A group representing providers of counselling services went to Parliament Hill this week to lobby the Trudeau government to drop GST/HST tax obligations on their services, "aiming to address Canada's escalating mental health crisis in the lead-up to the 2025 election."
In a release sent out by the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, they say a current federal bill, C-323, aims to abolish GST/HST requirements. It is slated for its third reading in the upcoming fall session. With a federal election on the horizon, Counselling Therapists and Psychotherapists nationwide are urging the federal government to act now and ease the strain on an essential industry.
“Counselling Therapy and Psychotherapy are essential health services that over 5.3 million people in Canada have identified as necessary. However, unlike other vital services in Canada, we're burdened with the obligation to tax our services, placing financial strain on both patients and our community—many of which are already struggling,” said Kim Hollihan, Chief Executive Officer of the CCPA, a national association representing over thirteen-thousand mental health professionals in Canada.
While health providers like Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, and Social Workers are exempt from charging GST/HST on psychotherapy services, Counseling Therapists and Psychotherapists—specialists in their field—are excluded from this exemption.
“We are in a crisis for timely access to mental health services. Equally apparent is the lack of access to these services for those who can't afford them. Long waiting lists, and the out-of-pocket cost for these services are the top reported barriers. By implementing tax exemptions on our services, we can alleviate some of the financial burden across the industry, providing increased access for all,” said Lindsey Thomson, Director of Public Affairs of CCPA.
In 2021, Statistics Canada reported that counselling therapy and psychotherapy is the most unmet need of Canadians seeking help with mental health care, with 1 in 4 Canadians 18 years and older being screen positive for at least one mental illness.