Ontario Patients for Psychotherapy
Protect public funding for quality mental health care
The Ontario Government threatens to privatize a crucial mental health service
What service will be privatized?
The Ontario Ministry of Health proposes funding cuts to OHIP-insured psychotherapy without patient consultation.
Once our treatment is cut, it’s not coming back.
It’s happened in other countries like Australia and the U.K. and denied life-saving support for people who suffer from chronic and acute mental and emotional distress.
What are the changes to psychotherapy coverage?
The Ontario Ministry of Health proposes to cap OHIP-funding for lifesaving psychotherapy to a unilateral, arbitrary maximum of 24 hours per year no matter the person’s treatment plan or need. Changes will take effect within a few months after the negotiations end. The arbitrary limit will interrupt active treatment plans without the clinician’s or patient’s approval, and will leave people with serious mental health conditions without sufficient care to recover. We are concerned that MOH may eventually remove physician coverage altogether and shunt patients into short-term interventions.
Isn't the government increasing mental health funding?
Public funding for specialized care is threatened because the Ministry of Health is shifting mental health funding to short-term treatment plans. The cuts will harm Ontarians who frequently have failed routine interventions for persistent, complex trauma or for co-morbid or medically unexplained conditions.
When is the contract deadline?
Negotiations with doctors have been paused due to COVID but will resume at some point. They have already postponed the deadline three times (September 30, 2019, Feb. 2020 and May 15, 2020).
Shouldn’t the experts decide limits?
Experts already decide the limits based on established guidelines and clinical judgment for each patient's needs. Now Ministry of Health managers want to impose a one-size-fits-all session cap despite the clinician's treatment plan. Psychotherapy patients are afterthoughts in a professional dispute with the government over psychotherapeutic modalities and service delivery.
Peer-reviewed evidence over decades demonstrates that intensive psychotherapy delivered by accredited clinicians works. Many people with acute and prolonged mental distress have found piecemeal, short-term treatments do not promote lasting recovery. The treatment is reserved for complex conditions and is very difficult and time consuming, so most psychotherapy patients do not need or use intensive treatment.
The proposal to cut funding was made without consulting affected patients because government advisors unilaterally decided the maximum hours of treatment. The OMA/MOH negotiations ban input from the affected patients, which contradicts the MOH “Declaration of Patients Values.” The message is that the voice and needs of existing and future patients of psychotherapy do not matter.
But isn't psychotherapy
You would think differently if you or a loved one (like your child, your spouse, your parent or friend) suffered from a life-threatening eating disorder, a dangerous drug addiction, serial suicide and self-harm attempts, or debilitating depression that did not respond to usual treatment.
For many the consequences include chronic hospitalizations or emergency room visits, the inability to work or to be a reliable parent or spouse due to crippling mental distress. The cost to the tax-payer of not consistently treating this at-risk population is considerable.
Intensive therapy is an essential tool for treating serious mental illness and disability. Most people do not have the resources to buy the care they need, which is why OHIP covers intensive and ongoing psychotherapy.
Who will this affect?
Adults, children, the elderly. People with combined conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and chronic disabilities. Children and teenagers experiencing psychosis, severe anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addictions or suicidal thoughts and attempts. Women recovering from violent domestic abuse, post-partum depression or psychosis. Adult survivors of childhood sexual and physical abuse, of wars and near-fatal accidents. These are your relatives, your neighbours, your co-workers, your friends.
I might lose my psychotherapy coverage?
Yes the government is threatening to privatize your care beyond the annual limit. To get the care you need, you will have to pay out of pocket for all or some of the hourly fee, currently up to $170.