Advocacy



Serving the profession since 1926, the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) is the professional organization that gives voice to the more than 17,000 occupational therapists who work or study in Canada. With our national office located in Ottawa and regional chapters in British Columbia, Quebec, and the North, CAOT engages in advocacy initiatives that position our professional community to better serve Canadians. Working closely with federal, provincial and international affiliates and partners, CAOT promotes occupational therapy and advances leadership within the profession by addressing priorities and plans that are guided by its membership.

See  CAOT’s Advocacy Resources.

Meet CAOT’s Advocacy Partners.

Review CAOT’s Advocacy Framework.


CAOT’s 2019 Federal Election Playbook: advocating for OT solutions to ballot box issues



Get yourself election-ready!  Signs are up, all-candidates meetings are being booked and door knocking has begun.

Use the playbook messages and be prepared to engage!

Get the CAOT Election Playbook 2019

Advocating for client needs is part of the quality care that OTs provide.  But how can OTs take those skills and advocate for the profession in a broader social context?

Our election playbook will help you share the facts about occupational therapy as a solution to ballot box issues. Issues such as keeping seniors in their homes and communities where they prefer to be, or how OTs working in communities can provide mental health services.

These issues include:

  • Mental health and well-being
  • Aging in place
  • Pain management beyond opioids; and
  • Quality end-of life care

Find out how to become a successful advocate. Listen and learn with our playbook webinar!

CAOT has also included an Election Playbook developed as part of the Canadian Coalition for Public Health in the 21st Century (CCPH21) which outlines issues relating to broader social determinants of health, and solutions to meeting these challenges at a population level.

  CCPH21 Election Playbook


Advocacy focus

CAOT aims to improve the health and well-being of Canadians by supporting its members in having a rewarding, fulfilling occupational therapy career that recognizes the profession’s scope of practice and employs their unique skills, holistic client-centred approach, evidence-based interventions and collaborative work ethic. By engaging with stakeholders in the public, private and allied health care sectors, CAOT promotes the profession of occupational therapy as an essential component of an efficient and effective Canadian health care system. 

Access to Occupational Therapy Aging in Place: Home modifications Occupational Therapy & Primary Care
Opioids & Pain Management Access to Quality End-of-Life Care Working with Veterans

Key messages

CAOT believes that optimal care results from an occupational therapist being on the health care team. Including occupational therapists in relevant conversations regarding Federal health transfers and the health care system will bring about more robust solutions for the allocation of scarce health care dollars.

  • Occupational therapists remove barriers to everyday living so that people can live their lives to the fullest. 
  • Occupational therapy is a high impact, low cost health service that supports Canadians to stay well, remain in their homes and continue to be engaged and active in their workplace and community.
  • Occupational therapy is both client-centred and holistic – serving the mental, physical, spiritual and environmental needs of Canadians.
  • With a unique mix of education and skills training addressing all age groups across many care settings (acute, home, community), occupational therapists provide superior value to the Canadian health care system through early assessment and intervention, preventive strategies and rehabilitation.
  • Occupational therapy interventions are both cost effective and clinically effective contributions to the positive health and well-being outcomes for Canadians. These interventions: 
    • accelerate recovery from illness or injury,
    • improve management of illness and disability through personalized care strategies,
    • regain independence through rehabilitation,
    • decrease the risk of illness recurrence or need for hospital readmission,
    • decrease the risk of disability through preventive strategies, and
    • reduce absenteeism in the workplace that can result from illness  

Occupational therapy and climate change

Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment & Sustainable Development and the Auditor General assert that climate change is among the most significant concerns facing our health and economy. CAOT President, Catherine Backman believes that "climate change poses increased risks to physical and mental health to young and old alike, due to heat waves, fires and floods, and that immediate action by all stakeholders is imperative."

Occupational therapists are committed to ensuring a safe and healthy environment is protected for Canadians for years to come.

Lobbying for change

CAOT has been a visible and active advocate for occupational therapy at public and private sector meetings and conferences at: Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Research (CIMVR), the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), the Canada 2020 Healthcare Summit, the Opioid conference, the Assembly of First Nations’ Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Program, the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA), the McMaster Health Forum and more.

Advocacy resources

For sharing:

  • Occupational therapy ad


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