Growing a 200-year-old tradition

The College is sharing our expertise and learning from other professional regulators


Deputy Registrar Joe Jamieson, OCT, shared the College’s professional advisory on social media with other Canadian regulators

In 1797 the legislative assembly created the Law Society of Upper Canada to be a “learned and honourable body, to assist their fellow subjects as occasion may require, and to support and maintain the constitution of the said Province.”

In modern terms, the Law Society describes itself as a body that ensured “all persons who practise law in Ontario were competent, followed proper procedures and behaved ethically.” This is self-regulation, a privilege Ontario’s teachers gained 200 years later in 1997.

Governments can regulate a profession directly or delegate regulatory power to the profession itself. The education ministry regulates teaching in nine provinces. Only in Ontario does the government delegate this responsibility to a College of Teachers — one of more than 40 self-regulatory bodies in the province.

According to the College of Nurses of Ontario, “Self-regulation is a privilege granted to those professions that have shown they can put the interests of the public ahead of their own professional interests.” This duty to protect distinguishes a regulatory body from a professional association.

No one knows more about the profession than those who practise it. The members of a profession are the ones most interested in qualifications and standards, in improving their practice and making sure only the qualified remain in the profession.

Self-regulating professions from physicians to funeral directors — as well as the teaching profession — play an important role in their members’ professional development.

The professionals who lead and work for self-regulatory bodies also engage in ongoing learning about self-regulation. For many regulators, the Canadian Network of National Associations of Regulators (CNNAR) and the international Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR) are important sources of learning.

College Registrar Michael Salvatori, OCT, and Deputy Registrar Joe Jamieson, OCT, are both involved in the leadership of these organizations, particularly in international relations and board training. Salvatori will chair CNNAR’s 2013 conference this coming October in Toronto and co-chaired the 2011 conference. Salvatori made a featured presentation to a CNNAR meeting in Ottawa in November 2012 about the College’s experience and that of other regulators in dealing with media coverage and the role that media scrutiny plays in helping regulators serve the public interest.

At CNNAR’s 2011 meeting in Toronto, Deputy Registrar Jamieson presented the College’s professional advisory on teachers’ use of social media to regulators from across Canada who were eager to hear from the first professional regulatory body in the country to develop an advisory on the topic.

Manager of Membership Records Iona Mitchell presented to CLEAR’s 2010 conference on obtaining and reviewing academic documents from international jurisdictions.

In recent years, College staff have shared best practices with other regulators on professional competencies, standards of practice, streamlined registration processes, labour mobility, compliance, and a range of other regulatory topics.

Although the teaching profession is a relative newcomer to the self-regulatory field in Ontario, the College of Teachers’ 235,000-plus members make it the largest self-regulating professional body in Canada. The College’s commitment to sharing and adopting best practices with other professions is an essential part of building public trust and confidence in teachers’ ability to self-regulate.