In January, 2002, BCASLPA became the 9th Provincial/Territorial Association in Canada to ratify a Joint Membership Agreement with CASLPA. Since then, BCASLPA members have been experiencing the benefits that joint member provinces receive from this special relationship with the National Association.
The mutual support on issues of importance to SLPs and Audiologists across the country has already taken the form of sharing resources, project development, lobbying governments, continuing education activities, maintenance of a membership directory, member benefits, and collection of annual dues. The CASLPA office houses over 10 employees under the strong leadership of Executive Director, Ondina Love.
The Philosophy of Joint Membership
Joint Membership is a philosophy. It is a belief that formal collaboration among the provincial/territorial associations and the national association will serve speech-language pathologists and audiologists best. This is especially true in Canada, where the national and provincial/territorial powers that affect speech-language pathology and audiology are complementary.
Joint Membership embodies three principles:
- The agreement requires that speech-language pathologists and audiologists be members of both their national and respective provincial/territorial associations to ensure the best use of the complementary national and provincial/territorial powers for our collective advantage.
- The agreement includes a commitment to an ongoing strategic planning process and follow-up to meet the collective, current and future needs of our professions.
- The agreement involves commitment to use operational processes which promote the most efficient and effective use of our collective resources.
Joint Membership is a dynamic concept, which is evolving as the national and provincial associations gain experience in operationalizing the philosophy. The formal agreement is relatively simple to allow for collective best interests of Canadian SLPs and audiologists to be realized, and for the spirit of the alliance to help us determine appropriate directions.
Joint Membership Expands to Embrace a Joint Alliance
In September, 2002, Presidents of the Joint Member Provincial/Territorial Associations and CASLPA met in Ottawa to discuss a Governance Structure and Strategic Planning Initiatives for the Joint Member Provinces. In the course of this meeting, it became apparent to all in attendance that Joint Membership with CASLPA can be extended to encompass a special relationship with other Joint Member Associations, and that this Alliance can work toward goals that provide members with benefits beyond those achieved by the National Association alone, or the respective Provincial/Territorial Associations alone. This "value-added" feature of a Joint Alliance began to permeate discussions about goal priorities such as lobbying governments for improved resources and access to SLP and Audiology services.
In February, 2003, the Joint Alliance approved the following definition:
"The Joint Alliance is an equal, strong, collaborative, cohesive partnership among its member organizations which adds value when addressing the priority issues facing Canadian Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists and their professional organizations beyond that which CASLPA and the jurisdictional organizations can accomplish working independently or jointly through existing structures and processes."
During the same meeting, a financial model to sustain the Joint Alliance was proposed, and has since been ratified. In this model, CASLPA continues to bear the largest financial responsibility for Joint Alliance operations. In addition, CASLPA has agreed to offer representatives of member associations free access to volunteer continuing education to support Joint Alliance activities, by providing a workshop annually at the CASLPA Annual Conference. Joint Alliance representatives benefited in May, 2003 from a CASLPA-sponsored workshop on Lobbying Government.
The Joint Alliance has agreed on a governance structure framework and is currently operating with responsibility shared equally among the member associations.
Representatives of the Joint Member Provinces have experienced a new synergy, through the Joint Alliance, that is allowing us to develop a powerful message to deliver in a harmonious chorus of voices across the country. During a period of growth and structural transition, BCASLPA has benefited enormously from the formal alliance with other provinces and the national association over the past year… particularly by having ready access to models and advise from CASLPA and JA member provinces on governance models and operational strategies to ensure efficient and effective use of limited resources to maximize member benefits.
What is the Joint Alliance’s Focus?
Through strategic planning and facilitated workshops, the Joint Alliance has agreed to work toward a primary goal of lobbying governments across the country for better access to SLP and Audiology services. Recruitment and retention of professionals have been identified as key issues of focus, and statistics have been gathered by all member associations to provide data for lobby actions. A strategy for a nation-wide presentation was outlined during the May, 2003 meeting, and procedures will be detailed in upcoming meetings.
Other JA initiatives include mutual agreements on membership dues incentives for new graduates, and joint conference models to maximize efficient use of continuing education resources.