Policy/Program Memorandum No. 149

Date of Issue: September 25, 2009

Effective: Until revoked or modified


Application: Directors of Education
Secretary-Treasurers and Supervisory Officers of School Authorities
Superintendents of Schools
Principals of Elementary Schools
Principals of Secondary Schools


The ministry is committed to promoting effective community-based partnerships with external agencies that foster continuous improvement in the delivery of programs and services for all students, including students with special needs. Closing achievement gaps for all students continues to be a major priority.

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide direction to school boards1 concerning the review and/or development of a local protocol for partnerships with external agencies for the provision of services in Ontario schools by regulated health professionals, regulated social service professionals, and paraprofessionals. It outlines the requirements for reviewing and/or developing a local protocol, and specifies the requirements for implementing the protocol and for reporting on the protocol to stakeholders.

Requirements for Review and/or Development of a Board Protocol

School boards with an existing protocol will review their protocol to ensure that it is aligned with the requirements outlined in this memorandum. School boards without an existing protocol will develop a protocol that is aligned with those requirements. The protocol will be designed to support the school board's capacity to provide programs and services to all students, including students with special needs. The protocol will reflect local circumstances, including the language of the board.

The protocol will outline the following:

  • programs and services that are currently delivered by external agencies
  • programs and services that are currently delivered by school board professional student services personnel (PSSP) and paraprofessionals
  • programs and services that could be delivered by school board PSSP and paraprofessionals, but are not being delivered by them for financial reasons or because requirements do not match the job descriptions or qualifications of board PSSP and/or paraprofessionals

A distinction must be made in the protocol between long-term and short-term (time-limited) partnerships to ensure that long-term duplication of services already provided by school board PSSP and paraprofessionals does not occur.

The protocol must be aligned with the collective agreements of unionized school board staff and enhance the delivery of services. The protocol must provide for supplementing, but not duplicating, the services of school board PSSP and paraprofessionals. A protocol will be developed by each school board even if there are currently no unionized  regulated health professionals, regulated social service professionals, and paraprofessionals on staff.

Where applicable, co-terminus and contiguous school boards must, at a minimum, explore the development of partnerships and protocols to facilitate the delivery of programs and services.

Boards must seek the advice of PSSP and paraprofessionals when reviewing and/or developing their protocol. Boards will also design a procedure for reviewing their protocol and projected services in consultation with external agencies and unionized school board staff at least once a year.

Boards will also ensure that their protocol is consistent with standard school board provisions related to:

  • informed consent;
  • criminal reference checks;
  • appropriate insurance coverage;
  • compliance with the Safe Schools Act;
  • conflict of interest, confidentiality, equity, human rights, and other relevant policies.

Eligible Categories of Professionals and Paraprofessionals

A board's protocol will cover the following categories of PSSP and paraprofessionals:

  • audiologists, as defined by the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Act, 1991
  • speech-language pathologists, as defined by the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Act, 1991
  • occupational therapists, as defined by the Occupational Therapy Act, 1991
  • physiotherapists, as defined by the Physiotherapy Act, 1991
  • psychologists, as defined by the Psychology Act, 1991
  • psychological associates, as defined by the Psychology Act, 1991
  • social workers, as defined by the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998
  • other regulated professionals and/or paraprofessionals who are deemed by the school board to be essential for the delivery of programs and services for students with special needs

Any future regulated categories will also be covered by the protocol.

Additional Requirements for the Board Protocol

In order to assist school boards and external agencies in the development, review, and maintenance of local protocols, a memorandum from the Deputy Minister of Education accompanies this policy/ program memorandum and outlines the elements that each protocol must contain. Any changes to the elements required in the local protocols will be communicated in the future to boards through a similar memorandum.

Implementation and Reporting

School boards will implement their newly developed or reviewed protocol and post it on their website by January 1, 2010. Reviews of and revisions to established protocols will be completed and posted on school board websites by January 1 of each subsequent year.

1. In this memorandum, school board(s) and board(s) refer to district school boards and school authorities, with the exception of section 68 school authorities.