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Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act

BILL NO. 126

(as introduced)

2nd Session, 60th General Assembly
Nova Scotia
57 Elizabeth II, 2008



Government Bill



Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act



The Honourable Mark Parent
Minister of Labour and Workforce Development



First Reading: April 24, 2008

Second Reading:

Third Reading:

An Act Respecting Fair Access
to Regulated Professions

WHEREAS the health, safety and quality of life of people in Nova Scotia depend on services provided by a wide range of professionals;

AND WHEREAS regulating bodies are responsible for protecting the public interest by ensuring high standards of professional practice;

AND WHEREAS the registration practices of regulating bodies should be clear and well-defined and ensure that all applicants for registration receive fair consideration;

AND WHEREAS Nova Scotia is committed to an informed, fair and systematic approach to improving professional recognition processes for skilled individuals educated outside Canada;

THEREFORE be it enacted by the Governor and Assembly as follows:

1 This Act may be cited as the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act.

2 In this Act,

(a) "Agreement on Internal Trade" means the agreement between the provincial and territorial governments of Canada that came into force on July 1, 1995, to facilitate the free movement of persons, goods, services and investments throughout Canada;

(b) "internal review or appeal" means a rehearing, reconsideration, review or appeal or other process provided by a regulating body in respect of a registration decision and regardless of the terminology used to describe the process;

(c) "internal review or appeal decision" means a decision in an internal review or appeal;

(d) "internationally educated individual" means an individual who has been educated in a country other than Canada to practise a regulated profession and who has applied for, or who intends to apply for, registration in that regulated profession in the Province;

(e) "Minister" means the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development;

(f) "personal information" has the same meaning as in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act;

(g) "record" means a record as defined in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act;

(h) "registration" means the granting of membership, with or without conditions, in a regulated profession whether by registration, licensure, admission, enrolment or other means without regard to the terminology used by the regulating body;

(i) "registration decision" means, without regard to the terminology used by a regulating body, a decision to

(i) grant registration to an applicant,

(ii) propose that an applicant not be granted registration,

(iii) not grant registration to an applicant, or

(iv) grant registration to an applicant subject to conditions;

(j) "regulated profession" means a profession regulated by a regulating body;

(k) "regulating body" means a body listed in Schedule A to this Act or a person listed in Schedule B to this Act;

(l) "regulations" means the regulations made under this Act unless the context indicates otherwise.

3 This Act applies to a regulated profession as of the date set out in the regulations for the regulating body for that profession.

4 The Minister is responsible for the administration of this Act.

FAIR REGISTRATION PRACTICES CODE

5 This Section and Sections 6 to 12 may be referred to as the Fair Registration Practices Code.

6 A regulating body has a duty to provide registration practices that are transparent, objective, impartial and fair.

7 A regulating body shall provide information in a clear and understandable form to individuals, including internationally educated individuals, applying or intending to apply for registration by the regulating body and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, shall provide

(a) information about its registration practices and internal review or appeal processes;

(b) information about the length of time that the registration process for that regulating body usually takes;

(c) objective requirements for registration by the regulating body, including a description of the criteria used to assess whether the requirements have been met, together with a statement of which requirements may be satisfied through alternatives that are acceptable to the regulating body;

(d) information about any support the regulating body provides to applicants during the registration process, or other available supports of which the regulating body is aware; and

(e) information setting out any fees for registrations.

8 A regulating body shall

(a) ensure that it makes registration decisions within a reasonable time;

(b) provide written responses to applicants within a reasonable time;

(c) provide written reasons to applicants within a reasonable time respecting all registration decisions and internal review or appeal decisions including, where practical, information respecting measures or programs that may be available to assist unsuccessful applicants in obtaining registration at a later date.

9 (1) A regulating body shall make information publicly available on what documentation of qualifications must accompany an application and what alternatives to the documentation may be acceptable to the regulating body if an applicant cannot obtain the required documentation for reasons beyond the applicant's control.

(2) Where a regulating body makes its own assessment of qualifications, the regulating body shall do so in a manner that is transparent, objective, impartial and fair and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, in a manner that is compliant with the labour mobility provisions of the Agreement on Internal Trade.

(3) Where a regulating body relies on a third party to assess qualifications, the regulating body shall take reasonable measures to ensure that the third party makes the assessment in a manner that is transparent, objective, impartial and fair and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, in a manner that is compliant with the labour mobility provisions of the Agreement on Internal Trade.

10 (1) A regulating body shall provide an internal review of or appeal from its registration decisions within a reasonable time.

(2) A regulating body shall provide an applicant for registration an opportunity to make submissions with respect to any internal review or appeal.

(3) A regulating body may specify whether submissions in respect of an internal review or appeal are to be submitted orally, in writing or by electronic means.

(4) A regulating body shall inform an applicant of any rights the applicant may have to request a further review of, or appeal from, a decision and provide information about the procedures and time frames for a review or appeal.

(5) No one who acted as a decision-maker in respect of a registration decision may act as a decision-maker in an internal review or appeal in respect of that registration decision.

11 A regulating body shall ensure that individuals assessing qualifications and making registration decisions or internal review or appeal decisions have received training that includes

(a) training on how to hold hearings; and

(b) training in any special considerations that may apply in the assessment of applications and the process for applying those considerations.

12 (1) Upon the written request of an applicant for registration by a regulating body, the regulating body shall provide the applicant with access to records held by it that are related to the application.

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), a regulating body may refuse access to a record if

(a) the record or any information in the record is subject to a legal privilege that restricts disclosure of the record or the information, as the case may be;

(b) another enactment, an Act or regulation of Canada or a court order or order of a quasi-judicial tribunal prohibits disclosure of the record or any information in the record in the circumstances;

(c) granting the access could reasonably be expected to lead to the identification of a person who provided information in the record to the regulating body explicitly or implicitly in confidence, and the regulating body considers it appropriate in the circumstances that the identity of the person be kept confidential;

(d) granting the access could reasonably be expected to threaten or harm the mental or physical health or the safety of another person; or

(e) granting the access could negatively affect public safety or could undermine the integrity of the registration process.

(3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), an applicant has a right of access to that part of a record that can reasonably be severed from the part to which the applicant does not have a right of access by reason of that subsection.

(4) A regulating body shall establish a process under which requests for access to records will be considered.

(5) A regulating body may charge an applicant a fee for making records available if it first gives the applicant an estimate of the fee.

(6) A fee for making records available must not exceed the amount prescribed by the regulations or, where no amount is prescribed, the amount of reasonable cost recovery.

(7) A regulating body may waive the payment of all or any part of a fee that an applicant is required to pay under subsection (5) if, in its opinion, it is fair and equitable to do so.

REVIEW OFFICER

13 A Review Officer and any other employees required for administration of this Act shall be appointed pursuant to the Civil Service Act.

14 (1) The Review Officer shall carry out the powers and duties assigned to the Review Officer under this Act and the regulations and any other duties assigned by the Minister, including the following:

(a) assessment of the registration practices of regulating bodies based on their obligations under this Act and the regulations;

(b) the specification of times when registration practices must be reviewed, times when fair registration practices reports must be filed, the form of all reports and certificates required under the Act and the regulations and the information that those reports and certificates must contain;

(c) the monitoring of third parties relied on by regulating bodies to assess the qualifications of individuals applying for registration by a regulating body to help ensure that their assessments are based on the obligations of regulating bodies under this Act and the regulations;

(d) the provision of information and advice to regulating bodies and to professions that may be identified as regulating bodies to assist them in understanding how to comply with the requirements of this Act and the regulations;

(e) the provision of advice to regulating bodies, government agencies, community agencies, colleges and universities, third parties relied on by regulating bodies to assess qualifications and others as the Minister may direct respecting matters under this Act and the regulations;

(f) the provision of advice to departments of Government with respect to matters under this Act and the regulations that affect a department or a regulating body that falls under the jurisdiction of the department;

(g) the provision of advice to the Minister on matters related to the administration of this Act;

(h) reporting to the Minister on registration practises related to internationally educated individuals and their registration by regulating bodies and to other ministers of the Crown respecting those same issues as they relate to regulating bodies that fall under the jurisdiction of their respective departments; and

(i) the performance of such other functions as may be assigned by the Governor in Council.

(2) A matter specified under clause (1)(b) may be general or specific in its application and may be limited as to time and place.

(3) The Review Officer shall give notice to regulating bodies of all matters specified under clause (1)(b) and the notice may be given in the manner the Review Officer considers appropriate.

15 In carrying out any duties under this Act, the Review Officer may

(a) create classes of regulatory bodies based on capacity to comply with this Act and the degree of public risk involved in the practising of those regulated professions;

(b) impose different requirements, conditions or restrictions on or in respect of any class.

16 The Review Officer shall prepare and submit to the Minister an annual report on the implementation and effectiveness of this Act and the regulations in helping to ensure that the registration practices of regulating bodies are transparent, objective, impartial and fair.

17 (1) Every regulating body shall undertake a review of its registration practices at times specified by the Review Officer to ensure that the registration practices are transparent, objective, impartial and fair and shall file a report on the results with the Review Officer annually or at such other times as the Review Officer may specify or at such times as may be specified in the regulations.

(2) A review must include an analysis of

(a) the extent to which the requirements for registration are necessary for or relevant to the practice of the regulated profession;

(b) the efficiency and timeliness of decision-making;

(c) the reasonableness of the fees charged by the regulating body in respect of registrations;

(d) a report on the registration of internationally educated individuals;

(e) the extent to which registration practices are compliant with the labour mobility provisions of the Agreement on Internal Trade; and

(f) any other matter specified in the regulations.

18 (1) The Review Officer may require that a regulating body provide the Review Officer with reports or information relating to the regulating body's compliance with this Act and the regulations and the regulating body shall prepare and file the reports with, or provide the information to, the Review Officer.

(2) Reports and information required under subsection (1) are in addition to the reports required under Section 17.

19 (1) A regulating body shall file all reports required to be filed by it under this Act or the regulations with the Review Officer by the dates specified in the regulations or by the Review Officer.

(2) A regulating body shall make reports filed under subsection (1) available to the public.

20 (1) Reports or other documents required by this Act or the regulations shall be in the form and contain the information specified by the Review Officer or as may be specified in the regulations.

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), no report or other document prepared and submitted by any person for the purposes of this Act or the regulations may contain personal information.

21 (1) A report required under Section 17 or 18 must include a statement certifying that all the information required to be provided in the report has been provided and that the information is accurate.

(2) A person with authority to sign on behalf of the regulating body shall sign the statement required by subsection (1).

22 (1) Where the Review Officer concludes that a regulating body has contravened this Act or the regulations, the Review Officer may make such orders requiring compliance with this Act or the regulations as the Review Officer considers appropriate and the order may require the regulating body to do or to refrain from doing such things as are specified in the order.

(2) No order under subsection (1) may require a regulating body to make, amend or revoke any regulation that it has the authority to make under an Act that governs the regulating body, but the Review Officer may

(a) recommend to the regulating body that it make, amend or revoke the regulation; and

(b) recommend to the minister of the Crown responsible for the regulated profession that the minister exercise any power or powers that the minister has to request or require the regulating body to make, amend or revoke the regulation.

23 (1) Before making an order under Section 22, the Review Officer shall give notice of the proposed order to the regulating body that is the subject of the proposed order and shall give the regulating body an opportunity to make written submissions with respect to the proposed order in accordance with this Section.

(2) A notice given under subsection (1) must inform the regulating body of

(a) the nature of the proposed order;

(b) the steps that the regulating body must take in order to comply with the proposed order;

(c) the right of the regulating body to make written submissions to the Review Officer in respect of the proposed order; and

(d) the time within which the submission must be made.

(3) A regulating body that wishes to make submissions to the Review Officer to explain an alleged contravention of the Act or the regulations shall provide its submissions in writing to the Review Officer within thirty days after the day it receives notice of the proposed order or within such longer period of time as may be specified in the notice.

(4) The Review Officer may review an order made under Section 22 and vary or rescind it and, where the Review Officer proposes to vary an order, subsections (1) and (3) apply.

24 (1) A regulating body that is the subject of an order under Section 22 may appeal the order to the Supreme Court with the leave of the court and in accordance with the rules of the court.

(2) An appeal under this Section may be made on questions of law and the court may affirm, reverse or vary the order of the Review Officer.

25 (1) A regulating body that

(a) fails to file a report required under Section 17 or 18;

(b) furnishes false or misleading information in a fair registration practices report or other report or record filed with the Review Officer under this Act or otherwise provides false or misleading information to the Review Officer;

(c) fails to comply with an order made by the Review Officer under this Act;

(d) obstructs the Review Officer or a person employed by the Review Officer in exercising powers or performing duties under this Act; or

(e) contravenes subsection (2),

is guilty of an offence.

(2) No regulating body shall intimidate, coerce, penalize or discriminate against another person because that person

(a) has co-operated or may co-operate with the Review Officer or person employed by the Review Officer in exercising powers or performing duties under this Act; or

(b) has provided, or may provide, records or other information in the course of an activity or proceeding under this Act.

(3) Every regulating body that is guilty of an offence under this Act is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars.

26 Where a provision of this Act or a regulation conflicts with a provision of another enactment, the provision of this Act or the regulation prevails to the extent of the conflict.

27 (1) No proceeding may be commenced against the Review Officer or anyone employed by the Review Officer for any act done or omitted in good faith in the execution or intended execution of his or her duties under this Act.

(2) Neither the Review Officer nor anyone employed by the Review Officer is a competent or compellable witness in a civil proceeding not provided for in this Act in connection with anything done under this Act.

28 The Review Officer may not become involved in a registration decision or an internal review or appeal decision on behalf of an applicant or potential applicant for registration.

29 (1) The Governor in Council may make regulations

(a) respecting processes for recognizing the qualifications of internationally educated individuals;

(b) respecting any matters necessary for ensuring compliance with the labour mobility provisions of the Agreement on Internal Trade;

(c) amending the Schedules to this Act in any way, including

(i) identifying bodies or persons as regulating bodies and setting out the date on which this Act first applies to such a regulating body, and

(ii) removing any regulating body from the Schedules to this Act;

(d) specifying in greater detail

(i) the records and other information to be provided by a regulating body under this Act, and

(ii) the things to be provided by or performed by a regulating body under this Act;

(e) requiring regulating bodies to conduct, or permit the conduct of, audits of their registration practices, including specifying audit standards, the scope of audits, the persons or classes of persons authorized to conduct audits, and reporting requirements for audits;

(f) establishing time limits for compliance with any provision of this Act or the regulations;

(g) governing reports or other documents to be provided to the Review Officer for the purpose of this Act, including their form, the information to be provided in them, their manner of preparation, making them available to the public and requiring regulating bodies to provide such reports or other documents;

(h) governing information to be provided to the Review Officer and requiring persons to provide that information;

(i) respecting the functions, duties and powers of the Review Officer;

(j) creating different classes of regulating bodies and imposing different requirements, conditions or restrictions on or in respect of any class for the purposes of the administration of this Act and the regulations;

(k) exempting any regulating body from any provision of this Act or the regulations;

(l) defining any word or expression used but not defined in this Act;

(m) prescribing or respecting any matter that this Act refers to as a matter that the regulations may prescribe, specify, designate, set out or otherwise deal with;

(n) respecting any transitional matters necessary for the effective implementation of this Act and the regulations;

(o) respecting any matter the Governor in Council considers necessary or advisable to carry out effectively the intent and purpose of this Act.

(2) Where a provision of a regulation conflicts with a matter specified by the Review Officer or with a decision of the Review Officer, the regulation prevails.

(3) A regulation may be general or specific in its application and may be limited as to time and place.

(4) The exercise by the Governor in Council of the authority contained in subsection (1) is regulations within the meaning of the Regulations Act.

30 This Act comes into force on such day as the Governor in Council orders and declares by proclamation.

SCHEDULE A

Association of Interior Designers of Nova Scotia

Association of Nova Scotia Land Surveyors

Association of Professional Engineers of the Province of Nova Scotia

Association of Professional Geoscientists of Nova Scotia

Board of Registration of Embalmers and Funeral Directors

Certified General Accountants Association of Nova Scotia

College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia

College of Occupational Therapists of Nova Scotia

College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia

College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia

Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia

Denturist Licensing Board

Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Association of Architects

Nova Scotia Association of Medical Radiation Technologists

Nova Scotia Association of Real Estate Appraisers

Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers

Nova Scotia Barristers' Society

Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology

Nova Scotia College of Chiropractors

Nova Scotia College of Dispensing Opticians

Nova Scotia College of Medical Laboratory Technologists

Nova Scotia College of Optometrists

Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists

Nova Scotia College of Physiotherapists

Nova Scotia College of Respiratory Therapists

Nova Scotia Dental Technicians Association

Nova Scotia Dietetic Association

Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists

Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission

Nova Scotia Registered Barbers Association

Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association

Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia

Public Accountants Board of the Province of Nova Scotia

Registered Professional Foresters Association of Nova Scotia

Society of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists of Nova Scotia

Society of Management Accountants of Nova Scotia

SCHEDULE B

Minister of Education for the purpose of issuance of teachers' certificates or teachers' permits

Minister of Health for the purpose of registration of paramedics and emergency medical dispatchers

Minister of Natural Resources for the purpose of issuance of licences and permits under the Wildlife Act

Registrar under the Direct Sellers' Regulation Act for the purpose of granting permits to direct sellers of hearing aids

Superintendent of Insurance for the purpose of issuance of licenses to carry on the business of insurance under the Insurance Act

Director of Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications


This page and its contents published by the Office of the Legislative Counsel, Nova Scotia House of Assembly, and © 2008 Crown in right of Nova Scotia. Created April 24, 2008. Send comments to legc.office@gov.ns.ca.