At the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO), we are committed to enhancing appropriate transparency in our processes, decision-making and information disclosure. We ensure that members of the public have a clear understanding of the role of our College and access to sufficient information (using the College’s public register) to make informed healthcare choices.
The public’s growing call for organizations, particularly those with a public interest mandate, to be more open with their decisions and processes has initiated a province-wide project around the transparency practices of health regulatory Colleges in Ontario.
This project was formalized on October 4, 2014, when the Honourable Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Eric Hoskins, wrote to all Regulated Health Colleges to request information on transparency and accountability initiatives within each College – effectively mandating transparency as a top priority across the province’s regulatory Colleges. To read the complete letter, please .
In response, CMTO has adopted transparency as one of three, long-term goals within its 2016-2018 Strategic Plan.
Over the past two years, transparency has been discussed through the Federation of Health Regulatory Colleges. The dialogue has been led by a working group of six Colleges (the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario; the College of Nurses of Ontario; the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario; the Ontario College of Pharmacists; the College of Physiotherapist of Ontario; and the College of Optometrists of Ontario) known as the Advisory Group for Regulatory Excellence (AGRE).
Consistent with many other regulated health Colleges, CMTO adopted the following transparency principles, developed by AGRE. The following principles will guide CMTO’s future decisions about publicly available information:
- The public needs access to appropriate information in order to trust that this system of self-regulation works effectively.
- Providing more information to the public has benefits, including improved client choice and increased accountability for regulators.
- This information needs to be relevant, credible and accurate.
- In order for information to be helpful to the public, it must be timely, easy to find and understand, and provide context and explanation to enhance understanding.
- Certain regulatory processes intended to improve competence may lead to better outcomes for the public if they happen confidentially.
- Transparency discussions should balance the principles of public protection and accountability, with fairness and privacy.
- The greater the potential risk to the public, the more important transparency becomes.
- Information available from Colleges about registrants and processes should be similar.
Transparency Action Plan: Phase One and Two Completed
As 2015 came to a close, we were pleased to report the completion of the first two phases of our transparency work. We are now looking forward to a new phase of improvements in partnership with Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and other health regulatory Colleges.
Phase One began in December 2014 when Council agreed to make additional information about discipline publicly available, ideally within 24 hours of the decision, including the date of referral, the status of the matter before the Discipline Committee and a summary of the allegations. (A copy of the Notice of Hearing is also available upon request).
Phase Two took place in 2015, following consultation with registrants and other stakeholders. It resulted in additional information about registrants being made publicly available, including:
- Disclosure of former legal names, though only those former legal names under which the registrant had practised as a Registered Massage Therapists (RMT). This information is needed to ensure that the public, or other stakeholders such as insurance companies, can easily identify an RMT. If a registrant feels that the disclosure of a former name may jeopardize their safety, then they should advise the Registrar (firstname.lastname@example.org), who has the authority to withhold information from the public register in certain limited circumstances:
- 1a.) Decisions of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) that result in a caution (written or oral), or a Specified Continuing Education or Remediation Program (SCERP), which includes a monitoring component. It’s important to note, registrants only receive cautions or SCERPs when their conduct has been assessed as ‘Moderate’ or ‘High Risk.’ This information is posted to the public register upon completion of the investigation.
- 1b.) Referral to the Discipline or Fitness to Practise Committee.
- Findings of professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity in other jurisdictions.
- Criminal findings/convictions and bail conditions. Other, non-criminal findings, such as minor traffic offences, will not be posted. Information about criminal findings will be removed from the public register if the finding and penalty are overturned, or if the registrant is pardoned, unless the registrant wishes the information to be retained on the public register.
To assist registrants and members of the public in understanding the terms used by the College, a glossary of terms has been added to the public register.
As of January 1, 2016, in addition to posting information to CMTO’s website, the College now also posts discipline decisions on the Canadian Legal Information Institute’s website.
Future work in this area will build on CMTO’s existing initiatives with the goal of enhancing transparency and accountability in decision-making, processes and information disclosure, and to assist clients of Massage Therapy in making informed decisions about their healthcare.