COVID-19 Update: Telepractice and extended health insurance benefits

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a shift in the way healthcare services are provided, whereby in-person services to patients/clients are not always possible, advisable or even permitted. The use of virtual/telepractice services is quickly increasing to help address the needs of patients/clients.

SAC has been actively reviewing information from some of the larger insurance companies that provide extended health benefits in Canada and found that some companies are extending coverage to include virtual/telepractice services.

This continues to be a very fluid situation. As such, speech-language pathologists and audiologists should ask their patients/clients to review their extended health insurance benefits plans for details and any new provisions related to claims from virtual care services. Please note that although some health professions may not be listed on insurance websites as covered providers, services may still be covered  if the specific plan has opted for that benefit. SAC will continue to monitor and share information as it becomes available.

Helpful Links:


COVID-19 UPDATE: Resources on End-of-Life Care

On March 22 Dr. Sandy Buchman, the President of the Canadian Medical Association, spoke with CBC Radio’s Michael Enright about the capacity of Canada’s healthcare system to meet the challenge of COVID-19. As a palliative care physician, Dr. Buchman discussed the role of health care professionals in providing palliative care for patients who will not survive the coronavirus and will spend their final days in isolation.

SAC’s end of life tool kit is designed to inform health-care professionals, patients/clients and their loved ones about common communication, hearing and swallowing issues at the end of life. We encourage SAC members and associates to use and share these resources.

Pallium Canada, in collaboration with the Canadian Medical Association, is providing free access to learning modules on palliative care for all health care professionals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Six Learning Essential Approaches to Palliative Care (LEAP) modules, currently only available in English, are self-directed and completed at the learner’s own pace. 


SAC Webinars:


COVID-19 UPDATE: Telepractice

Interest in telepractice has increased in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. SAC supports the use of telepractice as a means of facilitating access to speech-language pathology and audiology services. SAC’s Position Paper on the Use of Telepractice by SAC Speech-language Pathologists and Audiologists provides guidance to members and associates about this service delivery model. 

SAC members who provide telepractice services in provinces where the professions are regulated must adhere to the regulatory body’s standards of practice, including their specific professional requirements for the protection of patient/client privacy and confidentiality of personal health information, as well as processes for obtaining informed consent.  

SAC members who provide telepractice services in a province or territory where the professions are not regulated must comply with applicable privacy and health care consent legislation.


SAC Telepractice Webinar Series 

Speech-Language Pathology Focused Resources

Audiology Focused Resources


A number of telepractice platforms are available in Canada. S-LPs, audiologists and communication health assistants are responsible for selecting a telepractice platform that complies with relevant privacy legislation, as well as any other professional regulatory requirements as applicable. It is important that S-LPs, audiologists and communication health assistants research the security features of any online communication platform that they use, and are aware of advisories about security issues and vulnerabilities associated with specific platforms. We also recommended that SAC members and associates check to see if the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner in your province/territory has updated or issued additional guidance related to security and privacy protection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cisco webex
Live Care
On Call
Owl Practice
Thera Platform
WelTel HealthZoom

As with other methods of service delivery, SAC members and associates providing services by telepractice should use research evidence to guide their practice.

CINAHL – SAC members and associates can use the search terms “telepractice” or “telehealth” to access free full-text articles about this topic in journals such as: ASHA Leader, International Journal of Audiology, International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups…and many more.

ASHAWire – ASHA Journals has made a selection of relevant articles about telepractice free to all readers.

ASHA Evidence Map on Telepractice – a searchable online tool designed to help clinicians make evidence-based decisions.

The International Journal of Telerehabilitation An open-access journal addressing telepractice in allied health professions.


Other useful information:


Report on the first Membership Assembly of the World Hearing Forum (WHF) held at the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva on December 4-5, 2019

On May 31, 2017, the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA) approved resolution WHA70.13 to urge member states and to request the Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva to take specific actions.

In July 2018, the World Hearing Forum (WHF) was established to facilitate the implementation of these actions. “The World Hearing Forum fills a critical gap by bringing a collective vision to advocacy and collaboration in this field. Its members include representatives of governments, non-state actors, WHO Collaborating Centres, professional societies and industry partners. The purpose of the Forum is to promote action for ear and hearing care through global advocacy. The Forum will provide a platform where all stakeholders within this field can work together in a cohesive manner to achieve the goal of accessible ear and hearing care for all.” (WHF Handbook, 2019).

In 2019, Speech-Language & Audiology Canada (SAC) was approved to become a member organization of the WHO WHF. On December 4-5, 2019, the first Membership Assembly of the WHF was held at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva. SAC member Kathy Pichora-Fuller (CASLPA President 1985-86) attended as the representative of SAC.

The main objectives of the first Membership Assembly of the WHF were to:

  • share the vision, mission and actions of the World Hearing Forum;
  • engage members in the Forum’s Working Groups and actions;
  • propose an advocacy action plan for the next two years;
  • serve as a platform for exchange of views among members;
  • explore options for resource mobilization.

The vision and organizational structure of the WHF were explained by two key staff members at WHO: Dr. Shelly Chadha, the medical officer for ear and hearing care and Dr. Alarcos Cieza, the coordinator for blindness and deafness prevention, disability and rehabilitation. Drs. Chadha and Cieza, other staff at WHO, and distinguished guests such as the ambassadors from Japan and Kenya engaged representatives from 144 member organizations and 43 other observers in the issues and opportunities for hearing care that could unite member organizations around the world. Four working groups focused on strategies concerning four specific actions that align with the WHA70.13: (1) Make Listening Safe; (2) World Hearing Day; (3) World Report on Hearing; and (4) Fostering role models and champions in the field of hearing care.

The WHF brought together a diversity of stakeholders. It was clear that only by joining forces and working together would we have the power to make real change in ear and hearing care. The breadth of representatives of WHF members is illustrated by examples including the President of the International Society of Audiology (Lena Wong, Hong Kong) and representatives from other national organizations representing audiologists such as SAC, the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), and Audiology Australia. Other representatives included the President of the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People (Ruth Warick, Vancouver), representatives from industry (e.g., Julia Legeti, Cochlear Australia; Ora Buerli, Hear the World Foundation, Phonak, Switzerland; Stefan Zimmer, European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association), NGOs (e.g., Audra Renyi, World Wide Hearing Foundation International, Montreal), governments (e.g., Ministries of Health from Morocco and Costa Rica), and well-known health organizations (e.g., Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta).

This vision inspired the WHF working groups to harness creativity and resources from across the world and to build strength and synergistic collaborations through a consensus process. The working groups ignited great excitement as ideas from around the world and across sectors were shared. The WHF reinforced prior connections among the member organizations and fostered many new connections. Overall, excellent progress was made in advancing the four designated actions. Some of the tangible results of the meeting will be rolled out over the next two years, beginning in Spring 2020.

In May 2020, the first WHO World Report on Hearing will be published. The WHO will provide translations in the official UN languages and WHF members from other countries will be developing and sharing translations into other languages. This document will provide stakeholders in ear and hearing care around the world with a blueprint for developing national action plans that can be coordinated internationally. Stay tuned for updates on the SAC website.

In the meantime, we hope that all Canadian hearing health professionals join with others around the world in finding creative ways to raise awareness about hearing health as we celebrate World Hearing Day on March 3. To access materials and find out more about these celebrations see–world–hearing–day.


The World Hearing Forum (WHF) has been established by WHO, as a global network of stakeholders promoting ear and hearing care worldwide. Members of this advocacy network will commit to facilitating implementation of World Health Assembly resolution WHA70.13 on “Prevention of deafness and hearing loss” and supporting Member States in this regard.


2020-2021 Scholarship Recipients

SAC is proud to award 26 scholarships to the following student associates as part of the 2020-2021 SAC Scholarship Program:

Beach Family Graduate Scholarships

  • Nida Latif – McGill University
    • Nida Latif just finished her first year in the MScA Speech-Language Pathology program at McGill University. After finishing the program, she hopes to work with children with language difficulties related to autism and adults with aphasia. Her goal is to work towards providing more appropriate services in the uniquely multilingual environment of Montréal.
  • Isabella Speranza – University of Toronto
    • Isabella is currently a speech-language pathology student at the University of Toronto. She is extremely excited to pursue a career working in rural, underserved communities with the geriatric population after graduation. Regardless of location, every person has the right to communication and she is excited to be able to advocate for this.
  • Megan Van Kannel – McGill University
    • Isabella is currently a speech-language pathology student at the University of Toronto. She is extremely excited to pursue a career working in rural, underserved communities with the geriatric population after graduation. Regardless of location, every person has the right to communication and she is excited to be able to advocate for this.

Beach Family Placement Support Scholarships

  • Kendra Smith – Western University
    • Kendra Smith is a graduating Speech-Language Pathology student in the M.Cl.Sc. program in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Western University. She has a special interest in augmentative and alternative communication and plans to transition to work in a clinic or hospital setting in the coming months.

Communication Health Assistant Scholarship

  • Hollie Dorrington – St. Lawrence College
    • Hollie Dorrington is currently a Communicative Disorders Assistant Student at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario. After finishing school she hopes to work with children of all ages in all kinds of clinical settings.

Elks & Royal Purple Fund for Children Deborah Kully Scholarship

  • Levy Stewart-Bernard – University of Toronto

Elks & Royal Purple Fund for Children Susan Lane Scholarship

  • Jessica Kirby – McGill University
    • Jessica Kirby and is a 2nd year student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at McGill University. In a few short months, she will be starting her career as a speech-language pathologist. Jessica is open to working with a variety of clientele, however, the areas of aural rehabilitation and early intervention are of special interest to her.

Elks & Royal Purple Fund for Children Gordon Leslie Memorial Scholarships

  • Anika Talukder – McGill University
    • Anika Talukder is in her final year at McGill University with a plan to work with pre-school and school aged children using play-based intervention. She hopes to expand her clinical knowledge by attending a number of workshops and webinars.
  • Scotia McKinley – University of Toronto
    • Scotia is currently in the process of finishing her last placement as part of the University of Toronto’s Speech-Language Pathology program working with spine, orthopedics and cardiology patients at Toronto Western Hospital. She hopes to draw on the wonderful experience she has gained through this placement to continue treating adult patients in the acute and rehabilitation sectors in the future.
  • Konstantina Charamis – University of Ottawa
    • Konstantina Charamis is a MHSc candidate currently completing her studies at the University of Ottawa. Her professional focus is in adult populations with neurogenic communication disorders and her research interests include Shared Decision Making for persons with aphasia, with a commitment to socioculturally inclusive and responsive patient care. She aspires to practice in the clinical setting and to contribute to developments within the field of speech-language pathology with the goal of providing patients with optimal care and outcomes.
  • Christine Muscat – University of Toronto
    • Christine Muscat is a second year Speech-Language Pathology graduate student at the University of Toronto. She will be beginning a MSc/PhD in Rehabilitation Science at the University of Toronto in the fall of 2021. Her research will focus on investigating subacute paediatric stroke speech and language outcomes, on the path to pursue a career as a clinician-scientist.
  • Molly Clarke – McGill University
    • Molly is currently completing her final internship, marking the end of her Masters in Speech-Language Pathology at McGill University. She is very grateful to have received financial support from SAC in both her first and second years of study. Molly is a second-generation S-LP, following in her mom’s (Judy Lawlor) footsteps and hopes that one day they will be able to work together at home in Newfoundland. Molly’s clinical experience has mainly been in rehabilitation centres and she loves working in a rehab setting, both with children and adults.
  • Bianca Cava – University of Wisconsin-River Falls
  • Kaylee Miller – University of Toronto
  • Gagandeep Cheema – University of British Columbia
  • Regina Wenk – University of British Columbia
  • Mikayla Blumenthal – University of Toronto

SAC Scholarships

  • Charlotte Tai – University of British Columbia
    • Charlotte Tai is a second-year audiology student at the UBC School of Audiology and Speech Sciences. Upon completion of her Master of Science degree by summer 2021, she will be starting work as a pediatric audiologist and hopes to continue to raise awareness about hearing health for musicians.

Isabel Richard Scholarships

  • Emily White – University of Alberta
    • Emily is completing the second year of her Speech-Language Pathology degree at the University of Alberta. Her passion lies in supporting individuals in reaching their communication and swallowing goals post stroke or TBI.
  • Barbara Coelho – Laurentian University
  • Veronick Sorenson – University of Ottawa

Grace Margaret Harris Scholarship

  • Gabrielle Rouleau – McGill University

For more information about SAC’s scholarship program, please visit our website.