This has been a dynamic and exciting period for regulation in Alberta! The events that have unfolded over the course of the past two years have resulted in a great deal of success in pursing regulation. For a summary of events see below.
Several groups met by telephone with Shawn Knight, Director of Professional Practice for Alberta Health, to discuss the need for regulation of counselling in Alberta, including opportunities and challenges in the current context, and to request a more formal meeting to identify clear next steps.
Several organizations met with Shawn Knight and other policy analysts and leaders in Alberta Health in Edmonton. The organizations were informed that the next steps toward regulation would be to collaborate with other counselling associations to agree on a definition of Counselling and entry-to-practice competencies for the profession.
Work began on networking and advocacy efforts to develop a list of counselling associations that might participate in a process towards regulation and to share with them developments thus far. A meeting for all interested groups was set for January 16, 2016 and invitations were extended.
January 16, 2016
The first meeting of counselling associations interested in regulation was attended by representatives of 14 associations. Barbara MacCallum (CEO of CCPA) facilitated the meeting and provided a historical and geographic overview of regulation of counselling in Canada. The meeting was 5 hours long and provided an opportunity for all the associations to "catch up" on the process in Alberta to date, express hopes and concerns, share their own efforts towards regulation, ask questions and dialogue. The group decided to form a coalition.
A teleconference was held and key decisions were made. The group decided to be named FACT-Alberta (Federation of Associations of Counselling Therapists in Alberta). Representatives from each member association were to appoint a representative to the Steering Committee of FACT-Alberta and guidelines for working together were established.
March - April 2016
FACT-Alberta met monthly, establishing a website(http://www.fact-alberta.org/) and forming subcommittees, including Communication, Definition and Competencies, Governance and Membership.
June 16, 2016
Two members of FACT-AB met with Andrew Douglas, the new Director of Professional Practice for Alberta Health to confirm his understanding of the next steps towards regulation and assess whether support for the process had changed with a new person in the role. It was a productive meeting, as the FACT-Alberta representatives learned more about the current political and policy climate as it might pertain to regulation, updated Mr. Douglas on new developments in the FACT-Alberta process (namely the establishment of FACT-Alberta),and that the organizations have a good working relationship to continue to move forward. It became clear in this meeting that there were numerous factors which might make it advantageous to submit an application for regulation early in the fall.
FACT-Alberta voted on accepting a definition and entry-to-practice competency profile for Counselling Therapists in Alberta. Members of the Steering Committee began to dialogue and offer suggestions on the content of the extensive and formal application for regulation.
September 10, 2016
FACT-Alberta members met for 4 hours to discuss and deliberate on the final draft of the application and voted to adopt it for submission with minor edits.
An Executive was formed for the Steering Committee.
A $50.00 fee to member associations was levied.
Members of FACT-Alberta met with Ministry of Healthofficials to discuss the application. Feedback was positive.
Members of FACT-Alberta met with Ministry of Health officials to obtain more information regarding the next steps in the application process.
Members of FACT-Alberta met with Ministry of Health officials to obtain additional feedback on the application and receive suggestions to strengthen it.
April 19, 2017
Nicole Imgrund (Chair, FACT-Alberta) met with Minister Payne and her staff to outline the need for regulation. The reception to the idea was extremely positive.
Members of FACT-Alberta met with Ministry of Health officials and received notice that a positive recommendation would be sent to the Minister of Health.
June 2017-July 2017
The FACT-Alberta Steering Committee developed and approved an enhanced application and a Workbook which was required by the Ministry to move forward. These documents were submitted to the Ministry on July 29, 2017. In addition a draft Code of Ethics was developed and submitted. A summary of the application was developed and placed on the website.
Receipt of the documents was acknowledged by the Ministry of Health. The next steps being planned are the meeting with other stakeholders to socialize the application.
Bill 30, The Mental Health Services Protection Act received Royal Assent. As a result, after many years of advocacy, the professions of Counselling Therapy, Addictions Counseling and Child and Youth Care Counselling were officially included in the Health Professions Act (HPA). A new College of Counselling Therapy of Alberta (CCTA) will be formed to provide oversight and accountability, and protect the public when receiving mental health services.