QUEEN'S PARK — Joined by Registered Psychotherapists and the Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Mental Health Professionals, NDP MPPs Jill Andrew (Toronto—St. Paul's) and France Gélinas (Nickel Belt) announced the retabling of their co-sponsored bill: Make Psychotherapy Tax-Free Act, 2023. The Bill would remove the unfair tax treatment levied against Registered Psychotherapists as the only mental health professionals that have to charge their clients 13% in HST on the essential mental health service they provide.
"Mental healthcare is healthcare and should be part of Medicare”, said Andrew. “It must be made accessible to all those in need of it when they need it, regardless of their financial situation. Removing HST from Registered Psychotherapist services is an important step and immediate change we can make to move our province in this direction. There is no justifiable reason for this selective tax treatment while mental health professionals such as social workers, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, and psychologists are not mandated to charge HST while providing the same service of psychotherapy."
As Ontario faces joint affordability and mental health crises, rents, groceries, gas or transit, and the overall cost of living has skyrocketed. All while report after report shows that there have been significant increases in people's struggles with anxiety, depression, addiction, grief, eating disorders, systemic discrimination, and mental health in the past few years.
The 13% additional cost to receiving mental healthcare can be the difference between someone getting the help they need – often preventatively of a larger crisis requiring hospital care – or not.
"It has been over ten years since Ontario's Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions released its report calling for drastic change to mental health services in our province,” said Gélinas. “Unfortunately, nearly none of the 23 recommendations have been implemented. The demand for mental health services is steadily increasing. While Registered Psychotherapists and mental health professionals have demanded this change in tax treatment for a decade now, the reality facing our province right now means the government must finally act on it."
The two MPPs look forward to bringing their Private Members Bill to the table in the first week the legislature returns on February 21st. It was first tabled back in April 2022.
We urge Ontarians to join our call to sign the petition to end the unfair tax treatment of Registered Psychotherapists to increase access to mental healthcare.
"Mental health challenges are as diverse as those suffering from them. And different mental health professionals are trained to support different mental health needs depending on various factors. Simply put, there is no "one size fits all" approach when it comes to assessing, diagnosing, treating, and supporting mental health challenges. We need a full spectrum of mental health professionals to support the growing range of mental health supports needed by our vastly diverse population. A tax on one places an unnecessary barrier and burden on access." – Maryann Istiloglu, Executive Director of Ontario Association of Mental Health Professionals.
“Charging HST adds an additional burden and barrier to vulnerable people who just want to access therapy and who are coming to RP’s for healing support. These are people who, with mental health support, are more engaged and productive in society. People who, with the right care, cost the system much less money in the long term. More people out of hospitals, out of the jail system, out of shelters, more people working, able to pay taxes and positively contribute to society. Psychotherapists are critical to this success, but only if our services are affordable.” – Ashley Miller, Registered Psychotherapist & Clinical Supervisor.
“Right now in Ontario, the same essential service – that is, psychotherapy is exempt from HST if it’s provided by any regulated professional other than Registered Psychotherapists. The tax requirement depends on who’s providing the service, not on the service itself. Psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, doctors, nurses and, of course, psychiatrists and registered psychiatric nurses can all provide mental health care in Ontario without charging HST. Only Registered Psychotherapists are obliged to charge HST. For the same service.” – Caroline Rosta, Registered Psychotherapist, Certified Grief Specialist, Clinical Supervisor & safeTALK Trainer.
"Communities that have been made marginal, such as the Black community, are in critical need of high quality, tax-free, free, and long term mental health supports and therapy. Recently released research from the Black Health Alliance's Pathways to Care Project shows that Black youth in Ontario experienced multiple barriers to accessing mental health care. This includes financial barriers for youth who may not have access to insurance and rely on free or low-cost mental health services. It is imperative that we remove all barriers to mental healthcare whenever and wherever possible." – Dr. Fatimah Jackson-Best, Project Manager of Pathways to Care, and Assistant Professor, McMaster University.