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Better Protection for Ontario Students

The College welcomes long-awaited changes to its legislation.

photo: istock

Students in line wear face masks

Long-recommended Council changes to the College's governing legislation have arrived — to the ultimate benefit of Ontario students.

As part of the fall economic statement on November 5, Ontario's provincial government introduced Bill 229, Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act (Budget Measures), 2020, which included significant proposed changes to College governance and the discipline process.

"The protection of the public interest and the safeguarding of students is critical to our role," College Deputy Registrar Chantal BĂ©lisle, OCT, said in a media release following the tabling of the bill. "The modernization of our Act will provide the tools necessary for the College to fulfill its mandate and mission."

The legislation mirrors and reinforces numerous recommendations the College's Council has made to the government in recent years, including changes to the College's governance structure following an independent review in 2018.

Council endorsed most of the review's 37 recommendations.

Among the proposed reforms, Bill 229 recommends:

Once passed, the legislation will enable the College to complete a corporate governance restructuring that will serve as a model for professional self-regulation in Ontario.

Council and committee members will be selected from a diverse group of individuals, including members of the profession, with attributes and competencies to govern the teaching profession in the public interest.

This will be achieved through an open and transparent application process. Furthermore, the proposed changes will enable the College to dispense with costly elections that resulted in low candidate and voter participation. Once enacted, the legislation will dissolve the College's 2021 election now in process. However, opportunity for greater and more diverse individual College member participation will increase on Council, committees and panel rosters.

The College has always operated within the legislation of the day and welcomes measures that further protect students.

A number of the amendments included in the bill were previously endorsed by Council, including having authority to request medical assessments during disciplinary investigations.

"The College has worked diligently on recommendations that protect students and looks forward to working with the province on the reforms," says Council Chair Nicole van Woudenberg, OCT. "Council will review and discuss the proposed amendments as additional information becomes available."

If the legislation is not approved, the College will proceed with its planned election for its 9th Council.