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AMAPCEO calls on OPS to improve sensitivity and cultural competency in mental health services

Publish date: Wednesday, July 20, 2022 update

Photo of a hands holding a checklist with a person reclining in the background

Earlier this month, AMAPCEO provided feedback on and recommendations for improving the Ontario Public Service (OPS) Employer’s Culturally Responsive Counselling Services.

The union’s recommendations were crafted after consultations with members of its equity caucuses and after reviewing feedback from a survey open to all equity caucus members.

In its submission, the union began by noting that mental health services within the OPS have historically been underfunded, and that AMAPCEO members feel that the OPS Employer does not appropriately value the mental health of its employees. Almost half of all surveyed respondents indicated that their experience of the Employee and Family Assistance Program was that it only provides short term solutions, not a sufficient course of treatment.

The union’s submission also noted members’ preference to select their own counsellors and be provided adequate resources through negotiated benefits to pay for those services directly.

In terms of improvements to available services and how they are delivered, AMAPCEO recommended that cultural competency and general sensitivity training be required of all counsellors.

Members specifically identified the importance of enhancing knowledge of:

  • the history of certain cultures;
  • the issues facing immigrants; and
  • the racial and cultural trauma racialized employees have experienced.

They also reported experiencing a lack of empathy and basic customer service standards while accessing counselling services, and a desire for improvement in these areas.

AMAPCEO expressed appreciation for the priority the OPS Employer is putting on improving Culturally Responsive Counselling Services, and in the union’s inclusion in the consultation on improving these services.

View the union’s complete submission here.

More about AMAPCEO and our Members: Established in 1992, AMAPCEO is a bargaining agent that represents 14,000 professional and supervisory public servants, most of whom work directly for the Government of Ontario in every ministry and in a number of agencies, boards and commissions; in 130 communities throughout Ontario and in 12 cities outside Canada. We also represent employees outside the Ontario Public Service in: the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario; the Ontario Arts Council; Ontario Health (Quality Unit); Public Health Ontario; the Waypoint Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene; and in the former Offices of the Ontario Child Advocate and the French Language Services Commissioner (now part of the Ontario Ombudsman).