Office of the Fairness Commissioner

Established by provincial legislation (Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act, 2006), the Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) assesses the registration practices of 40 regulated professions to make sure that they are transparent, objective, impartial, and fair for anyone applying to practise his or her profession in Ontario. The OFC requires the bodies that regulate the professions to review their own registration processes, submit reports about them, and undergo compliance audits. With these audits, the office ensures that the regulatory bodies are meeting their legislated obligations.

The responsibilities of the office are to:

  • Provide advice to the regulated professions about registration and other issues;
  • Set out guidelines for the content and form of the regulatory bodies’ yearly reports to the office;
  • Specify the scope and standards for audits;
  • Receive audits;
  • Assess registration practices;
  • Issue compliance orders to the non-health professions, if necessary;
  • Report to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care about a health profession’s non-compliance, if necessary;
  • Advise other government ministries about issues relating to the registration practices of the regulated professions in their jurisdiction; and
  • Report to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration about the office’s work.

Accessibility

The OFC provides numerous sources of information and tools to its stakeholders that are readily accessible on its website. These include over 40 publications, including Newsletters, Brochures, Guidelines, Reports, Research Reports, and Studies of Registration Practices. The Commissioner and OFC staff routinely meets with stakeholders throughout Ontario to discuss the OFC’s work. Recently, this outreach has expanded outside Ontario, as the Commissioner and staff have been invited to share their experience and expertise with other jurisdictions.

The OFC has listened to applicants themselves—both domestically and internationally trained—by commissioning a study of 3,700 applicants and their experiences in the licensing process. As a result, the Fairness Commissioner made 17 specific recommendations to improve the way people get their licences in the regulated professions. The OFC itself is expanding to cover regulated trades in Ontario. Starting in 2012, the office will oversee registration practices of the new Ontario College of Trades.

Newcomer Involvement

To ensure that the registration practices of regulated professions are transparent, objective, impartial, and fair, the OFC engages regulatory bodies in a variety of ways, including self-review of registration processes, submission of reports about these practices, and undergoing compliance audits. The Continuous Improvement Strategy builds on the OFC’s previous research and activities, which have given the OFC a solid understanding of the challenges facing applicants and the realities of Ontario’s licensing processes.

Stakeholder Collaboration

Collaboration with related government departments, regulatory bodies, qualifications assessment agencies, and professional associations is part of the OFC’s legislated responsibilities. The OFC routinely consults with stakeholders formally and informally. For example, the OFC published a guide so that regulatory bodies can reconsider the substance of the requirements to get into their professions. The OFC also provides expert advice on licensing to new regulatory bodies. It also found common ground with regulatory bodies and qualification assessment agencies on the criteria for assessments of registration practices, as the foundation for continuous improvement.

Accountability

As the first legislated body of its kind in Canada, Ontario’s OFC has drawn interest from across the country. For example, Manitoba, Quebec, and Nova Scotia followed suit by passing similar legislation. Representatives from other countries, including Denmark, Australia, and New York State, have also been in contact with the OFC as they look to create similar agencies. The OFC itself is expanding to cover regulated trades in Ontario. Starting in 2012, the office will oversee registration practices of the new Ontario College of Trades.

Positive Outcome

The OFC has guided continual progress, resulting in practical, real-life improvements to licensing processes in a variety of professional fields, creating positive, systemic results for internationally trained professionals in Ontario. The changes rectified unnecessary hurdles for applicants through streamlined processes, better communication, and/or improved support. For example, internationally trained lawyers do not have to do compulsory articling anymore. The regulatory body for dentistry has streamlined its assessment of general dentists who were trained elsewhere. The regulatory body for medical radiation technologists re-evaluated its language requirements to make sure that they actually correspond to the language level one needs to do the work.

The OFC also encouraged programs that help internationally trained professionals bridge the gap between the education and experience they already have and what is needed to get licensed in Ontario. The OFC championed the case for financial support for internationally trained professionals requiring further education, and for bursaries for bridging programs. The OFC listened to the applicants themselves—both domestically and internationally trained—by commissioning a study of their experiences in the licensing process. It also published a guide so that regulatory bodies can reconsider the substance of the requirements to get into their professions.

Transferability

As the first legislated body of its kind in Canada, Ontario’s Office of the Fairness Commissioner has drawn interest from across the country. For example, Manitoba, Quebec, and Nova Scotia followed suit by passing similar legislation. Representatives from other countries, including Denmark, Australia, and New York State, have also been in contact with the OFC as they look to create similar agencies. The OFC itself is expanding to cover regulated trades in Ontario. Starting in 2012, the office will oversee registration practices of the new Ontario College of Trades.

Background

Service Providers
Government of Ontario
Funders
Government of Ontario
Scope
Provincial/Territorial
Locations
Across Ontario
Year of Launch
April 2007
Languages of Delivery
English and French
Newcomer Groups Served
Professional regulatory bodies
Expected Results
Policy and Program Development (to ensure effective delivery and achieve comparable settlement outcomes across Canada)
Labour Market Access (Newcomers obtain the required assistance to find employment commensurate with their skills and education)
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