What is good governance? This is a question regulatory boards and staff frequently ask themselves, and one which I also reflect on in my role as Registrar and CEO of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.
In the regulatory context, good governance is the framework that ensures that colleges like ours operate in an environment of continuous improvement and are well-positioned to make decisions in the public interest. In this sense, it is fundamental to the College fulfilling its public protection mandate.
I am pleased to report that the College has made significant progress in its journey towards more effective governance.
Last year, College Council agreed to re-examine and improve its current governance practices through governance training and a review of its governance processes. The College engaged with governance consultants Harry Cayton and Deanna Williams – both widely respected in the international regulatory community – to conduct the review and assess the College’s performance against the Standards of Good Governance. Following this review, College Council was provided with a “Governance Report,” which was made public on the College website in May.
In response to the Governance Report, the Council’s Governance Committee (at Council’s direction) developed a draft action plan based on the Report’s 21 recommendations. Throughout the summer, the Governance Committee carefully considered which recommendations could be implemented immediately, which should go to Council for consideration, and which may require legislative change in the longer term.
During its September Council meeting, College Council reviewed the draft action plan and made a number of decisions in relation to the recommendations from the Governance Report. I’d like to highlight one of these: that the College use the word “registrant” – rather than “member” – to make clear its role as a regulator rather than an association. As we all know, language is important; this decision will impact how we communicate with you, our registrants, moving forward.
The College remains dedicated to achieving regulatory effectiveness, and this includes good governance. We must continue to consider trends in regulatory governance modernization across Canada and internationally – especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and other societal challenges – and make appropriate changes based on what is happening in the regulatory sector in Ontario and across Canada. This includes, for example, considering the implications of the College Performance Measurement Framework developed by the Ontario Ministry of Health for the regulated health profession colleges.
Everything the College does comes down to ensuring that there are safeguards in place to protect the public from unqualified, incompetent and unfit practitioners. As we continue our journey of governance transformation, we must embrace the challenges and learn from them. I look forward to sharing more with you in the days ahead.
Lise Betteridge, MSW, RSW
Registrar and CEO
Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers