Mission: protection of the public
Because its principal function is the protection of the public, the professional system is guided by the requirements and values of Québec society, expressed in particular by the fundamental rights enshrined in the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. These rights may be summarized as follows:
- the right to physical and psychological integrity
- the rights to professional secrecy and privacy
- the right to safeguard personal property
Both by their language and by their exercise these rights place individuals at the centre of decisions that concern them. The concept of protection of the public is thus interpreted in light of these fundamental rights and the role of the person affected by them.
The government and the protection of the public
The government employs diverse means to prevent prejudice or injuries and ensure effective and equitable compensation for prejudice that is sustained. One example would be the opportunity of a wronged person to prosecute for civil or contractual liability. Other examples are the adoption of product manufacturing or consumer protection standards.
Still, in some cases, individuals might find themselves at a particular disadvantage in complex situations or ones involving incompetence or dishonesty. Even though they are responsible for their decisions in terms of exercising their fundamental rights, it can sometimes be very difficult to assess the appropriateness and quality of services provided by others without the benefit of training in the field in question. Often, people will simply trust in the expertise of another person when it comes to making these decisions.
Faced with these situations and the serious potential for prejudice, the government prefers to adopt a preventive approach that consists in verifying the competence and integrity of individuals offering services or controlling product quality. This is why, with regard to the practice of 54 professions, the government has instituted a legislative and regulatory framework to protect the public by preventing injury, which is applied by specialists in these fields based on the principle of self-management. These 54 professions, the 46 professional orders that oversee their practice, and the legislative and regulatory framework governing them form the basis of the professional system.