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Registration Practices Assessment Report — Summary


In January 2012, Ontario’s Office of the Fairness Commissioner assessed the way the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario   registers people who apply for a licence to practise in Ontario, to ensure that the registration practices are fair and continue to improve.  

This summary of the assessment includes commendable practices that are under way and recommendations for improvement.

The College of Physiotherapists of Ontario is subject to Ontario's fair access law, which amended the law about health professions, the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA). The law spells out the college’s obligation to have transparent, objective, impartial and fair registration methods and requirements.

The Office of the Fairness Commissioner

To encourage accountability under the fair access law, the Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) works with professions’ regulatory bodies to improve the way they register people who apply for professional licences. As a result of the OFC’s work, qualified people, no matter where they were originally trained, will have faster, fairer access to their licence to practise here.

In its work with regulators so far, the OFC has found that they have succeeded in streamlining their registration processes, but they need to do more. For example, regulators need to be more transparent and hold their assessment agencies more accountable for fairness.

To encourage, and hold regulators accountable for, continuous improvement, the OFC assesses their licensing practices in a two-year cycle. This cycle includes recommending improvements where needed and monitoring the bodies’ action plans that address the OFC’s concerns. This approach benefits applicants, the professions and the province.

You can read more about the OFC’s strategy for continuous improvement and its guide for assessments elsewhere on this site.

For more information about this particular assessment, contact the OFC.

Note: The words license, register and certify all refer to authorizing a person to practise a profession.


Commendable Practices

The College of Physiotherapists of Ontario (CPO) is demonstrating many commendable practices, in the following areas. (These areas correspond to the sections of the assessment guide, and are derived from the fair access legislation.)

Information for Applicants

  • All registration information is centrally located on the CPO website, with multiple points of access.
  • Registration information appears on the website in both English and French.
  • The website has a dedicated section for internationally educated physiotherapists. This section provides clear, complete and easy-to-find registration information, including a flow chart of the registration process.
  • A significant amount of registration information is provided in French on the website, and the CPO has established a French language services program.
  • The Rationale for Registration Requirements document directly explains how each registration requirement and its criteria are used to assess whether or not an applicant is competent to practise as a physiotherapist in Ontario. This document is available on the CPO website.

Documentation of Qualifications

  • The Application for Registration Guide on the CPO website outlines all documents required for registration, and it includes a checklist to help applicants ensure that their applications are complete.
  • The CPO's website includes frequently asked questions (FAQs) that provide further information about registration.
  • The CPO maintains an updated career map for internationally educated applicants. This map:
    • describes each step of the application process
    • lists the documents that internationally trained applicants must submit
    • explains the processes of the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (the Alliance), which is the CPO's third-party qualifications assessment agency

Assessment of Qualifications

  • The CPO takes measures to ensure that the Alliance's qualifications assessments are transparent, objective, impartial and fair.
  • The Alliance provides a lot of information on its website, including information regarding its policies and procedures, in the Physiotherapy Competency Examination Candidate Handbook and in FAQ documents.
  • The Alliance ensures that exam questions are valid and objective, and demonstrates this to applicants, by:
    • maintaining and publishing an exam blueprint, which guides the development of exams. The blueprint shows how the various questions in an exam test the essential physiotherapy competencies (the skills and knowledge needed to practise the profession).
    • reviewing and revising the exam blueprint periodically, to ensure that exams continue to evaluate the essential physiotherapy competencies
    • consulting extensively during the development of exam questions
    • using standardized quality control methods
    • completing a number of reports and studies on the exam
    • using the expertise of external testing and measurement consultants
  • After the Alliance administers an exam, it gives the CPO a report demonstrating that the exam administration was valid and reliable.


  • Registration committee members and staff members receive initial and ongoing training in making fair decisions, supporting human rights, understanding cultural differences and avoiding culture-related bias in decision-making, and writing decisions and reasons.


  • The CPO provides a commendable amount of registration information on its website in both English and French.
  • The CPO communicates with applicants at various stages of the application process.


  • The CPO helps to ensure that it comes to consistent decisions by:
    • providing staff and registration committee members with training in all areas that are relevant to making fair and effective registration decisions
    • maintaining a policy-and-procedure manual for its staff, to ensure fair, defensible and consistent decision-making
    • using registration criteria to assess applications in a way that is clear to both applicants and decision-makers
    • adopting and following the guiding principles proposed by the Ontario Regulators for Access Consortium (ORAC), for fairness, objectivity, transparency, accountability, and collaboration



The OFC recommends improvements in the following areas. (These areas correspond to the sections of the assessment guide, and are derived from the fair access legislation. Recommendations marked "Required" correspond to the practices regulators must demonstrate in order to meet the specific duties in the legislation. Recommendations marked "Good" correspond to the practices the OFC encourages a regulatory body to adopt in order to meet the general duty to provide registration practices that are transparent, objective, impartial and fair.)

Information for Applicants

  • The CPO keeps all applicant registration materials indefinitely. The CPO requests only notarized copies of originals, and the applicant keeps the originals. The OFC recommends that the CPO add this information to the application form and guide so that applicants are aware of it. [Good]
July 2012
  • The CPO is revising its flow chart to include both timelines and fees. The CPO is concerned that one chart may contain too much information and, as a result, may be difficult to understand. The OFC recommends that the CPO separate the information in a way that makes the information easy to access and understand. For example, a flowchart could be developed for each of the various types of graduates (that is, Ontario graduates, graduates from other jurisdictions in Canada, and internationally educated graduates). [Good]
July 2012
Blank = Implementation is in progress.
Checked = Recommendation is implemented.
Acceptable alternative = Regulator implements acceptable alternative to this recommendation.