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Introduction

In September 2013, Ontario’s Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) performed a targeted assessment of the way the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) registers people who apply for a licence to practise in Ontario, to ensure that the registration practices are fair and continue to improve.

Assessment is one of the Fairness Commissioner's mandated roles under the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act (FARPACTA).

Assessment Cycle

To hold regulatory bodies accountable for continuous improvement, the OFC assesses their licensing practices using a two-year assessment cycle.

Assessment cycles alternate between full assessments and targeted assessments:

  • Full assessments address all specific and general duties described in FARPACTA.
  • Targeted assessments focus on the areas where the OFC made recommendations in the previous full assessment.

This approach establishes continuity between the assessment cycles.

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Focus of This Assessment and Report

The September 2013 targeted assessment of the OAA focused on the areas where the OFC made recommendations in the full assessment it completed in November 2011.

The OFC’s detailed report captures the results of the targeted assessment. The assessment summary provides the following key information from the detailed report:

  • duties that were assessed
  • an overview of assessment outcomes for specific-duty practices
  • an overview of comments related to the general duty
  • commendable practices
  • recommendations

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Availability of Report

The OFC encourages the OAA to provide the detailed report to its staff, council members, the public, and other interested parties.

To receive a copy of the detailed report, click here.

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Assessment Methods

Assessments are based on the Registration Practices Assessment Guide – For Regulated Professions and Trades. The guide presents registration practices relating to the specific duties and general duty in FARPACTA.

A regulatory body’s practices can be measured against FARPACTA’s specific duties in a straightforward way. However, the general duty is broad, and the principles it mentions (transparency, objectivity, impartiality and fairness) are not defined in the legislation.

As a result, the specific-duty and general-duty obligations are assessed differently (see the Strategy for Continuous Improvement of Registration Practices).

Specific Duties

The OFC can clearly determine whether a regulatory body demonstrates the specific-duty practices in the assessment guide. Therefore, for each specific-duty practice, the OFC provides one of the following assessment outcomes:

  • Demonstrated – all required elements of the practice are present or addressed
  • Partially Demonstrated – some but not all required elements are present or addressed
  • Not Demonstrated – none of the required elements are present or addressed
  • Not Applicable – this practice does not apply to this regulatory body

General Duty

Because there are many ways that a regulatory body can demonstrate that its practices, overall, are meeting the principles of the general duty, the OFC makes assessment comments for the general duty, rather than identifying assessment outcomes. For the same reason, assessment comments are made by principle, rather than by practice.

For information about the OFC’s interpretations of the general-duty principles and the practices that the OFC uses as a guideline for assessment, see the Registration Practices Assessment Guide – For Regulated Professions and Trades.

Commendable Practices and Recommendations

Where applicable, the OFC identifies commendable practices or recommendations for improvement related to the specific duties and general duty.

Sources

Assessment outcomes, comments, and commendable practices and recommendations are based on information provided by the regulatory body. The OFC relies on the accuracy of this information to produce the assessment report. The OFC compiles registration information from sources such as the following:

  • Fair Registration Practices Reports, audits, Entry-to-Practice Review Reports, annual meetings
  • the regulatory body’s:
    • website
    • policies, procedures, guidelines and related documentation templates for communication with applicants
    • regulations and bylaws
    • internal auditing and reporting mechanisms
    • third-party agreements and related monitoring or reporting documentation
    • qualifications assessments and related documentation
  • targeted questions/requests for evidence that the regulatory body demonstrates a practice or principle

For more information  about the assessment cycle, assessment process, and legislative obligations, see the Strategy for Continuous Improvement of Registration Practices.

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Assessment Summary

Specific Duties

Specific duties assessed

As a result of the recommendations made in the full assessment completed in November 2011, the OAA has been assessed in the area(s) marked below:

None Unchecked
Information for Applicants Checked
Timely Decisions, Responses and Reasons Unchecked
Internal Review or Appeal Unchecked
Information on Appeal Rights Unchecked
Documentation of Qualifications Unchecked
Assessment of Qualifications Checked
Training Checked
Access to Records Unchecked

Outcomes

The OAA has demonstrated all of the practices in the following specific-duty area(s):

  • Training

For practices that are partially demonstrated or not demonstrated, see the Recommendations section later in this summary.

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General Duty

Assessment Method

The OAA selected the method marked below for the assessing of its adherence to the general-duty principles, and informed the OFC:

a. OFC assesses based on the practices listed in the assessment guide Checked
b. Regulatory body self-assesses based on the practices in the assessment guide Unchecked
c. Regulatory body self-assesses using a system-based approach, in which it explains what it does to ensure that its practices are adhering to the general-duty principles Unchecked

Principles assessed

As a result of the recommendations made in the full assessment completed in November 2011, the OAA has been assessed on the principle(s) marked below:

None Unchecked
Transparency Checked
Objectivity Checked
Impartiality Checked
Fairness Unchecked

Comments

The OFC found that since the last assessment, the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) has taken measures to ensure a transparent, objective and impartial registration process. The OFC identified two areas where the OAA needs to take further steps to ensure transparency (see the Recommendations section below).

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Commendable Practices

A commendable practice is a program, activity or strategy that goes beyond the minimum standards set by the OFC assessment guides, considering the regulatory body’s resources and profession-specific or trade-specific context. Commendable practices may or may not have potential for transferability to another regulatory body.

The OAA is demonstrating commendable practices in the following area(s).

Assessment of Qualifications

  • launching the Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect (BEFA) program, which offers a streamlined registration pathway for qualified internationally trained architects. It assesses an applicant’s work experience and competencies against Canada-wide standards of competency for practice in Canada.
  • allowing its applicants to choose between the Internship in Architecture Program (IAP) and a series of assessments conducted under the BEFA program. This choice enables applicants to choose the registration pathway that meets their specific circumstances. The IAP and the BEFA program have different costs, expectations and timelines. Applicants who successfully complete the BEFA program are exempt from most of the OAA’s registration requirements.

Transparency

  • updating and expanding its information resources for applicants. Changes include the following:
    • updating the Internship in Architecture Program Manual to provide clearer and more current information about the OAA’s experience requirement
    • updating the Licensing Procedures booklet
    • creating a document (Appendix B, a provincial supplement to the Internship in Architecture Program Manual) that details the registration requirements specific to Ontario
    • updating the OAA website section for internationally trained applicants
  • These improved/new resources provide clearer and more current information about the registration requirements.

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Recommendations

The OAA can improve in the following areas.

Information for Applicants

Status
  • Organize information about registration timelines in a more structured way on the OAA website, so it is easier to estimate how long the registration process usually takes. (Practice 1.3)
Checked
September 2015

Assessment of Qualifications

 
  • Identify and implement measures to ensure that the criteria used in the experience-requirement interview are clear (that is, criteria are written in plain language, are easy to understand, and are easy to apply). (Practice 6.1)
 
  • Update guidelines for the members of the experience-requirement committee, to ensure that the guidelines include complete information on how to interpret criteria and how to assess evidence. (Practice 6.1)
 
  • Identify and implement measures to ensure that all assessments conducted by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board are transparent, objective, impartial and fair. (Practice 6.10)
 

Transparency

 
  • Identify and implement measures to determine whether the OAA’s communication with applicants (including the OAA’s communication materials, written correspondence, and written registration decisions and the reasons for them) is effective.
Checked
September 2015
  • If this review identifies any trends or a need for remedial actions, take steps to implement appropriate actions.
Checked
September 2015
Blank = Implementation is in progress.
Checked = Recommendation is implemented.
Acceptable alternative = Regulator implements acceptable alternative to this recommendation.

Assessment History

In the previous assessment, the OFC identified 10 recommendations for this regulatory body.

They have all been implemented.

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