The College does not set the fees that members may charge for services. However, a member may not charge or accept a fee that is excessive or unreasonable in relation to the service provided. Members also may not offer a discount or rebate to a client for prompt payment of fees, nor charge more than the member’s usual fee for a service where a third party is paying for the service. Members may accept payment on a sliding scale, i.e. variable fee depending on ability to pay. Members must ensure that clients are aware of their fee schedule before commencing services, and are required to provide an itemized account of services, upon request.
Free consultations and service agreements
Members may provide free initial consultations without further obligation, and must provide the service promised, and as advertised. If a member chooses to increase his/her fees, s/he should provide reasonable notice to clients and should not discontinue therapy because a client cannot afford the higher fee.
Non-payment of fees
If a client fails to pay a member in accordance with agreed-upon terms, this is not grounds for immediately discontinuing services. While the member is entitled to be paid for his/her services, the member must place the needs of the client first. Before discontinuing services for non-payment, the member should advise the client of alternative services/service providers that are accessible to the client. At the start of the relationship, the member should make sure the client understands that s/he is required to pay for services, and that services will be discontinued if payment is not received.
Forms of payment
Ordinarily, payment for service is made through monetary exchange, whether this takes place directly or indirectly via a third-party payor or employer. A member is permitted to barter his/her services with a client who cannot afford to pay, if certain conditions are respected:
- the services provided by the member are of equal or greater value than the item or service being exchanged;
- the bartering arrangement would not be seen to affect the member’s judgment;
- the arrangement would not adversely affect the client’s confidence in the member; and
- the arrangement is clearly spelled out and agreed to before therapy commences or continues.
Members should be aware that bartering could trigger tax consequences, and should consult with their tax professional to ensure they are in compliance with all provincial and federal laws.
Members may also charge a block fee (a flat fee for a predetermined set of services), as long as the following aspects of the agreement are established in writing beforehand:
- services covered by the fee;
- amount of the fee;
- arrangements for paying the fee; and
- the rights and obligations of the member and the client if the relationship between them is terminated before all the services are provided.
Fulfilling agreements with clients
If a member agrees, either verbally or in writing, to provide a course of therapy for a regular set fee or a negotiated fee, the member must fulfil this commitment to the client. This does not preclude a member from raising fees with proper notice, as mentioned above.
Use of collection agencies and selling client debts
While members are permitted to use the services of a debt collection agency in order to recover unpaid fees, they are prohibited from selling or assigning client debts. This does not prohibit members from accepting payment by credit card.
The Standard: Fees
Members inform clients of their fee schedule prior to providing services; charge fees that are reasonable in relation to services provided; fulfill the terms of agreements established with clients; and provide itemized accounts upon request.
Demonstrating the standard
A member demonstrates compliance with the standard by, for example:
- setting reasonable fees, informing clients about fees up front, and adhering to the agreed-upon fee schedule;
- not offering a discount or rebate to a client for prompt payment of fees;
- entering into a barter arrangement only where the client’s interests are protected;
- not selling or assigning client debt;
- advising clients of alternative services accessible to the client, before discontinuing services for non-payment.
Note: College publications containing practice standards, guidelines or directives should be considered by all members in the care of their clients and in the practice of the profession. College publications are developed in consultation with the profession and describe current professional expectations. It is important to note that these College publications may be used by the College or other bodies in determining whether appropriate standards of practice and professional responsibilities have been maintained.