Fairness commission sees improvements

By RON FANFAIR

Jamaica ranks fifth behind the United States, Australia, India and England as the source country for teaching, the largest regulated profession in Ontario while Nigerian-trained nurses and South African chartered accountants are third in their respective professions.

Teachers, nurses, engineers, lawyers, physicians, chartered, general and management accountants, engineering technicians and technologists and social workers accounted for 87 per cent of the 707,718 regulated professionals in the province last year, with teachers and nurses making up more than 50 per cent of that number.

The statistics and findings are contained in the Office of the Fairness Commissioner’s (OFC) annual report released last week.

Former federal member of parliament, Jean Augustine, heads the office which was set up in April 2007 to ensure that regulated professions use transparent, objective, impartial and fair registration practices.

The office, which is independent of the professions and has no role in advocacy, credential assessment or intervention on behalf of any applicant, requires regulatory bodies to examine their own registration process, submit reports and engage in compliance audits.

Augustine said the regulated professions are working hard to fulfill their obligations under the legislation and they are making good progress.

“I am pleased to see the signs of positive systemic change that reflects the values of Ontarians,” said Augustine. “Over the past year, we have worked closely with these bodies to develop guides and other tools to assist them as they meet their new responsibilities.

“With our leadership, regulators are taking action by modernizing programs, revisiting requirements and rewriting regulations about licensing.”

Last January, the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers approved a reduction in the college’s annual membership and registration fees as well as its annual fees for new graduates.

Internationally trained and graduated social workers can obtain a Certificate in Canadian Social Work Practice through a one-year internationally educated social work professionals bridging program at Ryerson University’s Raymond Chang School of Continuing program.

The Ontario College of Teachers proposed amendments that included the consolidation of certificates, the elimination of the requirement for one year of successful teaching experience as a condition of certification for teachers educated outside the province and the introduction of an orientation to the Ontario education system as a condition for certification.

While acknowledging that the harmonization and simplification of registration practices are beneficial, the OFC expressed concerns that bridging programs that are compulsory for registration may create barriers if their costs are prohibitive or if they fail to recognize the qualifications of internationally trained individuals.

In order to practice medicine in Ontario, international graduates are required to possess Canadian post-graduate qualifications necessary for an independent practice certificate.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario claims it is committed to reducing barriers for qualified candidates by finding new and creative ways to evaluate the competence and performance of physicians aspiring to practice in the province.

The OFC has made it clear that qualified applicants in Ontario represent an important source of talent and valuable skills and they could be used to help relieve the province’s shortage of doctors. The OFC suggested that it is important to recognize these applicants, regardless of where they are trained.

The Ontario government introduced the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act (FARPA) in June 2006.

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