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Access to the Professions Is Improving: Fairness Commissioner Issues First Annual Report

July 3, 2008

Hon. Jean Augustine, Ontario’s Fairness Commissioner, says that Ontario professions are making progress towards fair registration and licensing. This is the conclusion of her first annual report released this week.

The Office of the Fairness Commissioner opened last year to oversee the registration practices of 35 of Ontario’s self-regulated professions. In her first year, the Commissioner met with the registrars of all the regulatory bodies and studied their existing practices.

“The regulatory bodies are moving towards registration that is transparent, objective, impartial and fair. That’s important, because people deserve fair treatment when applying to a profession, regardless of where they were educated,” she says.

The 2007-2008 Annual Report makes 23 initial observations about registration in the professions and sets the foundation to measure future improvements to access.

“Improved access will give Ontario’s economy a boost,” says Augustine, “as more highly skilled people work at their full potential.”

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For further information and interview requests:
Beatrice Schriever, Office of the Fairness Commissioner, 416 325-9511
beatrice.schriever@ontario.ca

Background Information

Contents of the 2007-2008 Annual Report:

  • messages from the commissioner and executive director
  • an outline of the need for action
  • a summary of the mandate of the office
  • a list of the key organizations with a stake in the office's activities
  • a review of its first year of work
  • initial observations based on studies of 34 of the 35 professions
  • the plan for the way forward in its second year
  • financial statements
  • lists of the regulated professions
  • a table showing membership in Ontario's regulated professions

The 2007-2008 Annual Report features initial observations based on Ontario's Regulated Professions: Report on the 2007 Study of Registration Practices. Highlights of the study:

  • The regulatory bodies vary widely in size, history, staff, and numbers of internationally trained members.
  • Applications to the professions are going up but the number of internationally educated applicants is declining.
  • Some private institutions offer fast track programs that may not meet the requirements of the professions. This raises concerns about their quality and accreditation.
  • Many regulatory bodies base registration decisions on assessments by agencies over which they claim to have little influence. But the regulators are legally required to make sure these third parties have fair practices.
  • Some Canadians go overseas for their professional training and expect to be placed at the head of the queue when they return to Ontario and apply for professional registration.

About the office:

The Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) is an arm's length agency of the Ontario government. Its mandate is to ensure that certain regulated professions have registration and licensing practices that are transparent, objective, impartial and fair.

The first agency of its kind in Canada, it was established in April 2007 under the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act, 2006 link opens new window.

The office oversees the registration practices of 35 self-regulating professions (sometimes called colleges) in Ontario. It requires them to review their practices, submit reports about them and undergo audits to make sure they are meeting their obligations under the law.

The office is independent of the government and the professions and plays no role in advocacy or credential assessment on behalf of individuals.

About the commissioner:

Hon. Jean Augustine, PC, was appointed as the first fairness commissioner in March 2007. Ms. Augustine was born in Grenada and came to Canada in 1960. She attended the University of Toronto, where she earned bachelor of arts and master of education degrees. She was an elementary school principal in Toronto, and chaired the Metro Toronto Housing Authority. She was the first African-Canadian woman to be elected to the House of Commons, serving as Secretary of State and Minister of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women.