By Jaime Santana & Nancy Marchese
2021 marked a historic year for the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis (ONTABA). On April 30 2021, Ontario’s provincial government passed a bill to regulate Behaviour Analysts in Ontario. This came after decades of advocacy efforts related to regulation (otherwise known as licensure in the US) by the ONTABA board and community members. Notably, ONTABA took part in a Public BIll Hearing in support of this bill. ONTABA was also invited by the registrar of the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) to join the professional regulation working group. The purpose of this working group is to map out details related to professional regulation. The details related to requirements for regulation continue to be determined, while ONTABA continues working closely with CPO (to be renamed to the College of Psychologists and Behaviour Analysts of Ontario) and relevant ministries to accomplish this long-awaited goal. It should be noted that the provincial government and CPO have committed to and are very supportive of the autonomous practice of behaviour analysts. Over the past year, to prepare our members and the community for regulation, ONTABA hosted webinars covering ethics and jurisprudence. The webinars were also made available as self-paced online trainings, with built in measures for competency and material comprehension. These materials are still available today and can be found on our website.
As the world entered the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, ONTABA was Unsure of how our membership would be impacted. However, ONTABA is proud to report a strong, growing, and active membership of 1,215 members, and continues to represent the largest professional association for behaviour analysis in Canada. The ONTABA membership is made up of practitioners, researchers, students, service recipients and community stakeholders across a variety of disciplines. ONTABA’s social media platforms have been crucial in engaging and communicating with membership and the community at large. ONTABA’s virtual presence spans across Twitter (@ONTABA1), Instagram (@ONTABA1), Facebook (ONTABA), and LinkedIn (The Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis), with thousands of followers on each platform (with the exception of LinkedIn, our newest account). ONTABA has leveraged these social media platforms to share informative content (e.g., different applications of ABA in schools, explanation and examples of different ABA terminology), advocacy efforts, ABA success stories and information related to upcoming events.
Opportunities for members to expand their skills and collect BACB continuing education units (CEUs) were also made available in 2021. A series of webinars aimed towards newer practitioners were released, covering topics such as: how to have difficult conversations with families and supervisees, how to be an effective member of multidisciplinary teams, and what experienced clinicians wished they knew when they had just started in the field. Resources to support clinicians in their practice were also released, including a Telepractice ABA in Ontario resource, and the ABA in 2021: A current State of the Research document. ONTABA’s yearly conference, ONTABACon, supported members and others within the behaviour analytic community to expand their knowledge of ABA and collect CEUs. The annual conference was comprised of 8 symposia, 6 paper presentations, 25 posters, and presentations by four keynote speakers (Dr. Nicole Gravina, Dr. Lina Slim, Dr. Bridget Taylor, and Dr. Alyssa Wilson). ONTABACon, delivered exclusively via a virtual platform, was attended by 650 people. For this year’s annual ONTABA conference, innovative and novel ways to reach professionals and the community at large within, and outside of the outside, the province of Ontario are being explored. For updates and more information related to upcoming events, it is recommended that you to visit ONTABA’s social media platforms.
Over the past year, ONTABA has worked tirelessly to meet the goals outlined in our strategic plan:
- Provide leadership and advocate for ethical, effective, and safe behavioural services in Ontario: Working towards finalizing regulation and by publishing materials to help clinicians practice ethically, and began to release stories, shared by community members, about the impacts ABA has had in their life.
- Enhance services and supports for all ONTABA members, in all parts of the province: Webinars and training series have been made accessible to members in remote areas of the province by providing online access opportunities.
- Build capacity of ONTABA to achieve its missions and goals: ONTABA has secured the support of an administrative management company, as well as a website developer, social media expert, and graphic designer to ensure ONTABA’s brand is developed in a strong and effective manner, while continuing to provide exposure to the association across social media platforms.
As ONTABA looks ahead toward 2022, there is optimism about the future of behaviour analytic practice in Ontario. Innovative ways to support and grow ONTABA’s membership continue to be explored. Furthermore, with a provincial election nearing in Ontario, ONTABA will be engaging in continued non-partisan political advocacy efforts. These efforts will be focused on increasing accessibility for behaviour analytic services across communities and disciplines in Ontario. ONTABA will continue to disseminate behaviour analytic content via social media platforms, membership communications, webinars, and the annual conference. Further, the release of the podcast is planned this year. As ONTABA continues to expand its reach, maintaining our focus on our strategic plan goals is crucial in order to continue to provide the important support for membership and the community-at-large.