The Estrie Rehabilitation Centre (CRE) has hired speech therapists to partially offset the deficit of professional resources available to meet the high demand for this service. The hiring of two part-time pathologists, for the equivalent of five days a week and help reduce the long waiting list for preschool children, especially those aged 5 years.
La Tribune published in late February that the maximum number of SLT meetings at CRE happened from 20 to 15 between 2015 and 2016. The management justified this reduction in services by an increase in demand for this service and staff shortages.
“Hiring speech therapists, who will provide services until the summer, will reduce the waiting list of children aged 5 years. We are confident that the majority of children 5 years of age on the waiting list will be monitored, an evaluation consultant, “commented Mario Morand, director of intellectual disability programs, disorder and autism spectrum physical disability.
Despite these recent hires, reducing the maximum number of meetings (which rose from 20 to 15 for some children and 15 to 10 others) is maintained.
“Reductions in the number of follow-up meetings started before Christmas for some types of language profile will continue despite hiring speech therapists. This reorganization of services is required to enable us to meet the significant increase in customer base and offer services to as many children 5 years old, “says Morand who notes that for children of other age groups the service offerings are maintained at the same intensity as before the holidays.
Recall that in January, 42 children aged 2 to 3 years were on a waiting list, 14 children aged 4 and 98 children 5 years.
Impact of reduction meetings
“It is clear that reducing the number of meetings will have an impact on children. Children who are referred to rehabilitation centers are those who need a long-term monitoring. And now, some of them will only get an evaluation consulting which consists of two or three games, “said Moisan Emilia-De Serres, President of the Quebec Association of Pathologists and Audiologists.
“We are talking about front-line service, no second service line. And this is normally the CLSC who manage the front line, “she adds.
Ms. Moisan-De Serres is concerned about the impact of service reductions on children’s learning. “It is difficult in such a short time, to offer a quality service. And it is proven that early intervention is important for children with language disorders. ”
“A shortage of positions and not speech therapists”
“We can not really talk about speech therapists shortage in Quebec as was the case there ten years. Today there is more talk of a shortage of positions in the public system. There are now several graduating in speech therapy who need to combine a job in the private sector for their employment in the public sector to fill their week. Others work entirely in the private sector for lack of jobs in the public sector, “said Moisan Emilia-De Serres, President of the Quebec Association of Pathologists and Audiologists (AQOA).
March 31, 2015, the College of Speech Quebec (OOAQ) had speech therapists 2337, 89 in Estrie. If you go back five years ago, had OOAQ 1766 speech therapists in Quebec, including 62 in the Eastern Townships, an increase of 44 percent in Estrie, compared to 32 percent for the province. Also, the OOAQ expects the number of speech therapists will reach 3000 to March 31, 2016.
“The number of job openings in the public system has not followed the sharp rise in requests, while waiting lists have lengthened. Rehabilitation centers now reviewing their downward service offerings to try to answer as many requests, “says Ms. Moisan-De Serres.
The direction of the Estrie Rehabilitation Centre (CRE) recently said that the increase in requests for services for children 5 years had increased by about 40 percent last year.
“In general in Quebec, children expect much in public. The report on wait times benchmarks for pediatric speech therapy, written by the pan-Canadian Alliance of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists associations, speaks of a waiting time of 3 months for children 4 to 6 years whereas, according to my observations, the waiting time is around a year to a year and a half in Quebec, “says Moisan-De Serres.
Those who can allow to go private to have to wait, as was the case there about ten years, but it’s not everyone who can choose this solution, says President of AQOA.
In Estrie, there are a speech pathologist for speech therapists 3595 inhabitants or 27.8 per 100 000 inhabitants, a figure that compares to 27.9 per 100 000 speech therapists counted for the entire province, according to the annual report of the OOAQ.
The Montreal area has the most speech therapists per 100 000 inhabitants with 37.5 and Nord-du-Québec has the fewest with speech therapists 9 100 000.