Building recognition to showcase value
Who speaks for the chiropractic profession to the Canadian government, federal political parties and the private health insurance industry?
The Canadian Chiropractic Association works year-round to make the profession’s voice heard by the Canadian government to bring about the changes chiropractors want for the health of their patients and all Canadians.
CEO Alison Dantas says: “Our work is complex – many people are involved in decisions that affect the profession. Decision-makers and influencers change all the time. You need a lot of patience as well, getting governments to change policies can be a long process. That’s why we are present, active and tenacious for months – and even years when needed.”
CCA Board of Directors President Debbie Wright with NDP MP Rachel Blaney, who represents North Island-Powell River, British Columbia
Tari Stork, CCA’s Director of Public Affairs, leads the team that is focused on informing and gaining support from the federal government, civil servants and national political parties. “Much of what we do entails connecting with Members of Parliament (MPs), key ministers and their staff members,” she says. “Of course, governments change, which means relationships built over time can end. That’s where our dedication is essential as we continue building relationships from the ground up whenever needed.”
Building relationships to ensure chiropractors are heard requires phone calls, emails, meetings, and follow ups. Other activities on behalf of the profession and patients include submitting to House of Commons committees where we bring forward facts and evidence that support our case for change. Participating in coalitions with other healthcare professional associations to achieve shared goals is also essential.
The goal of CCA federal government advocacy
Build a better understanding of the unique value chiropractors offer for spine, muscle and nervous system health that leads to policies that allow chiropractors to help even more Canadians.
A recent success: Helping change COVID-19 relief program eligibility
A great example of accelerated advocacy happened in spring/summer 2020 as we enlisted CCA members in the fight for fair access to federal government relief programs.
Four federal relief programs – Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – were introduced with eligibility criteria that did not adequately support the needs of chiropractors.
The CCA mobilized members – and they responded, sending more than 8,000 letters to federal and provincial politicians asking for revisions to make the criteria fair for chiropractors. CCA staff also reached out directly to MPs and the offices of key ministers.
Eligibility criteria for both CERB and CEWS were changed. We believe our efforts contributed to this important outcome.
As these are unique times, we were pleased with these quick wins while recognizing the need to be part of the ongoing conversation about pandemic relief. That is why, in July, the CCA urged the government to allow chiropractic offices to stay open during future phases of the pandemic as well as to use our expertise to support COVID patients with their rehabilitation needs. We advocated for this in a COVID-19 Recovery Phase Submission, highlighting the need for interdisciplinary teams, including chiropractors, to help patients recover.
“The fact that we were closed in the first place shows that we need to lobby for our right to practice,” says Dr. Mecca Fayad, an Edmonton-based practitioner. “That’s not something I can do on my own. The CCA has the resources and people with political backgrounds to do that work for us.”
Conservative MP for Brandon-Souris, Manitoba, Larry Maguire virtually met with the CCA’s Manager of Government Relations, Mariyan Petrov; CEO Alison Dantas and Board of Directors President, Debbie Wright
Keeping our eye on long-term goals
Our response to the pandemic dovetailed with our long-term advocacy goals in August when we submitted A Healthier Future for Canada to the 2021 federal budget preparation process. In it, we pushed for policy changes to support those who seek chiropractic care, specifically:
The work to achieve our goals continues. It may be a long road, but our commitment remains strong.
CEO Alison Dantas explains: “Advocating for the profession is a combination of responding in the moment, perseverance to stick with it when changes are long in coming, and an endless effort to inform everyone in government about the benefits of chiropractic and why it makes sense to implement changes to have it more available for any Canadian who wants it.”
Advocacy goals in our 2020-2023 Action Plan
Improve the healthcare system’s approach to spine, muscle and nervous system health
We work with the federal government to innovate how healthcare is provided—partnering to develop policies; addressing national healthcare crises; and improving access for indigenous peoples, refugees and veterans.
Partner with the health benefits insurance sector to improve chiropractic coverage
We build strong partnerships with the health insurance sector and other healthcare professionals to sustain and increase chiropractic coverage. We also educate employers and unions about the burden of spine, muscle and nervous system problems and offer solutions.