Grey Areas

SML’s Grey Areas newsletter has been in publication since July 1992 and discusses the latest developments in professional regulation. New issues are published monthly – subscribe below to learn more about recent studies, case law and legislative updates in the regulatory world. Explore our catalogue below or on CanLII.

Since the establishment of the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), Canadian regulators have been monitoring professional regulation developments in the United Kingdom. Some, but certainly not all, of the approaches taken in the UK have been adapted by some Canadian jurisdictions and regulators. Most notable was the enactment of the Health Professions and Occupations Act in British Columbia.
Vastly different words are used to describe the concept, each with their own moral implications: “snitch”, “informant”, “whistleblower”, “professional”. Whatever term is used, an obligation to report problematic conduct by other registrants is an important regulatory tool. Such information enables the regulator to investigate issues of misconduct, incompetence, or incapacity that may place the public at risk and that might
While Canadian politicians spar over whether gender-based violence, particularly intimate partner violence (IPV), is an epidemic, regulators are assessing their role. Regulators of professions, particularly in the health and law enforcement domains, treat IPV in a registrant’s private life as serious professional misconduct. While important, questions arise as to whether regulators can and should do more.
In recent years, many Canadian regulators have taken preliminary steps to address the racism facing Indigenous people. The reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada have contributed enormously to these activities. Initial steps by regulators have included public acknowledgements of the role of professions in the oppression of Indigenous peoples, education of regulatory staff and committees on the
In the distant past, a complaints screening committee only decided whether a complaint warranted a discipline hearing. However, more than four decades ago, the courts urged regulators to use their screening committees to be more innovative to encourage registrants to enhance their performance: Re Matheson and College of Nurses of Ontario, 1980 CanLII 1614 (ON CA). Remedial measures, such as
Identifying, preventing, and addressing conflicts of interest is a recurring and challenging issue for regulators. A board or committee member who acts in a conflict of interest can create reputational harm and even liability for both the regulator and the individual. The resulting decision can be set aside. Public confidence, including from the relevant government Minister, can be compromised.