Refusing to Consider Competencies Obtained Outside of School

The trend in registration matters has been to consider competencies rather than credentials. This is an essential part of the legal requirements imposed on regulators relating to national and international mobility. It is also consistent with the public interest in having all competent practitioners practise their professions. However, credential-based registration requirements are still legal and enforceable when required by legislation.

In Marshall v College of Psychologists of Ontario, 2018 ONSC 6282, the Divisional Court was faced with a challenge by a psychologist who had obtained a doctorate in Canada from a non-accredited program. At the time that the Canadian degree was obtained, the applicant likely met the requirements for registration. However, a subsequent regulation amendment (of which the applicant indicated he had not received prior notice) required equivalency to an accredited program, which the regulator concluded did not exist. After graduation the applicant had obtained significant relevant experience and had published a number of peer-reviewed articles in the field. It also appeared that if the applicant were internationally trained he might have faced a more flexible registration process.

The regulator concluded that the non-exemptible requirement had not been met since it spoke specifically about the applicant’s educational “program” which did not permit the consideration of post-graduation experience and writing. The appeal tribunal found this interpretation of the language of the regulation was reasonable. The Court, while acknowledging the policy arguments for considering competencies obtained outside of the program itself, agreed.

The Marshall case highlights the importance of the legislative language in registration matters.

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