July 13, 2020
In the weeks since the deaths of five Canadians who died during involvement with police conducting wellness checks, and since Black Lives Matter protests have been organized around the world, CRPO has been examining its role in the mental health system and what responsibility we have in stopping systemic racism against Black, Indigenous and people of colour.
When protests were sparked by the death of George Floyd, CRPO acknowledged the protests and made a donation to Pathways to Care. And while discussions had begun internally about further steps to take, those initial statements CRPO made only referenced the death of George Floyd, and not the racialized Canadians who have died in encounters with police during wellness checks, including Ontarians Regis Korchinski-Paquet, D’Andre Campbell, Caleb Tubila Njoko and Ejaz Choudry. This was a mistake. We are committed to doing better.
CRPO is committed to communicating transparently with RPs and stakeholders about our anti-racist actions. In the spirit of accountability, we want to share with stakeholders the steps we have undertaken in recent weeks and what we have planned:
- Following our September 2019 strategic planning session, Council adopted Regulatory objectives that include the following: Promote equality, diversity and inclusion in the provision of psychotherapy services. This objective, along with the others, will be used across CRPO Council and committee work to ensure alignment with the RHPA mandate and Council-identified strategic priorities to support accountability.
- Stemming from a March 2020 Council decision, we are actively seeking RPs from BIPOC and other equity-seeking communities to sit on CRPO committees. While colleges cannot dictate which public members get appointed by government and which professional members get elected by registrants, we do have the ability to make these appointments. Bringing more racialized RPs to the committee process to participate in decision-making and policy development will help to ensure that a forthcoming review of standards, guidelines and policies can include the perspective of registrants from and who serve these communities.
- CRPO has been developing and adopting Council Competencies, committee and panel competencies as well as a committee composition matrix to articulate the required individual and council-level competencies needed to support the election, recruitment and appointment of qualified individuals and to guide appropriate training and professional development to ensure continued competence across all regulatory and governance functions. Among other skills and attributes, the Council Composition Matrix incudes cultural experience of the communities CRPO serves, lived experience accommodating a spectrum of abilities, knowledge of gender diversity, understanding of international health professional process, Indigenous cultural humility, awareness of the effects of traumatic experiences, lived health care experience and sexual violence awareness.
- We pulled case examples accompanying our guideline on Disclosing Information to Prevent Harm because they included calling 911 or the police about a client who is in crisis. To be clear, the guiding principle is to balance client autonomy (by discussing safety planning with the client), with the need to prevent harm to the client or others. How that plays out depends on the situation. There is no explicit legal requirement to involve emergency services. The appropriate decision will vary based on various factors, including the client’s wishes, and which third party (e.g. emergency contact person, family physician, mental health crisis service, 911, etc.) is best able to respond to a particular emergency situation.
In the planning stage:
- A revision of Disclosing Information to Prevent Harm guideline. (Discussed above) to provide more clarity as to whether a registrant is required to involve police or call 911 for clients who are in crisis and to provide other guiding resources and options instead.
- A review of Professional Practice Standards. A significant initiative to be undertaken by CRPO staff and Council over the coming year is to review and update the Professional Practice Standards. As noted above, ensuring BIPOC RPs are at the table for this work will inform the process so that it considers the needs of racialized clients, families and the therapists who serve them. As a starting point to the review, Council will be asked to consider the following: Do the CRPO standards adequately and appropriately contemplate the provision of service to racialized clients? How can CRPO ensure that any required updates or revisions are well-informed by the perspective of racialized clients and RPs?
- Public engagement plan. Virtual consultations will be used to determine how the perspective of BIPOC clients and those from other equity-seeking communities can best be sought out and included in the responses that will shape our public information sharing going forward.
- System partnerships. While CRPO staff and Council are cognizant of the scope of the regulatory role, we appreciate the need to ensure that we are an effective contributor to Ontario’s mental health system. At a time when systemic change is clearly necessary, we are aiming to work in collaboration with other stakeholders to ensure that the people of Ontario have adequate access to skilled Registered Psychotherapists. This work is in its early stages, but we are committed to engaging with members of BIPOC and other equity-seeking communities, including RPs from these groups. We will be able to report back on progress on this over the coming months.
- Reviewing the possibility of collecting racial identity data about registrants. We don’t know what we don’t track, so CRPO does not have a method of knowing how many BIPOC registrants we have, and if they face barriers in regulatory processes. As such, Council will be asked to consider implementing a mechanism for RPs to volunteer their racial identification during the registration or renewal processes. Input from racialized RPs will be sought on this matter.