Committed to continuous improvement, the College conducts an external review of its governance practices.
By Olivia Yu
Illustrations: Maguma/Illustration Web
As part of its commitment to efficiency, effectiveness and improvement, the College commissioned Governance Solutions Inc. (GSI) last March to conduct an independent review of its governance structure and processes.
“Ontario Certified Teachers are encouraged to improve their daily practice through self-reflection,” says College Registrar and CEO Michael Salvatori, OCT. “Internal review and examination are also part of the College’s commitment to continuous improvement, and the independent review is a part of that.”
After in-depth study and consultation, GSI delivered a comprehensive report, which provides 37 recommendations on the size and scope of the College’s Council and its 14 committees. (See the complete report at oct-oeeo.ca/governance.)
The report, made public on November 26, 2018, was shared with the Governance Committee and was presented to College Council.
“Council governs and makes decisions in the public interest,” says Council Chair Nicole van Woudenberg, OCT. “We are committed to improvements and will carefully review the recommendations to ensure we are doing what’s best to protect the public interest.”
The review’s recommendations include the following:
The recommendations stem from the consultations and observations of the College’s governance practices, compared with other regulators, as well as GSI’s experience and expertise.
The College’s commitment to effective governance processes and structures aligns with the Safe and Supportive Classrooms Act, 2018, which is before the legislature.
At the bill’s second-reading debate in November, Ontario Minister of Education Lisa Thompson explained that the proclamation was delayed to allow the Ministry to consider the outcomes of the College’s governance report and prepare necessary regulations.
On the report itself, Council Chair van Woudenberg says, “Council will continue to serve with rigour in the public interest — protecting students — and receives the recommendations in the report with that lens. The next step is to discuss the recommendations and determine an action plan moving forward.”
From an industry standpoint, regulators are using formal and informal governance reviews to become nimbler, more efficient and better able to protect the public. For example, the College of Nurses of Ontario, the Law Society of Ontario, the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia, and the Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia are either undergoing or have undergone reviews of their governance structure.
In between reviews, regulators also share lessons learned. For example, the leaders from various regulatory bodies in Ontario’s regulated health professions often share their effective governance with one another.
The Ontario College of Teachers’ leadership team and staff do the same. From communications tactics to regulatory efficiencies to application processes, the College makes it a point to work and collaborate with other regulators.
David Brown, author of the College’s governance report, and his team at GSI have been examining best practices in governance through information sharing and consultations for more than 27 years.
“If Ontario’s regulated professions, including the Ontario College of Teachers, seek to preserve a self-regulatory governance model, they will need to demonstrate effectiveness in protecting the public interest,” Brown, GSI’s executive vice-president, says in the report. “In the case of the College, this primarily means protecting the students of Ontario.”
Having a third-party review of the College’s practices is not new. The College commissioned former chief justice Patrick LeSage to look at its intake, investigation and discipline practices in 2011. LeSage’s review yielded a 76-page report with 49 recommendations, calling upon a concerted effort by the provincial government, district school boards and the College to update legislation, practices and bylaws to improve public protection. Ultimately, the report helped the College become more competent and transparent in its daily operations.
In addition, The College regularly conducts internal reviews of its work. One example is its own internal review of fairness practices, which took place before the formation of Ontario’s Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC). As a result of the review, the College made improvements to its application and registration processes, including practical experience requirements, efficient and timely decision-making and the reasonableness of fees. The College continues to review its practices for its annual submission to the OFC.
A profession’s ability to self-regulate is seen as a privilege, one that is earned by putting the interests of the public first. This belief is, and has been, firmly ingrained in the College’s work. “As one of the largest regulators in Canada, we have to show that we are willing and able to look at ourselves to make changes that can improve the way we do our work,” Salvatori says. “We have to be open and accept that there is room for improvement.”
David Brown and his team at Governance Solutions Inc. used online surveys, in-person and telephone interviews to canvass numerous stakeholders, in English and French, including:
Read the report at oct-oeeo.ca/governance.