Public Notice - Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) & Occupational Therapy (OT) Service Prioritization for 2022/23 School Year

Public Notice

(Yellowknife, September 21, 2022) – Due to limited staffing capacity, in-school Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) and Occupational Therapy (OT) programing delivered by the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA) are being reduced during the 2022/23 School year. OT and SLP services and supports will be available at clinic sites and will be prioritized for children with complex needs and children 0-5 years of age. Additionally, service prioritization will allow for travel clinics to continue in communities to deliver care close to home.

What is not changing?

The OT and SLP programs will continue to support children and families via regular in-clinic services, as well as through other child development teams, providing direct assessment to clients, and follow up for children with complex needs. Virtual care options will also continue where possible based on NTHSSA staffing levels, with a focus on Junior kindergarten and kindergarten, to maintain connections with students and school staff.

The following OT and SLP services will be maintained: 

  • Travel clinics to communities to ensure delivery of care as close to home as possible for residents, with focus on 0-5 age group, seniors, and children with complex needs.
  • Active service for children 0-5 years of age, prioritizing children who are approaching aging out of this age bracket to ensure they receive intervention before entering the academic years at school. 
  • Where required, in-school visits will be arranged on case-by-case basis to ensure the continuity of care.
  • Consultations with family, school staff, and support persons for children with complex needs, provided in settings most relevant to the child. 

How does the Referral Process work?

There are three pathways for referral: School referrals, Self-referrals and Healthcare professional referrals.

  • School referrals: Submitted by your child’s school when a need for SLP or OT services is assessed.
    • Schools will notify parents of this referral
    • Referrals will not be sent without parents’ consent
  • Self-referrals: You can self-refer to programs without needing a referral from a doctor or nurse practitioner. Contact your local health centre, clinic, or hospital for more information, or self-refer yourself to the program. Click here to access the self-referral form.
  • Healthcare professionals: May also refer to OT and SLP. 

The NTHSSA understands that the change in services may be difficult for parents. This temporary change in the access point for these services will allow staff to focus on the hands-on work for youth that age out of the SLP program at 5 years old. It will also help ensure travel clinics continue to NWT communities outside the hubs, by sharing resources territorially during a period of lower-than-normal staffing. 

Questions? Click here to access a Speech-Language Pathology Q+A.