The OFC may deploy a suite of tools to help ensure that regulators comply with their legislative obligations and institute fair and innovative registration practices.
The extent that these tools will be used, and the degree of intervention, will be based on what may be viewed as a compliance continuum involving progressive escalation to promote compliance with the legislation. The compliance tools, and the circumstances in which they may be used, are described below.
Please see Appendix 1 for a description of the compliance tools referred to in this table.
Appendix 1: OFC Compliance Tools
This section briefly describes each of the OFC’s compliance tools and the circumstances in which they may be used.
1. Education and Sharing of Best Practices
This tool incorporates a range of actions designed to promote compliance through education, advice, guidance, and promotion of fair registration best practices. The OFC may take this approach for all regulators, with the focus depending on observed gaps in each regulator’s processes.
2. Completion and Submission of FRP Reports
Pursuant to section 20 of FARPACTA, and section 22.7 of Schedule 2 to the RHPA, regulators are required to prepare and submit to the OFC a fair registration practices report annually, or at such other times as the Fairness Commissioner may specify.
As part of this obligation, the OFC asks that this report contain information pertaining to, among other things:
- The current membership size of the regulated profession, health regulatory college or compulsory trade.
- The total number of applicants.
- The number of internationally trained applicants.
- A demographic breakdown of both applicants and members (e.g., by gender and country of origin).
The OFC may seek additional information from regulators on a case-by-case basis according to their risk categories or more broadly for compliance purposes.
3. Meetings with Regulators
OFC staff will schedule regular meetings with regulators, the frequency of which will depend on the regulator’s risk category. These meetings will constitute a platform to exchange information and for regulators in the low and moderately low risk categories to provide updates and share information, as well as to discuss innovative fair registration best practices. For regulators in the moderate to high-risk category, the meetings will serve as compliance forums to address and resolve ongoing and / or persistent fair access issues.
4. Completion of Compliance Action Plan and other Reports
Under sections 22(1) and 24(1) of FARPACTA, and sections 22.7(3) and 22.7(4) of Schedule 2 of the RHPA, the OFC may require that a regulator prepare reports relating to the regulated profession’s compliance with its legislated obligations. For health colleges, this may also include reports outside the scope of the legislative provisions over which the OFC has direct oversight.
The OFC uses this authority to request compliance action plans. This tool is generally reserved for regulators in the moderately low, and moderate to high-risk category. The OFC and regulators will use this tool to track how a regulator is addressing, and making progress on, compliance issues that the OFC has identified for further action.
While the OFC will work with the regulator to develop a mutually agreed upon compliance plan, it reserves the right to formulate this document on a unilateral basis.
Pursuant to the provisions cited above, the OFC may require other reports or information related to compliance-related issues.
5. Letter from the Fairness Commissioner to the CEO / Registrar, Council and / or Responsible Minister
If the regulator does not institute corrective actions, or show meaningful progress against stated objectives, the Fairness Commissioner may choose to write to senior officials within the organization and / or the responsible minister to outline the relevant concerns. This approach would typically be reserved for regulators in the moderate to high-risk category.
6. Publicizing non-compliance issues / opportunities for improvement (annual report or other publications)
If the compliance tools described above do not produce effective results, and the compliance issues persist, the OFC may choose to publicize its ongoing concerns regarding the regulator’s registration practices, through a variety of media, such as the OFC’s website, annual report and other publications. The OFC will only use this compliance tool for regulators in the moderate to high-risk category and provide prior notice of this action.
7. OFC Initiated Review of Registration Practices
Under section 19 of FARPACTA, and section 22.6 of Schedule 2 to the RHPA, the OFC may also require that a regulator undertake a review of its registration practices to ensure that these practices are transparent, objective, impartial and fair. The OFC may mandate this review on a case-by-case basis. This report is designed to canvass issues relating to the relevance or necessity of registration requirements, the timeliness of decision-making and the reasonableness of fees.
8. Compliance Assessment
Section 13(3)(a) of FARPACTA and section 22.5(1)(a) of Schedule 2 of the RHPA indicate that it is the function of the Fairness Commissioner to assess the registration practices of regulators based on their obligations under the statute and regulations.
The compliance assessment is a tool that the OFC may use for newly established regulators or those in the moderate to high-risk category. Through targeted compliance initiatives, the OFC would determine the regulator’s level of compliance. This approach would involve a review of relevant information to assess the extent to which the regulator is complying with its legal obligations and to develop informed conclusions on the appropriate corrective actions that the regulator should undertake.
The audit process is analogous to an independent investigation that is conducted by a third party that the OFC approves. It will typically involve a defined and targeted review of material and persistent deficiencies in a regulator’s registration processes. The audit is expected to yield a report with findings and recommendations.
Under section 21(2) of FARPACTA and section 22.8(2) of Schedule 2 to the RHPA, the cost of the audit is borne by the regulator and the final report must filed with the Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development for regulated professions and trades, and the Minister of Health for the health regulatory colleges.
Given the significant nature of the audit authority, the OFC will employ this tool sparingly and only where the circumstances so warrant. This tool is an available option for regulators in the moderate to high-risk category.
10. Compliance Orders (for FARPACTA regulators)
If the Fairness Commissioner concludes that a regulated profession has contravened either the specific duties (Part III) and/or reporting obligations (Part VI) enumerated in FARPACTA, the commissioner may issue a compliance order against the regulator. The order may contain any actions that the Fairness Commissioner deems appropriate for the regulator to do, or to refrain from doing, to comply with the legislation. The provisions in FARPACTA outline a specific process for issuing an order.
Under section 30(1) of FARPACTA, where a regulator fails to comply with an order made by the Fairness Commissioner, the regulator is guilty of an offence and is subject to prosecution.
This authority of the Fairness Commissioner to issue compliance orders is not available under Schedule 2 to the RHPA.