Governing Ourselves informs members of legal and regulatory matters affecting the profession. This section provides updates on licensing and qualification requirements, notification of Council resolutions and reports from various Council committees, including reports on accreditation and discipline matters.
Transparency and communication were the themes of the evening at the 2015 Annual Meeting of Members, held June 4 at the College offices in Toronto.
Keynote speaker and CBC Ombudsman Esther Enkin set the tone for the meeting with her address, “Openness in the Age of Social Media.”
“Any group or institution with a degree of public accountability or expectation of standards is now in partnership with the public,” said Enkin. “They always were, but now it’s much more real.”
Those who operate with public interest as a mandate have an obligation to be transparent about how they protect that interest. “The pressure to be open about what you do, and to be sure the public understands and participates in your processes of self-regulation, will only grow in the world of social media and interactivity.”
Enkin pointed out that there’s no upside to opacity. “If you can’t find ways to make openness and transparency happen, you have to know members of the public will find ways to find you in this digital space.”
On the other hand, she added, “The better you engage and listen, and the more you do it, the better your organization will be. From there, public respect and trust will grow.”
More communication isn’t always better, however. An unfiltered mass of information can confuse, rather than clarify. “You can dump tons of information on people and it just adds to the firehose of information that bombards us all,” cautioned Enkin. Reacting too quickly is also a risk when responding to social media communication. “There’s a tension in this new environment between the need to be thoughtful and the expectation of instant response,” she said.
“Digital technology has redefined the relationship between people and their communities, and people and their institutions,” said Enkin. “It requires responsiveness, engagement and an ability to account for your actions. It’s more than just a delivery system; it’s about genuine openness and sharing.”
These principles guide the College’s daily activities, including communications efforts, whether through social media or other outlets. In her address to members, then Council Chair Liz Papadopoulos, OCT, touched on some of the College’s communication highlights in 2014. “The College continued with its public awareness initiative to educate the public about who we are, what we do and how we regulate teaching in Ontario.” To encourage discourse, the College worked with school trustees and parent councils, and participated in community events in an effort to build a subscriber base for the public newsletter, The Standard, and involve influential parent bloggers in the conversation.
“Consultation continued as a hallmark of College culture,” said College CEO and Registrar Michael Salvatori, OCT. “We conducted several surveys over the year to gather feedback instrumental to improving our service to members and to the public.” The College requested member input to simplify the accreditation information management system and streamlined its ability to gather critical information from members. In addition, the College launched a mobile app to enable members to access College information more easily.
“The College has [also] made significant upgrades to improve timelines, efficiency and transparency regarding our disciplinary role,” said Papadopoulos. Proposed provincial Bill 103, the Protecting Students Act, incorporated significant amendments that would have reinforced the College’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its investigation, disciplinary and reporting processes, but died because of the Ontario election last year.
“We’ve made great strides to improve efficiencies and bolster transparency in our investigations and hearings processes,” said Salvatori. “We anticipate the reintroduction of a bill to amend our Act to bring needed regulatory changes to the forefront.”