RPs have been waiting with baited breath for the HST exemption to come into effect. The general understanding was that five provinces needed to regulate the “profession” before we could seek HST exemption from the federal government. See https://www.ccpa-accp.ca/profession/regulation-across-canada/
As we waited for the establishment of a 5th college, a petition went out over a year ago to counselors and psychotherapists across Canada to lobby for the exemption, garnering over 6,000 signatures. The 5th province, Alberta, finally regulated the profession late last year, but we still didn’t get the exemption.
Because the HST exemption turned out to be a more complex issue.
According to the Federal Ministry of Finance, the title is being given more weight than the scope of practice. Three provinces are regulated for “Counselling Therapist” (AB, NS, and NB). Two provinces are regulated for “Psychotherapist” (ON, QC). When asked if the title for HST exemption could be “Counselling Therapist/Psychotherapist,” the short answer from the Ministry was “no.”
The Good News
RPs have an active lobby that is continuing to work on our behalf to see our profession become, like our fellow social workers and psychologists, HST exempt. This lobby includes the OSRP and the PRPA (The Partnership of Registered Psychotherapist Associations). This lobby is going on at both Provincial and Federal levels. Despite the set back in the HST exemption, the lobby continues to meet with senior policy advisers to gather information and formulate strategies to pressure the government for, and expedite, the HST exemption.
The Main of the Matter
Since March 2019, Barbara MacCallum, Executive Director of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA), who is also Secretary of the Steering Committee of the Partnership of Registered Psychotherapist Associations (PRPA), has been leading the Federal lobby. Barbara met with a senior policy adviser at the federal Ministry of Finance regarding the GST/HST exemption issue. This is what she learned apart from the title issue mentioned above:
The lobby asked if the survey of 6,000 respondents and a 97% support rate for exemption would be considered adequate. The answer was that every case is considered individually and the government could offer us no information on what would be acceptable. They did suggest that a more recent survey may be required, depending on when we achieved the 5th province. The government said that letters from all of the associations across the country supporting the exemption would be helpful once we achieve the 5th province. These will be sought at a later date. The lobby asked how long it would take, once we had the 5th province, to process our request; the lobby was advised that changes to legislation such as this one can take some time, but the length of time could not be specified. When Barbara’s team suggested three years, the government did say that seemed too long.
BC, SK, MB, and PEI are all in the process of pursuing the regulation of psychotherapy. Barbara is encouraging these provinces to consider asking for both titles – Counselling Therapist and Psychotherapist. However, there will still be an ongoing effort to make the government see reason on supporting the provision of counselling/psychotherapy by removing the HST as one way to achieve their Mental Health Strategy for Canada. https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/who-we-are/annual-report/framework-action-2017-2022. As we continue to get more information from the lobby group around the HST exemption, we will keep you posted. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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