight into the billing codes that would be required for occupational therapists to appropriately bill for their services under the Universal Mental Health & Addictions Care mandate.

August 28th, 2023- NSSOT met with NSCSW to share advocacy toolkits. We decided to initiate the Allied Health Coalition, bringing together representatives from the different allied health associations/societies to create education opportunities and discuss joint advocacy efforts. The Allied Health Coalition now meets bimonthly and has created the Collaborate Care Education Series for the year of 2024. 

September 20th, 2023- NSSOT presented to the Nursing Home Association of Nova Scotia.  The current gaps in OT service were identified, and the benefits of improved OT support and ideas for improving access to OT in LTC were discussed. 

November 9th, 2023- NSSOT in collaboration with NSCSW held a panel based education discussion, discussing the role of OT & SW in LTC and ideas for how these two professions could be better utilized to promote client and staff safety and improve quality of life. 

November 22nd, 2023- NSSOT hosted a townhall for all OTs to discuss what they would like to see at bargaining for the Collective Health Agreement that expired October 31st, 2023. Information from this townhall was emailed out to all NSSOT members including ideas for filling out the bargaining surveys. 

December 21st, 2023- NSSOT met with the President and Communications Coordinator of the organization Advocates for the Care of the Elderly. We discussed current advocacy efforts that both organizations are engaging in for LTC. We determined that partnering to advocate for universal design of new LTC builds and renovations would be beneficial. 

March 6th, 2024- NSSOT met with Dalhousie Family Medicine Clinic to discuss the role of occupational therapy in primary care and collaborate on how to increase access to occupational therapy services within primary care.

May 21st, 2024- NSSOT met with Darren Haley, Inclusive Education Consultant, to discuss the need for increased occupational therapy services in schools. Information was provided on the benefit of occupational therapy, and the additional services that could be provided with increased resources. A need for an equitable access and funding model was identified.