Issue link: http://oct-oeeo.uberflip.com/i/783423
31 March 2017 | Professionally Speaking PHOTOS: MONKEY BUSINESS/ADOBE STOCK KEEPING STUDENTS SAFE LANDMARK LEGISLATION PASSES TO EFFECT GREATER EFFICIENCY AND TRANSPARENCY IN THE COLLEGE'S INVESTIGATION AND HEARINGS PRACTICES. Professionally Speaking: In the College's brief to the standing committee on Bill 37, you stressed the notions of maintaining transparency while improv- ing efficiency. These were themes in the original report from former Justice Patrick LeSage, whom the College commissioned in 2011 to provide an independent review of its investigation and hearings practices. What are you most pleased with in this updated legislation? Why? Michael Salvatori: What I'm most pleased with is that we now have an official articulation of the College's commitment to enhance transparen- cy and efficiency to serve the public interest and keep students safe. The bill represents our commitment over the last few years to improve. It's a public — and official — statement that's embedded in our Act that we commit- ted to making based on the advice we received from Justice LeSage and on recommendations from our Council. We depend on the government to amend our regulations and our Act, and, in most cases, it acts on the recommenda- tions we make. The bill represents what we asked for. We sought the changes based on the independent review and then requested that the Minister of Education make the changes. PS: How does the Protecting Students Act better serve the public interest? MS: If we look at some of the elements in the bill, we can see assurances that chil- dren are safe in the care of teachers and, in the rare circumstances when a teacher doesn't meet the standards of the profes- sion, there is recourse. For example, if a member is found to have sexually abused a student, there will be a mandatory revo- cation — a panel no longer has discretion regarding the order or sanction. I think that is a strong statement to the public. In cases where a member may wish to reinstate after a hearing resulting in a revocation, the bill increases the period from one year to five years before they can apply; again this is in circumstances of the most egregious of allegations. If we look at the transparency aspect, we have defined a number of our processes in the Act for greater clarity, and we've added timelines. For example, we will try our best to dispose of a complaint within 120 days, and we've specified the time a member has to respond to a complaint and the timelines to receive information from other bodies. These are all elements that, in their entirety, are good public confidence pieces. PS: What is the tangible evidence of change that people can see? MS: There will be mandatory identi- fication of a member's name in all the summaries of our discipline decisions. So the answer to what would the public see in our magazine, which is much more publicly accessible than a bill or an Act, is that a member will be identified in all of those cases and that there will be no L ast December, the provincial government passed Bill 37, the Protecting Students Act, bringing long-sought changes into law to protect students and to make the College's investigation and hearings processes and practices more efficient and open. Professionally Speaking sat down with College CEO and Registrar Michael Salvatori, OCT, to explore what the new changes in law mean to the public and to College members.