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Introduction

In June 2014, Ontario’s Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) performed a targeted assessment of the way the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors (AOLS) 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 June 2014 targeted assessment of the AOLS focused on the areas where the OFC made recommendations in the full assessment it completed in January 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 AOLS 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 January 2012, the AOLS 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 AOLS has demonstrated some of the practices in the following specific-duty area(s):

  • Information for Applicants
  • Assessment of Qualifications

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 AOLS 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 January 2012, the AOLS has been assessed on the principle(s) marked below:

None Unchecked
Transparency Checked
Objectivity Checked
Impartiality Checked
Fairness Checked

Comments

The OFC found that since the last assessment, the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors (AOLS) has taken a number of measures to promote transparency, impartiality, objectivity and fairness. 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 AOLS is demonstrating commendable practices in the following area(s).

Assessment of Qualifications

  • developing clearly described competencies to ensure that both academic and articling requirements are directly linked to the scope of practice for land surveyors
  • amending registration regulations to reflect acceptable alternatives for meeting academic and articling requirements
  • using feedback from articling students to improve the articling process. The AOLS has eliminated quarterly work reports and the field note assignment in favour of a competency-based approach to articling, where student tasks and assignments are focused on individual learning needs.
  • taking a proactive approach to reviewing exam results before communicating them to applicants. Two separate assessors mark the same question for all exam candidates. In cases where the two marks differ by more than 20%, the question is assigned to two new assessors to be marked again, for greater objectivity.

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Recommendations

The AOLS should improve in the following areas.

Information for Applicants

Status
  • On the AOLS website, provide clearer step-by-step instructions for guiding applicants through the registration process, or advise them to contact the appropriate staff person for more information. (Practice 1.2) †
Checked
November 2015

Assessment of Qualifications

 
  • Develop written guidelines to help assessors complete an academic evaluation and make recommendations about gaps. These guidelines should ensure a consistent approach to considering experience and knowledge obtained outside a formal academic program. (Practice 6.3)
 
  • Develop written guidelines to help members of the Academic and Experience Requirements Committee make consistent and objective decisions about applications for reductions in the length of articling. (Practice 6.3)
 
  • Develop a work plan and timeline for:
 
  • completing implementation of all changes to academic evaluation, articling and exams
Checked
March 2015
  • reviewing the new suite of assessment methods for objectivity, validity and reliability (Practice 6.5) †
 
  • Expand the AOLS website information about qualifications assessment to include:
 
  • information about opportunities for appeal, and how to make an appeal
 
  • information about accommodation of special needs, and how to request accommodation (Practice 6.8) †
 
  • Determine and implement an appropriate accountability measure for third-party assessment agencies. For example, develop a memorandum of understanding or establish regular meetings with third parties to ensure that their assessments are transparent, objective, impartial and fair. (Practice 6.10)
Checked
June 2015

Training

 
  • Assess learning needs in the context of recent changes to the AOLS’s assessment methodology, and develop a training plan for everyone involved in assessing qualifications and making registration decisions. (Practice 7.1) †
 
  • Complete training modules or manuals for providing more specific guidance to relevant decision-makers on assessing qualifications and making registration decisions for internationally educated applicants. (Practice 7.2)
Not Applicable

Transparency

 
On the AOLS website:  
  • Identify steps in the registration process that an internationally educated applicant could take before arriving in Canada. †
 
  • Describe third-party fees that internationally educated applicants may incur, such as fees for translation and academic evaluation.
 
  • Provide guidance to applicants about how to prepare for the competency interview that is part of the academic evaluation process.
  • Explain why references are required. Describe the criteria used to assess "good character."
  • Clarify that applicants can apply for their term of articles to be reduced or waived. Describe the conditions that must be met for a full waiver of articles.
  • Provide information about how to appeal a decision to deny registration. †
  • Provide policy information related to all aspects of applicants’ access to records. Include information about how to request access to records, and timelines for the granting of a request. †
Checked
December 2015
  • Provide policy information about document retention. Inform applicants about any opportunities to request the return of original documents. (For example, applicants might need transcripts or translated course descriptions to apply for further academic study). †
Checked
December 2015

Objectivity

 
  • Develop a more structured approach to the competency interview that is part of the academic evaluation process, to ensure consistent and objective decision-making.
Not Applicable

Impartiality

 
  • Identify training opportunities for staff and committee members related to the objectives of the fair-access legislation. †
 
Checked
September 2015

Fairness

 
  • Explore acceptable alternatives for meeting the competencies associated with the party chief component of articling, which must normally be completed in Canada. Implement alternatives or provide a clear rationale for why this is the only possible way to determine competency to practise the profession in Ontario. †
Checked
December 2015
  • Develop and communicate a policy on accommodation of special needs, with attention to the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. †
Checked
December 2015

† 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 21 recommendations for this regulatory body.

Thirteen of those recommendations have been implemented. The rest are carried forward into this report, with modifications to reflect subsequent changes in the AOL’s assessment approach. Where an element of a past recommendation has been carried forward, this is indicated with a dagger symbol.

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