To help protect the public, we are committed to transparency. This means providing Ontarians with the tools to make informed decisions and ensuring that our own decision-making processes are easily understood. The College and its Council have adopted the Transparency Principles developed by the Advisory Group for Regulatory Excellence (AGRE), a working group of health regulators, as the framework for its decisions.
The Transparency Principles in action
It is important that we don’t only commit to transparency, but also show what we are doing. The information below describes the AGRE Transparency Principles, how we have put them into action and the ongoing priorities for the future.
1. The mandate of regulators is public protection and safety. The public needs access to appropriate information in order to trust that this system of self-regulation works effectively.
In action: We have taken steps to provide the public with access to more relevant information. These have improved the content on the Register of Naturopathic Doctors, including the addition of relevant criminal charges and an extensive history of the Registrant. It now also provides more information on the nature of complaints and their outcomes in a comprehensive summary.
In the future: We will continue to consider ways to provide more information about Registrants’ participation in College activities, including the Quality Assurance program as well as applications and their outcomes. Hopefully, future legislation will allow more information to be made available.
2. Providing more information to the public has benefits, including improved patient choice and increased accountability for regulators.
In action: Additions to the Register of NDs have improved patient choice, such as colour coding to help patients recognise Registrants from whom they cannot seek treatment or who may be presently involved in regulatory matters. Information about compliance and discipline outcomes allows the public to hold the College accountable.
In the future: The Colleges, along with the Ontario Ministry of Health, are working to implement a measurement framework that will let Ontarians know how well they are doing their job. We continue to consider ways that more information can be made regularly available to the public.
3. Any information provided should enhance the public’s ability to make decisions or hold the regulator accountable. This information needs to be relevant, credible and accurate.
In action: We remain committed to providing the public with information about what decisions might be made and why certain decisions are chosen over others. This is accomplished by publishing decision-making flow charts, greater use of graphics and visual references, and releasing the briefing materials that we receive.
4. In order for information to be helpful to the public, it must be a) timely, easy to find and understand and b) include context and explanation.
In action: We are working diligently to improve how we meet this principle. One example is this website, launched in November 2020. Every element from design to wording and presentation has been developed for timeliness and ease of understanding. We will continue to provide context and explanation for our work, which will be written in plain language for clarity.
A second example is our Annual Report, which in addition to providing statistical information offers context about its relevance as well as how to interpret it.
5. Certain regulatory processes intended to improve competence may lead to better outcomes for the public if they happen confidentially.
In action: Some regulatory processes are kept confidential, such as Registrant outcomes from the Quality Assurance Program. The QA Program is designed to help NDs and other health professionals maintain and improve competency and the confidentiality around it (both within the College and to the public) ensures full and honest participation.
In the future: While individual participation should remain confidential, overall program information, such as the number of peer and practice assessments, the outcomes from those assessments, should be made available to improve public confidence. Hopefully future legislation will allow this to occur.
6. Transparency discussions should balance the principles of public protection and accountability, with fairness and privacy
In action: Public protection and accountability, both institutionally and individually, require increased transparency. However, this must be balanced with fairness and privacy. So while we do release information about outcomes from complaints, we keep them anonymous to protect the privacy of Registrants. Investigative work and submissions are also kept confidential to ensure fairness to the Registrant and those who file complaints.
In the future: Balancing accountability and transparency against privacy and fairness will remain a challenge.
7. The greater the potential risk to the public, the more important transparency becomes.
In action: While under normal circumstances, a complaint against a Registrant is confidential under the legislation, we have used exceptions to inform the public of investigations when the matter is serious and the potential conduct carries a risk of harm to the public.
8. Information available from Colleges about Registrants and processes should be similar.
In Action: We collaborate with other Colleges, both in small groups and through the Health Professions Regulators of Ontario, a formal alliance of health regulators with the goal of improving patient safety and public protection.
Public confidence and trust are key to the future of regulation. The College is committed to building that confidence and trust one step at a time, and we strongly believe this process must be continued well into the future. The work of transparency is never finished.