2nd Session, 60th General Assembly
57 Elizabeth II, 2008
The Honourable Chris A. d'Entremont
Minister of Health
First Reading: November 3, 2008
Second Reading: November 13, 2008
Third Reading: November 24, 2008 (LINK TO BILL AS PASSED)
Be it enacted by the Governor and Assembly as follows:
1 This Act may be cited as the Counselling Therapists Act.
2 In this Act,
(a) "appraisal or assessment" means selecting, administering, scoring and interpreting instruments designed to assess an individual's attitudes, abilities, achievements, interests and personal characteristics and the use of methods and techniques, including interviewing and direct observation, for understanding and evaluating human behaviour in relation to coping with, adapting to or changing life situations;
(b) "Association" means the Nova Scotia Association of Counselling Therapists;
(c) "Board" means the Board of the College;
(d) "by-law" means a by-law of the College;
(e) "civil proceeding" means any proceeding of a civil nature other than an arbitration proceeding or a proceeding before an adjudicative tribunal board or commission of inquiry;
(f) "College" means the Nova Scotia College of Counselling Therapists;
(g) "competence" means the ability to integrate and apply the knowledge, skills and judgement required to practise safely and ethically in a designated role and practice setting and includes both entry level and continuing competencies;
(h) "complaint" means a notice in writing indicating possible professional misconduct, conduct unbecoming the profession, incompetence or incapacity of a member;
(i) "Complaints Committee" means the Complaints Committee established by this Act;
(j) "consulting" means the application of scientific or well-established principles and procedures in counselling and human development to provide assistance in understanding and solving current problems that a consultee may have in relation to a third party, whether an individual, a group or an organization;
(k) "continuing-education credits" means credits approved by the Board for programs, conferences and other activities of a continuing-education nature;
(l) "counsellee" means an individual, group, community or population who is the recipient of counselling-therapy services;
(m) "counselling" means assisting counsellees through the counselling relationship, using a combination of mental health and human development principles, methods and techniques to achieve mental, emotional, physical, social, moral, educational, spiritual or career development and adjustment through the counsellee's lifespan;
(n) "counselling therapist" means a counselling therapist whose name appears on the Register and who is licensed to practise counselling therapy;
(o) "counselling-therapy education program" means a master's level counselling degree or an equivalent degree program as approved by the Board;
(p) "electronic means" means the use of telephone, fax, television, video conferencing, cable, internet, intranet or any form of electronic or computerized communication;
(q) "hearing" means a process before the Professional Conduct Committee following the issuance of a notice of hearing, where the parties lead evidence and make submissions to the Professional Conduct Committee, but does not include the consideration by the Professional Conduct Committee of a settlement proposal or an application for consent revocation or any hearing or any proceeding before the Complaints Committee;
(r) "incapacity" means the status whereby a respondent, at the time of the subject-matter of a complaint, suffered from a medical, physical, mental or emotional condition, disorder or addiction that rendered the respondent unable to practise with reasonable skill or judgement or that may have endangered the health or safety of counsellees;
(s) "incompetence" means the display of a lack of knowledge, skill or judgement in the respondent's care of a counsellee or delivery of counselling-therapy services that, having regard to all the circumstances, rendered the respondent unsafe to practise at the time of such care of the counsellee or delivery of counselling-therapy services or that renders the respondent unsafe to continue in the practice of counselling therapy without remedial assistance;
(t) "individual scope of practice" means the roles, functions and accountabilities that an individual is educated and authorized to perform;
(u) "investigator" means a person designated by the Registrar to conduct or supervise an investigation into a complaint;
(v) "judge" means a judge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia;
(w) "legal proceeding" means any civil proceeding, discovery, inquiry, proceeding before any tribunal, board or commission or arbitration, in which evidence is or may be given, and includes an action or proceeding for the imposition of punishment by fine, penalty or imprisonment for the violation of a Provincial enactment, but does not include any proceeding or hearing conducted pursuant to this Act or the regulations;
(x) "licence" means an active-practising licence with or without conditions or restrictions or a temporary licence issued in accordance with this Act and the regulations;
(y) "licensing sanction" means
(z) "member" means a person whose name is entered in the Register and, for the purpose of Sections 13 to 30 and the regulations, includes a person who holds a temporary licence at the time of an incident giving rise to a complaint;
(aa) "party" means the College or a respondent, as the context requires;
(ab) "practice of counselling therapy" means rendering to individuals, couples, families, groups, organizations, corporations, schools or other institutions, government agencies or the general public a service that integrates diverse models of human behaviour, such as clinical, pathology, wellness, cross-cultural and other recognized models through a combination of counselling, appraisal and assessment, consulting, referral and research;
(ac) "profession" means the profession of counselling therapy;
(ad) "Professional Conduct Committee" means the Professional Conduct Committee established by this Act;
(ae) "professional conduct process" means the processes described in Sections 31 to 54 and in the "Professional Conduct" part of the regulations;
(af) "professional corporation" means one or more counselling therapists incorporated pursuant to the laws of the Province for the purpose of engaging in the practice of counselling therapy;
(ag) "professional misconduct" includes such conduct or acts relevant to the profession that, having regard to all the circumstances, would reasonably be regarded as disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, may include
(xii) engaging or assisting in fraud, misrepresentation, deception or concealment of a material fact when applying for or securing registration or a licence or taking any examination provided for in this Act, including using fraudulently procured credentials;
(ah) "public representative" means a member of the Board or of a committee who is not a member of the College;
(ai) "referral" means evaluating and identifying needs of a counsellee to determine the advisability of referral to other specialists, informing the counsellee of such judgment and communicating as requested or deemed appropriate to such referral services;
(aj) "Register" means the Register established pursuant to this Act;
(ak) "registered counselling therapist re-entry program" means a program approved by the Board that tests counselling-therapy knowledge and provides for a period of preceptored clinical counselling-therapy practice;
(al) "Registrar" means the Registrar of the College appointed pursuant to this Act;
(am) "Registration Appeal Committee" means the Registration Appeal Committee established by this Act;
(an) "registration examination" means such examination or examinations as may be approved from time to time by the Board in the by-laws as a prerequisite for qualification as a counselling therapist;
(ao) "Re-instatement Committee" means the Re-instatement Committee established by this Act;
(ap) "research" means a systematic effort to collect, analyze and interpret quantitative or qualitative data that describe how social characteristics and behaviour, emotion, cognitions and interpersonal transactions among individuals and organizations interact;
(aq) "respondent" means the member who is the subject of a complaint or the subject of an appeal pursuant to Section 19;
(ar) "roster" means the record of the category of licensing established pursuant to this Act or the regulations;
(as) "scope of practice of the profession" means the roles, functions and accountabilities that counselling therapists are educated and authorized to perform;
(at) "settlement proposal" means a proposal for the settlement of a complaint as prescribed in the regulations;
(au) "standards for the practice of counselling therapy" means the minimal professional practice expectations for any counselling therapist in any setting or role, approved by the Board or otherwise inherent in the profession;
(av) "temporary licence"means a temporary licence issued pursuant to this Act;
(aw) "witness" includes every person who, in the course of a legal proceeding, is examined for discovery or is cross-examined upon an affidavit made by that person, answers any interrogatories or makes an affidavit as to documents or is called upon to answer any question or produce any document, whether under oath or not, and includes the College or any representative of the College.
3 (1) The Association, a society incorporated under the Societies Act, is hereby continued as a body corporate under the name of the Nova Scotia College of Counselling Therapists and is composed of its members.
5 In addition to any other power conferred by this or any other Act, the College may do such things as it considers appropriate to advance the objects of the College and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, may
(h) borrow money for the use of the College on its credit, limit or increase the amount to be borrowed, issue bonds, debentures, debenture stock and other securities on the credit of the College and pledge or sell such securities for such sums or at such prices as deemed expedient;
(i) secure the repayment of money borrowed, in such manner and upon such terms and conditions as it considers fit, and, in particular, by the execution and delivery of mortgages of all or any part of the real or personal property of the College, both present and future;
7 (1) The Board shall govern the College and manage its affairs and may take any action consistent with this Act and the regulations that it considers necessary for the promotion, protection, interest or welfare of the College, including
(4) Notwithstanding subsection (1), the persons who at the coming into force of this Act constitute the Board of Directors of the Association constitute the Board until the election or appointment of members pursuant to subsection (2).
(b) respecting the holding of the annual general meeting and special meetings of the College, including the notice for such meetings, the content of such meetings, the quorum, the procedures to be followed and the manner of voting;
(c) creating one or more rosters of members and prescribing the rights, privileges, qualifications and obligations of the members of each roster and prescribing the conditions for the entry and maintenance of members' names in each roster;
(d) creating categories of affiliation with the College, including honorary and student categories, and prescribing the rights, privileges, qualifications and obligations of the persons in these categories and prescribing the conditions for the entry and maintenance of such persons' names in these categories;
(i) respecting the revocation or suspension of licences issued pursuant to this Act and the re-instatement of such licences and allowing for conditions, limitations or restrictions to be attached to a re-instated licence;
(k) providing that the licence of a member be suspended without notice or investigation upon contravention of any regulation that requires the member to pay a fee, to file a document or do any other act by a specified or ascertainable date and providing for the re-instatement of a licence so suspended upon payment of such fee as determined by the Board;
(l) respecting the ability of the Registrar, the Complaints Committee and the Professional Conduct Committee to impose a fine where members have engaged in the practice of counselling therapy while not holding a current licence;
16 (1) The Registrar shall register and shall issue a licence to a person who has completed a counselling-therapy education program and who meets the criteria for registration and entry in the licenced roster as set out in the regulations.
and it is otherwise consistent with the objects of the College but impractical to issue a licence, with or without conditions or restrictions, the Registrar, upon payment of the prescribed fee, may approve or refuse an application for a temporary licence and shall notify the applicant accordingly.
the Registrar shall give written reasons for such decision and the applicant may, by written notice, appeal that decision to the Registration Appeal Committee within thirty days of receipt of such written notice.
(4) Notwithstanding subsection (3), the Registration Appeal Committee may, in its discretion, allow the introduction of evidence that is otherwise inadmissible under subsection (3) and may make directions it considers necessary to ensure that a party is not prejudiced.
(6) At a hearing before the Registration Appeal Committee, all material relied upon by the Registrar in making the decision that is the subject of the appeal must be provided to the Committee and to the appellant.
22 (1) The Registration Appeal Committee, in accordance with the evidence it receives when hearing an appeal, may make any determination that, in its opinion, ought to have been made by the Registrar or the Registration Committee.
23 (1) No person shall take or use the designation "Counselling Therapist", "Registered Counselling Therapist" or "RCT", or any derivation or abbreviation thereof, in the Province, either alone or in combination with other words, letters or descriptions to imply that the person is entitled to use the designation unless such person
(2) No person shall take or use the designation "Counselling Therapist Candidate" or "Registered Counselling Therapist Candidate" or any derivation or abbreviation thereof in the Province, either alone or in combination with other words, letters or descriptions to imply that the person is entitled to use the designation unless such person meets the criteria for the issuing of a temporary licence (counselling therapist candidate) pursuant to this Act and the regulations and is authorized pursuant to the regulations to engage in the practice of counselling therapy.
24 A statement certified under the hand of the Registrar respecting the membership and entry in the appropriate roster of a person's name is admissible in evidence as prima facie proof of that person's entry in such roster.
25 Where the right of a person to practise as a counselling therapist has been limited by the imposition of conditions or restrictions pursuant to this Act or the regulations, particulars of all conditions or restrictions imposed on that person must be noted in the records of the College and may be disclosed to the public in accordance with this Act.
28 (1) A member who engages in the practice of counselling therapy outside the Province and who was subject to any disciplinary findings while outside the Province or has outstanding complaints from outside the Province shall not engage in the practice of counselling therapy upon returning to the Province before providing the Registrar with notice of such disciplinary findings or complaints and receiving from the Registrar a notice authorizing the member to resume the practice of counselling therapy in the Province.
(5) In a prosecution of an offence contrary to this Act or the regulations, the onus to prove that a person accused of an offence has the right to use a designation protected by this Act is on the person accused.
30 (1) In the event of a threatened or continuing violation of this Act or the regulations, the College may apply to a judge for an injunction to restrain the person from continuing or committing the violation and, where the judge deems it to be just, the judge may grant such an injunction.
(2) A judge may, on application, grant an interim injunction pending the hearing of an application for an injunction pursuant to subsection (1) if the judge is satisfied that there is reason to believe that a person is likely to commit or is continuing to commit a violation of this Act or the regulations.
31 (1) In accordance with the objects of the College, the professional conduct process must seek to inhibit professional misconduct, conduct unbecoming a counselling therapist, incompetence and incapacity by investigating, on its own initiative or on the complaints of others, alleged instances of such misconduct, conduct unbecoming a counselling therapist, incompetence or incapacity and, when appropriate, disposing of the matter or matters in accordance with the regulations.
32 Where a member of the College ceases to be registered or licensed for any reason, such person remains subject to the jurisdiction of the College for the purpose of the professional conduct process, if the subject-matter of the professional conduct process arose out of the person's conduct while registered or licenced.
(4) Whenever for any reason neither the Chair nor the Vice-chair are available for purposes of subsections (5), (6) and (7), the Board may, for such purposes, appoint a member of the Complaints Committee as chair of the Complaints Committee.
(5) The Chair of the Complaints Committee shall appoint a panel of three persons from the Complaints Committee, one of whom must be a public representative, to act as the Complaints Committee for purposes of the professional conduct process.
(9) Failure of one or more Complaints Committee members to receive any notice of a meeting does not invalidate the proceedings at the meeting, and nothing precludes the members from waiving notice of meetings.
(11) Where a proceeding is commenced before the Complaints Committee and the term of office of any person sitting on the Complaints Committee expires, that person may remain part of the Committee until the proceeding is concluded.
35 The Complaints Committee has all the powers conferred by this Act and the regulations in the discharge of its functions as well as the powers, privileges and immunities of a commissioner appointed pursuant to the Public Inquiries Act.
(2) The Complaints Committee retains jurisdiction over a matter until such time as a hearing commences before the Professional Conduct Committee or the matter is otherwise resolved by the Professional Conduct Committee.
38 With respect to any decision issued by the Complaints Committee that is available to the public pursuant to this Act or the regulations, the Committee may impose a publication ban on such portions of its decision as deemed necessary by the Committee.
(2) When a complaint is forwarded to the Complaints Committee for disposition, the Committee shall give its decision in writing and shall send a copy of the written decision, by registered mail or personal service, to the respondent and the complainant and may send some or all of the written decision to such other persons as the Committee determines.
pending or following the completion of an investigation and lasting until the suspension, restrictions or conditions are lifted, superseded or annulled by the Committee or the Professional Conduct Committee, as the case may be.
(6) Where a Complaints Committee issues an interim suspension or imposes conditions or restrictions on a respondent's licence, the Committee shall provide a copy of the decision to the complainant and the respondent and determine whether any aspects of the Committee's decision should be provided to other affected individuals, other counselling-therapy jurisdictions, any past, present or intended employer of the respondent or the public.
(a) has been charged with, pleaded guilty to, been convicted or found to be guilty of any offence in or out of Canada that is inconsistent with the proper professional behaviour of a member, including a conviction under
and such person is a member or applies for registration or a licence or the renewal of a licence, the Registrar may, by such notice as the Registrar prescribes, require the person to attend a hearing before the Complaints Committee to fully disclose the facts and circumstances of the matters referred to in clauses (a) to (d).
(3) For the purpose of subsection (1), a certificate of conviction of a member is conclusive evidence that the member has committed the offence stated therein, unless it is proven that the conviction has been quashed or set aside.
42 (1) All complaints received or under investigation, all information gathered in the course of the professional conduct process and all proceedings and decisions of the Complaints Committee and the Professional Conduct Committee that are not open to or available to the public in accordance with this Act or the regulations must be kept confidential by the person or persons who possess such information.
(a) the Registrar, on the recommendation of the Complaints Committee or the Professional Conduct Committee, may disclose to law enforcement authorities any information about possible criminal activity on the part of a member that is obtained during an investigation pursuant to this Act;
(c) the Registrar may disclose information with respect to the complaint or a matter before a committee to an extra-provincial counselling-therapy regulatory body when it is relevant and concerns the fitness of the member for membership in the extra-provincial counselling-therapy regulatory body; and
(3) A witness in any legal proceeding, whether a party thereto or not, is excused from answering any question as to any proceedings of the Complaints Committee, the Professional Conduct Committee or the Re-instatement Committee, and is excused from producing any report, statement, memorandum, recommendation, document or information prepared for purposes of the professional conduct process, including any information gathered in the course of an investigation or produced for the Complaints Committee, the Professional Conduct Committee or the Re-instatement Committee.
(5) Unless otherwise determined by a court of competent jurisdiction, a decision of the Complaints Committee or the Professional Conduct Committee is not admissible in a civil proceeding other than an appeal or review pursuant to this Act.
(4) Whenever for any reason neither the Chair nor the Vice-chair are available for purposes of subsections (5), (6) and (7), the Board may, for such purposes, appoint a member of the Professional Conduct Committee as chair of the Professional Conduct Committee.
(5) The Chair of the Professional Conduct Committee shall appoint a panel of five persons from the Committee, at least one of whom must be a public representative, to act as the Professional Conduct Committee for purposes of the professional conduct process.
(8) Any three persons from the panel appointed pursuant to subsection (5), regardless of whether such persons are members or public representatives, constitute a quorum of the Professional Conduct Committee.
(10) Failure of one or more Professional Conduct Committee members to receive any notice of a meeting does not invalidate the proceedings at the meeting, and nothing precludes Committee members from waiving notice of meetings.
(11) All Professional Conduct Committee decisions require the vote of a majority of the panel of the Committee appointed pursuant to subsection (5) or the quorum of such panel in the event the full panel is not sitting.
(12) Where a proceeding is commenced before the Professional Conduct Committee and the term of office of any person sitting on the Committee expires, that person remains part of the Committee until the proceeding is concluded.
44 (1) Where the Complaints Committee refers a matter to the Professional Conduct Committee the Registrar shall, within thirty days from the date of the referral, fix a date, time and place for holding a hearing, which must commence not later than ninety days from the date of the referral by the Complaints Committee, or such later date as the respondent and the College may agree or the Professional Conduct Committee may order following an opportunity for submissions from both parties as to such date.
(2) A notice of hearing, containing such information as required by the regulations, shall be forwarded by the Registrar to the respondent and the complainant at least thirty days prior to the hearing.
46 Where the Complaints Committee refers a matter to the Professional Conduct Committee, the College, before the commencement of a hearing by the Professional Conduct Committee, may enter into a settlement proposal with the respondent, which proposal shall be dealt with in accordance with the regulations.
(4) Notwithstanding subsection (3), the Professional Conduct Committee may, in its discretion, allow the introduction of evidence that would be otherwise inadmissible under subsection (3) and may make directions it considers necessary to ensure that a party is not prejudiced.
49 (1) Where the Professional Conduct Committee finds professional misconduct, conduct unbecoming the profession, incompetence or incapacity, the Committee shall dispose of the matter or matters in accordance with the regulations.
(2) Where the Professional Conduct Committee has revoked the registration of a member, the Committee shall determine whether the member is entitled to apply for re-instatement of registration or whether the revocation is final.
(3) Where the Professional Conduct Committee determines that a member whose registration has been revoked may apply for re-instatement, the Committee shall determine the time when the member may apply for re-instatement, which cannot be earlier than two years from the date of the Committee's decision.
(3) The Re-instatement Committee shall, in the circumstances set out in this Act and the regulations, review applications for re-instatement of registration and licence, and shall perform such other duties as set out in this Act and the regulations.
(6) Where a member's licence has been re-instated pursuant to this Section, the Re-instatement Committee, in its discretion, shall determine whether publication of the re-instatement is required in the interest of the public.
(7) The Re-instatement Committee has all the powers conferred by this Act and the regulations in the discharge of its functions as well as the powers, privileges and immunities of a commissioner appointed pursuant to the Public Inquiries Act.
(10) Notwithstanding subsection (9), the Re-instatement Committee may, in its discretion, allow the introduction of evidence that is otherwise inadmissible under subsection (9) and may make directions it considers necessary to ensure that a party is not prejudiced.
52 (1) Where the period of suspension of a member has expired, or the conditions imposed on the member have been satisfied, or the restrictions imposed on the member have been removed, the Registrar shall restore the licence to the member in the form it existed prior to the imposition of the suspension, conditions or restrictions, if the member otherwise meets the criteria for the issuing of a licence, but where the licence has expired, the member shall pay the prescribed fee for renewal of the licence before its re-issue.
(b) where registering bodies in other Canadian counselling-therapy jurisdictions had previously been informed of the suspension, conditions or restrictions, notify such registering bodies of the lifting of such suspension, conditions or restrictions; and
53 (1) For the purpose of the execution of their duties under this Act, the College or any committee of the College, may retain such legal or other assistance as the College or the committee thinks necessary or proper.
(2) The notice of appeal must be filed at the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal and served upon the other party not later than thirty days after service of the decision of the Professional Conduct Committee.
(3) The record on appeal from the findings of the Professional Conduct Committee consists of a copy of the transcript of the proceedings, the decision of the Committee and the evidence before the Committee certified by the Chair of the Committee.
(4) The Civil Procedure Rules, governing appeals from the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, that are not inconsistent with this Act, apply mutatis mutandis to appeals to the Court of Appeal pursuant to this Section.
(5) Where a matter is appealed to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal pursuant to this Section, the decision of the Professional Conduct Committee takes effect immediately unless the Court of Appeal grants a stay of any order made pursuant to this Act where, in its discretion, it deems fit.
55 Nothing in this Act prevents the incorporation of a counselling therapist, but every counselling therapist continues to be personally responsible for compliance with this Act and the regulations notwithstanding any such incorporation.
56 All members who carry on the practice of counselling therapy as, by, through or on behalf of an incorporated entity are liable in respect of acts or omissions done or omitted to be done by them in the course of their practice to the same extent and in the same manner as if the practice of counselling therapy were carried on by them as an individual or a partnership carrying on the practice of the profession.
57 Where a member is engaged in the practice of counselling therapy as an incorporated entity, the existence of the incorporated entity does not affect, modify or limit any law or standard applicable to the confidential or ethical relationship between a counselling therapist and a counsellee.
59 Where the conduct of a counselling therapist is the subject of a complaint, investigation or inquiry and the counselling therapist was an officer, director, shareholder or employee of an incorporated entity at the time the conduct occurred, any power of inspection, investigation or inquiry that may be exercised in respect of the counselling therapist or the counselling therapist's records may be exercised in respect of the incorporated entity or its records.
60 (1) Every incorporated entity engaged in the practice of counselling therapy that contravenes this Act or the regulations is guilty of an offence and liable to the same penalties as any person who is guilty of an offence pursuant to this Act.
62 Any fine or cost ordered to be paid pursuant to this Act or the regulations is a debt due to the College recoverable by civil action, in addition to any other remedy available to the College for non payment of a fine or cost.
63 (1) No action for damages or other relief lies against the College, the Board, the persons on the Board, committees or subcommittees of the College or the Board, or the persons on the committees or subcommittees, or the Registrar, officers, agents or employees of the College,
(3) No member of the College, the Board, committees or subcommittees of the College or the Board, or any officer, agent, or employee thereof is personally liable for any of the debts or liabilities of the College unless such person expressly agrees to be liable.
64 Notwithstanding this Act or the regulations, for a period of one year following the coming into force of this Act, every person who, on the coming into force of this Act, has received the certification "Registered Counselling Therapist" from the Association and has practised in the Province in the previous twenty four months, is deemed eligible for registration with the College, and is eligible for the issuing of a licence upon payment of the appropriate fee and the submission of the appropriate application.
65 Whenever for any reason a quorum of members of any committee may not be available for a meeting or hearing, the Board may, for the purpose of such meeting or hearing, appoint to the committee such additional members as are needed for a quorum.
66 Nothing in this Act prohibits the carrying out of the practice of counselling therapy by any person who does not take or use the designation "Counselling Therapist", "Registered Counselling Therapist", "Registered Counselling Therapist Candidate" or "RCT", or any derivation or abbreviation thereof, or describes the person's activities as "counselling therapy" in any advertisement or publication, including business cards, websites or signage.