Ontario and other Canadian provinces chose many decades ago to proceed in a different direction. In return for the privilege of allowing professions to regulate themselves rather than government doing it for them, professionals are empowered to establish regulatory "Colleges" with the powers to register qualified individuals, renew their licenses, establish practice standards and codes of conduct, adjudicate complaints from the public and impose disciplinary measures, where warranted.
To facilitate such self-regulation, professionals are allowed to elect and appoint members of the professions to actually sit on their College governing Councils and Committees.
Unlike the case with professional advocacy associations, the government also appoints a certain number of public representatives to each College Council.
Professions, therefore, have the ability to have a direct influence on all the major decision-making of a College. Instead of being on the outside, powerless to shape or lead regulation, professionals are at the table. They can regulate themselves, but they have to do so in the public interest. In other words, the legislation empowers them to ensure that they have the regulations, by-laws, practice standards, and processes in place to be able to assure the public that they are receiving care from qualified practitioners. As well, Colleges have the right to ensure that only registrants are using professional titles such as "speech-language pathologist", "speech therapist" or "audiologist". Colleges can also take legal action against unauthorized or fraudulent practitioners.
Another aspect of the self-regulatory social contract involving professionals, the public and the government is that Colleges must be self-sustaining.
Colleges do not receive any government funding and so must be funded entirely through College application and registration fees.
All Colleges, regardless of the number of registrants (e.g. 600 Chiropodists or 150,000 nurses, or 4,000 audiologists and speech-language pathologists) must be able to register individuals initially, approve their licensing each year following quality assurance assessments and address any complaints.
For self-regulation to work, registrants must be made aware on an ongoing basis of what is expected of them regarding regulations, practice standards and codes of conduct.
This is why the College provides to members:
- practice advice;
- membership forums and e-Forums;
- group e-mails;
- videos and brochures;
- user-friendly website.
The College also ensures that in complaint situations, members are informed of their rights and are treated fairly throughout the investigative processes. The College must be objective and fair in all its interactions with registrants and with members of the public.
Similarly, members of the College Council must be objective and fair. Whether elected or appointed, they cannot come to the table to safeguard any professional interest. They must act only in, and for, the public interest. Professional members can and should provide their "perspectives" on issues from their experiences and backgrounds, but they cannot advocate for a particular self or professional interest. Otherwise, the social contract breaks down and the public interest is not served.
So, how does the public know that the College is there to serve them or what decisions a College is making? That is why in addition to providing licensing, educational and advisory services to members, Colleges must also ensure that the public is aware of a College's functions and its role in public interest protection.
Recently, the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, patient advocacy groups and the media have been strongly challenging Colleges to be more transparent and accountable about their work and to enhance public awareness about what they do and who they serve.
All of CASLPO's staff and Council members support our dedication to be more transparent and accountable. You will see evidence of this commitment throughout this Annual Report. We report on aspects of our three main Strategic Planning Goals:
- Increase the Public's Awareness of the College and It's Members
- Enhance the Members Quality of Practice
- Increase Transparency, Effectiveness and Efficiency
College staff are implementing all the initiatives that support the 2015-2018 Strategic Plan goals. With respect to Public Awareness, please see the section in this report on 'Advancing Public Protection Through Enhanced Public Awareness Initiatives'. It is important to note that, these efforts are fundamental to addressing the Ministry's heightened focus on patient engagement and transparency in support of public protection.
ABOUT THE COLLEGE
Self-Regulation: How it Works
The College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario (CASLPO), mandated under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA), regulates in the public interest audiologists, speech-language pathologists and speech therapists. Regulated professionals providing care abide by a code of ethics and high standards of practice.
To provide public protection for patients/clients, the College establishes and enforces professional standards for:
Sets rigorous education requirements and works with universities to ensure programs cover the core competencies. Issues certificates of registration to audiologists and speech-language pathologists to allow them to practice.
Develops and enforces standards of practice which all audiologists and speech-language pathologists follow.
Requires audiologists and speech-language pathologists to further their knowledge and skills on a regular basis.
Responds to complaints from the public concerning care provided by members of the College.
Having reached the half-way mark of the College's strategic plan, this report outlines progress made in all areas, including advancing public awareness and public protection. I encourage you to read all of the Committee reports to enable you to have a better sense of the progress we have made and a better appreciation of the "big picture" of selfregulation in and for the public interest.
As we continue on this roadmap to success, I want to thank Council members, non-Council professional committee members, staff, practice advisors, consultants, mentors, peer assessors, external legal Counsel (Steinecke Maciura Leblanc, Stockwoods, Weir and Foulds and Mills and Mills) and other vendors. Their commitment to the College and professional regulation is deeply appreciated.