Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests and colleagues:
For those that don’t know me, I’m Dr Jonathan Douglas, the President of the Ontario Psychological Association, and it’s my pleasure to welcome you to our Queens Park Reception. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedules to join us this evening.
It’s such a thrill to be back at Queens Park for our third consecutive Reception, and our first shared event not only with our friends at CAMH, but with several of the great universities and hospitals that do our training. Each year, this event gets bigger, and each year it feels like we garner more attention. It is such an honour to be back to remind you not only of the great work that psychologists do, but that psychologists are here to help you solve some of the pressing problems that you are faced with.
Let me begin by telling you a little about what a psychologist is. We are both academics, and clinicians, bringing the high quality of our training into our work with our clients.
We are researchers, studying the brain, the mind, and their interaction with society. We are in the schools, identifying students with special needs, and helping them reach their full potential. We are in hospitals and family health teams, providing in-depth assessments and diagnosing psychological disorders and brain injuries. We are in our own clinics, helping the injured recover from automobile or industrial accidents. We provide information to insurers, lawyers, the courts, and programs such as ODSP, helping to ensure just outcomes based on our objective assessments. We help the military members, veterans, and first responders deal with the horrors they face every day. We’re poised to swing into action to serve the Syrian refugees. We do so much great work for the people of Ontario. We are justly proud of our extensive training, our high ethical standards, our commitment to objective assessments, and our ability to diagnose and treat psychological disorders with empirically validated psychological methods.
And yet, there is more that psychology can be doing. We are keenly aware of the two-tiered health care system in Ontario—the one that allows those with mental health issues to see a psychologist right away if they have benefits; the one that puts them on a waiting list if they don’t. The two-tiered health care system allows parents with good jobs to seek psychoeducational assessments of their children, or to go on a waiting list in the school system. There are so many examples like this. And last weekend saw the tragedy in Attawapiskat. The problems there are the most complex imaginable…and yet, they may be the least likely to have access to the expertise of psychologists.
Psychologists have the skills, and the willingness, to help the impoverished. With telehealth, we can extend our reach into the furthest corners of the province. We want to help all the people of Ontario—not just the rich, and not just the urban. The homeless need our services to get off the streets; inmates in jail need our help to stay out of prison. The elderly need our help to live independently, and their families and doctors would like our guidance for such decisions as whether or not they should continue driving. Wherever there is suffering, there should be access to psychologists.
There are so many issues facing this province, and so many of them, at their core, are something that psychologists can help with. And here is the good news, the light at the end of the tunnel: Thanks to people like you, there is increasing access to psychology. We’re seeing positions open in hospitals, in family health teams, in corrections, and in other public facilities. It’s getting easier to see a psychologist.
As we reach out to you, to remind you of who we are, and how we can help, I ask you to reach out to us, the psychologists of Ontario. Look on us a resource. We’re here to help you solve problems for the people of Ontario. And we are so very pleased to know that you’re listening.
--Dr Jonathan Douglas