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Introduction

In September 2014, Ontario’s Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) performed a targeted assessment of the way the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario (APGO) 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 2014 targeted assessment of APGO 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 comments related to the general duty
  • commendable practices
  • recommendations

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Availability of Report

The OFC encourages APGO 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, APGO has been assessed in the area(s) marked below:

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

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General Duty

Assessment Method

APGO 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, APGO has been assessed on the principle(s) marked below:

None Unchecked
Transparency Checked
Objectivity Unchecked
Impartiality Unchecked
Fairness Unchecked

Comments

The OFC found that since the last assessment, APGO has taken steps to improve transparency. Recommendations for further improvement are listed 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 OFC has not identified new commendable practices in the area reviewed, for this assessment period.

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Recommendations

The APGO should improve in the following areas.

Transparency

Status
  • Continue working with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines to update APGO’s registration regulation. Provide the OFC with an opportunity to review and comment on a draft of the amending regulation before it is finalized.
 
  • In registration materials, provide more detailed information about APGO’s interpretation of the registration requirements set out in APGO’s registration regulation. In particular:
 
  • Clarify the distinction between the various options set out in the registration regulation by which applicants may satisfy the academic requirement to become licensed in Ontario. In this context, clearly explain the approach used for assessing the academic qualifications of applicants with 10 years or more of qualifying work experience. 
 
  • Clarify what is meant by work experience that is “equivalent” to experience acquired in Canada. Provide the criteria for determining such equivalence.
 
  • Clearly state the currency requirements for work experience, by specifying the time frame within which work experience must be obtained by regular applicants and experienced-practitioner applicants.
 
  • Clarify what types of exams may be included in the requirement for “any examination required by the registration committee.”
 
  • Develop a work plan for documenting internal policies and procedures. Identify the policies and procedures to be documented, and timelines for completion of each. As documentation proceeds, inform decision-makers promptly of all resulting changes to policy or procedure.
 
  • Research best practices with regards to acceptable alternative documentation of academic qualifications. Document APGO policy for decision-makers and provide additional information for applicants about what types of alternative documentation may be acceptable in cases where applicants cannot secure official academic transcripts.
 
  • Document policy for decision-makers, and provide additional information for applicants, about what types of “previous Professional Practice and Ethics examinations or requirements” may be considered for equivalency by the registration committee.
 
  • Provide clearer and more detailed instructions to applicants about what information to include in their Work Experience Record.
 
  • Provide information about the assessment criteria used in work experience interviews, and provide instructions to help applicants prepare for work experience interviews.
 
  • Provide clear and easy-to-find information about how applicants can access their records. 
 
  • Provide additional information to help applicants estimate the total time and cost involved in the registration process.
 
  • Update the career map for internationally educated geoscientists, and clearly identify steps in the registration process that applicants can complete before arriving in Canada.
Checked
September 2014
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 three recommendations for this regulatory body.

All of these recommendations have been implemented.

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