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Introduction

In October 2013, Ontario’s Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) performed a targeted assessment of the way the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO) 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 October 2013 targeted assessment of the CVO focused on the areas where the OFC made recommendations in the full assessment it completed in May 2012.

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 CVO 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 May 2012, the CVO 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 CVO 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 CVO 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 Unchecked
b. Regulatory body self-assesses based on the practices in the assessment guide Checked
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 May 2012, the CVO has been assessed on the principle(s) marked below:

None Unchecked
Transparency Checked
Objectivity Unchecked
Impartiality Checked
Fairness Unchecked

Comments

The OFC found that since the last assessment, the CVO has taken active measures to ensure transparency and impartiality. 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 CVO is demonstrating commendable practices in the following area(s).

Information for Applicants

  • providing the following on the CVO website:
    • detailed information about registration timelines, in an easy-to-read table format 
    • comprehensive and up-to-date information about the fees of external qualifications-assessment organizations, and links to their websites. Information about fees is clearly linked to registration requirements and steps.

Assessment of Qualifications

  • communicating the results for the local knowledge exam on the same day that applicants take the exam

Training

  • leading fair-access training for the regulatory community and other interested stakeholders, through the Ontario Regulators for Access Consortium and conference presentations

Transparency

  • assigning a review date to all CVO council policies when they are approved. The policy review cycle ensures that policies remain current.
  • reviewing applicant experiences with the registration process every year. This helps shape revisions to registration materials.
  • including the following in registration-committee packages:
    • a standardized case cover sheet for each case that states the issue and background, provides policy and precedent considerations, and outlines decision options
    • a copy of each policy relevant to the cases under consideration
  • contacting applicants immediately after registration-committee meetings, to tell them the decision about their case
  • using the CVO’s application checklist to:
    • specify acceptable alternate documentation that an applicant may submit
    • inform applicants that both original documents and certified copies may be returned upon request

Impartiality

  • including on the agenda for each registration-committee meeting two standing items that contribute to impartiality:
    • The Continuing Committee Development item helps ensure that committee members regularly identify learning needs and opportunities related to their decision-making role. It also fosters regular discussion of issues and trends in relation to the objectives of FARPACTA.
    • The Conflict of Interest/Appearance of Bias item reminds committee members to declare any conflicts they may have that may interfere with impartial decision-making.
  • adopting a structured process for evaluating the registration committee, with a focus on continuous improvement 
  • including a section on risk within the CVO’s Policy Briefing Notes. This helps to ensure that decision-makers consider risks associated with the potential for bias or the appearance of bias when they are implementing policy.

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Recommendations

The CVO should improve in the following areas.

Information for Applicants

Status
  • Clearly communicate all registration requirements and ways to meet them. (Practice 1.1) 
Checked
January 2014
  • Clearly present registration steps from an applicant’s perspective. (Practice 1.2)
Checked
January 2014 

Assessment of Qualifications

 
  • Complete the development and implementation of a new jurisprudence exam. Ensure that this exam adheres to all specific-duty practices related to the assessment of qualifications. (Practice 6.5) †
Checked
May 2015 
  • Develop a strategic work plan, with clearly defined outcomes and timelines, for better holding the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) accountable for ensuring that its exams are transparent, objective, impartial and fair. Continue discussions with the CVMA about the examination process and the high failure rates for the Clinical Practical Exam. (Practice 6.10)
Checked
August 2017 

Transparency

 
  • Make the CVO website more user-friendly.
 Checked
August 2014
  • On the website, add more information about:
 
  • steps in the registration process that an applicant can do or start outside of Canada
 Checked
January 2014
  • the process and timelines for applications that are referred to the registration committee
 Checked
January 2014
  • registration-related policies
 Checked
January 2014
  • when and how applicants can request exemption from licensing requirements
Checked
January 2014 
  • how to submit a Letter of Request for Review to the registration committee
Checked
September 2014 
  • the CVMA’s newly instituted mentoring list, as a resource for applicants who want to connect with licensed veterinarians in Ontario
Checked
Fall 2013 
  • Complete a review of the CVO document retention policy. Post updated information to the CVO website.
Checked
September 2014 
  • Finalize and post a policy related to the “good character” requirement. 
Checked
May 2014 

Impartiality

 
  • Ensure that the registration committee considers risk as part of their decision-making on individual cases.
Checked
April 2014 

† Recommendations marked with a dagger symbol have been carried forward all or in part from the previous assessment.

 
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 11 recommendations for this regulatory body.

Ten of those recommendations have been implemented. For the eleventh, implementation has begun but is not yet complete. This recommendation has been carried forward into this report.

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