President’s Report to the OHA Annual General Meeting
As usual, one of the most important things I do at the AGM is to thank my fellow board members for all their hard work. It is difficult to find time in busy schedules to dedicate to the various projects and day-to-day tasks which need to be done in an association such as ours. I am very grateful that I have a board willing to take the time to understand the complex issues we face, and keep the OHA moving forwards in a positive and dynamic way.
A special thanks to Joanne Watson who has been taking on more administrative work this year in addition to her duties as the OHA treasurer and Secretary. There seems to be an increasing stream of paperwork and electronic communications required to keep an organization running smoothly.
Other volunteers who have continued to provide their time and energy include Jennifer Pottruff picking up OHA emails, and Christina Lamont answering phone messages. They have been so reliable that they are rapidly becoming indispensable. My sincere thanks for all their work behind the scenes.
Our media representative remains Kathleen Leeson. Kathleen continues to cover all of Ontario in this capacity. Although it is not presently an onerous position, it is so important to have such an experienced herbalist as the immediate voice of the OHA.
Correne Omland still updates our Face book fan page, and we have another volunteer, Michelle Stevenson, willing to help out and act as a backup for her in the coming year. Correne has managed to get us up over 200 fans, and I would certainly like to see some OHA resources being put into helping interest in the Facebook page grow this year.
It is encouraging that we have an increasing number of people, both members and non-members, offering to volunteer their time and energy for the OHA.
There have been few political initiatives directly affecting herbalists this year, although many hours have gone into monitoring potential issues. However, some groups are beginning to work towards regulation. The OHA continues to attend meetings and review information to ensure that herbalists are included in discussions and are not negatively affected in any way.
Both the CCHA and the OHA continue to monitor legislative changes at the federal level, together with moves by Health Canada to enforce existing legislation regarding natural health products.
There has been no further progress by Toronto Licensing and Standards to remove the holistic licensing currently required to practice in Toronto, as discussed last year. We will keep you informed if and when this changes. However, it should be mentioned that Cambridge recently implemented a licensing scheme, and it is anticipated that many large communities may copy this. Members are advised to check with their municipality.
Canadian Council of Herbalists Associations
The CCHA continues to provide Canada-wide representation of herbal associations to the federal government. They attend annual meetings with Health Canada, which ensures our visibility at a federal level and helps the representatives from Health Canada better understand herbalism.
The CCHA has also started to produce draft documents in an attempt to create Canada-wide standards for herbalists. This is still very much in the early stages, but the OHA remains very active in this area.
We are still looking for professional herbalists willing to take on the role of OHA representatives to the CCHA. Michael Vertolli has continued to liaise with the CCHA, but is increasingly unable to give it the time required. If you feel that you would like to contribute in this vital area, please let us know.
Professional Members Committee
Once more the PMC has contributed an enormous amount to the OHA. Monika Ghent chairs the meetings and stops us wandering from the topic, while Susan Elliotson manages to produce coherent minutes (something of a miracle). My thanks to both of them for their commitment.
The radio advertisement created last year finally reached the airways in February, being played numerous times over a twelve week period. The area covered by the station included Hamilton, Cambridge, St. Catherine’s and Stratford, and the PMC will look at other areas for subsequent advertising. We do not expect dramatic results, but hope that we can increase the public awareness of herbalists in general, and specifically promote our professional members.
The image update approved last year is well under way. A new logo design has been approved by the board, and the web site is under construction. The work so far is still invisible, but we are getting close to making some significant changes. I think the membership will be very pleased by the results.
Other work completed by the PMC includes creating a way to assess Ayurvedic programs, the introduction of a Adverse and Unusual Events Reporting system, and updating the profession application form to make them easier to process. In addition, the PMC is responsible for reviewing many of the professional applications, so the committee has been busy all year. There never seems to be a lack of projects, so I anticipate another busy year to come.
Events offered by the OHA this year have included “Growing Your Business”, which provided an remarkable amount of useful information. The event was poorly attended, but participants took home a lot of ideas and resource information.
Other events scheduled for 2012 include “Caring for the Elderly” in October. This topic should be of vital interest to a lot of people, and the seminar is aimed at both practitioners and the general public. We will also be offering a repeat of the “Hands-On Clinical Testing” seminar from two years ago.
The events for 2013 are currently under discussion, and we welcome any suggestions from members.
We held our annual professional and student member barbecue again this year. The weather was perfect, the food fabulous, and the number of members attending increased this year. As a result, a good time was had by all. Our thanks to Rick DeSylva for hosting this event once more.
We attended the two day Guelph organic conference this year, and had a literature presence at one of the Toronto Seedy Saturday events. While we no longer find events profitable in sales or memberships, the OHA table usually generates considerable interest, and helps improve our profile for the general public.
Administration is an ongoing and difficult task, requiring a lot of hours. As I mentioned before, much of this work has been ably undertaken by Joanne Watson, and I can’t thank her enough for all the effort she makes to ensure the OHA is run in a businesslike and efficient manner.
I am also delighted that we are managing to get Newsletters out to the membership on a fairly regular basis, again mostly hard work on Joanne’s part. It has always been our goal to ensure regular communications. There have been a few hiccups, but the process is becoming easier and members can look forward to receiving regular updates in the future. In addition to OHA news, we are happy to include any member events and notices in the Newsletters, so let us know in advance if you have anything you wish to publicize. I would also like to remind members to ensure that your junk mail controls are not deleting our communications.
I will leave this report to Joanne Watson, but the OHA continues to be on a sound footing financially. The ground work has been done, and the focus for the coming year will be on increasing membership and growing the organization.
Finally, the OHA board remains committed to openness. The minutes of all meetings are posted on the web site for members to read, and you are encouraged to comment on anything which concerns you, or ideas for the future.
President, Ontario Herbalists Association