The control of professional practice has been a concern since ancient times. The oldest examples of professional standards in professions date back 1,750 years.
In North America, under the impact of colonization, models for supervising the professions were inspired by those then existing in Europe. The first royal declaration on notarial practice was made in 1717. The first regulation concerning the practice of medicine was issued in 1755.
Professional associations made their first appearance in the middle of the 19th century. These associations of notaries, physicians and lawyers came to symbolize professionalism.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Québec underwent a period of intense social change and new professional fields came into being. Many groups of people working in the same field applied to the government to be legally constituted as professional corporations.
In 1970, the Castonguay-Nepveu Commission tabled its report on the Québec health system. A section of the report entitled “The Professions and Society” questioned the organization of the health professions and those in other fields.
In 1973, on the recommendation of the Castonguay-Nepveu Commission, Québec’s National Assembly adopted the Professional Code, and simultaneously passed or amended 21 laws governing the professions.
The Professional Code sets out the principal mission of the professional system, which is to ensure the protection of the public with respect to certain activities that pose the risk of injury to the physical, psychological, and patrimonial integrity of individuals using the services of the professionals who practise those activities. In addition, the Professional Code ensures legislative and regulatory consistency by instituting shared organizational principles among all of the professional orders.