The Office of the Fairness Commissioner assesses the registration practices of certain regulated professions and trades to make sure they are transparent, objective, impartial and fair for anyone applying to practise his or her profession in Ontario.
The office requires the bodies that regulate the professions and trades to review their own registration processes, submit reports about them and implement the commissioner’s recommendations for improvement.
The prime responsibilities of the office are to:
In addition, the office:
The mandate of the office and the responsibilities of the regulatory bodies are outlined in the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006 and the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, as amended.
The Office of the Fairness Commissioner does not have a mandate to help internationally trained and educated individuals get their professional licences, and it does not assess credentials.
In the late 1980s, the Task Force on Access to the Professions and Trades in Ontario looked into the requirements for entry to Ontario's professions, occupation by occupation. It found that few professions were free of discriminatory practices, and that broad, structural solutions were needed to remove systemic barriers to the professions.
In its 1989 report, the task force wrote that such solutions were "win–win" for the professions and for individuals. It pointed out that, in coming years, the growing number of immigrants would be increasingly important to the health of the economy because of Ontario's declining birth rate and aging workforce.
In 2004, the provincial government commissioned George M. Thomson to review appeal procedures within Ontario's regulated professions. In 2005, he recommended that a fair registration practices code be set out in law.
The following year, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration held discussions with affected professional associations, regulatory bodies, and community groups.
The government introduced the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act (FARPA) later in 2006. For the first time in the history of the regulated professions in Ontario, there would be oversight to ensure that registration practices were transparent, objective, impartial and fair, and that responses to individuals were timely. The bill received all-party support in the legislature and came into effect on March 1, 2007.
In addition, FARPA amended the law about health professions, the Regulated Health Professions Act. The Health Professions Procedural Code requires registration that is "transparent, objective, impartial and fair."
Effective April 8, 2013, FARPA was amended to cover certain compulsory trades and was renamed the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006.
The Office of the Fairness Commissioner opened in April 2007 and maintains a small staff in Toronto.