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Self-management and self-regulation

The underlying philosophy of the Professional Code is a balance of powers in which the government is able to mobilize the expertise of professionals in their field of practice and reasonably draw on this expertise to formulate and ensure compliance with standards designed to ensure proper professional practice.

This translates into a regulatory and monitoring model for professions based on the principle of self-management by the regulated professionals. They administer the supervisory and monitoring body for their field, in other words, their professional order. Professional self-management, however, is conducted according to the format and manner set out in the Professional Code and subjected to government oversight.

Orders delegated by the government to supervise a profession, have the power to certify, prohibit, investigate and impose penalties. This delegation of power by the government is a politically sensitive issue. The same is true of the monopolistic impact, economically speaking, of exclusive practice or utilization of a title that comes under professional supervision. It was important, then, that the government, ultimately accountable to the public for the powers that it delegates, adopt means by which to monitor and intervene in the event of abusive or inappropriate exercise of these powers by the professional orders.

The powers of the orders are: admission to professional practice; monitoring and investigation of professional practice; and punishment of infractions of laws and regulations. The outside control of the orders established by the Professional Code brought new actors into the system, for example, the Office des professions du Québec, the Québec Interprofessional Council, and directors appointed by the Office des professions du Québec to sit on the orders’ boards of directors. These outside actors exercise a control function consisting of a range of coordinating, transparency and accountability measures.

Transparency and accountability measures have been improved over the years in tandem with Québec society’s evolving expectations and values. Examples of this are the opening of disciplinary council hearings to the public in 1988, and, in 1994, the review of disciplinary procedures, notably, by setting up a review committee in each order to examine the decision of a syndic to lodge (or not lodge) a disciplinary complaint.