Major changes are on the horizon for Ontario’s regulated health professions. In the months ahead, the province’s health regulatory Colleges will be implementing measures to increase transparency and to make more information about health care professionals available to the public.
The information that may soon be posted on health regulatory Colleges’ public registers includes:
- Criminal findings of guilt
- Criminal charges
- Bail conditions
- Professional licenses held in other jurisdictions
- Discipline findings in other jurisdictions
- Cautions issued by the College’s Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (“ICRC”)
- Specified Continuing Education or Remediation Programs (“SCERPs”) ordered by the ICRC
While some information, such as criminal findings of guilt and licences in other jurisdictions, are technically already publicly available and will simply be made more accessible by being listed on the public register, other information, such as cautions and SCERPs, will be new additions that will significantly impact the privacy of, and fairness to, health care professionals.
This push to make more information publicly available was driven in large part by a letter sent by Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care in October 2014 to all health profession College Councils and Transitional Councils (collectively, the “Colleges”) asking them to make transparency a priority objective and to take concrete steps to increase transparency in College processes, decision-making, and information disclosure. The Minister requested that each College begin sharing more detailed, timely, accurate, and clear information with the public as soon as possible, and report to the Minister by December 1, 2014 regarding the specific steps that the College plans to take to strengthen existing measures, and to develop and implement new measures, to enhance transparency.
All Colleges and transitional Councils have submitted a transparency report to the Ministry, and the reports are available on each College’s website. The reports vary in length and detail, but each College has committed to making transparency a priority objective and to taking steps to enhance transparency during 2015. That is, if they haven’t already done so. Several Colleges are currently circulating or have already passed by-law amendments which would allow more information about their members to be made available to the public. For example, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario has passed a by-law amendment, which will require oral cautions and SCERPs made after October 1, 2015 to be posted on the public register.
As the Colleges begin to propose changes in the coming year, there will no doubt be considerable debate surrounding what types of information should or shouldn’t be made available to the public and the reasons for doing so. In this push for transparency, however, one thing is certain: the public will have access to more information about health care professionals than has ever previously been available and this will fundamentally alter the landscape of the regulation of health care professionals in Ontario. We will update you on our blog as the Colleges take concrete steps to make more information about practicing health care professionals publicly available.
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