Q. Why is OPPI seeking a by-law update?
A. OPPI is seeking an updated complaints and discipline process. An updated process allows OPPI to set a framework that enhances and improves the effectiveness of the current practice. This update will serve the planning profession, OPPI membership and the general public well, and brings OPPI’s process in line with other provincial regulators. In addition, this update includes feedback received by OPPI’s current Discipline Committee members. By updating the by-law, when OPPI seeks professional regulation legislation in the future, our process reflects what is within current regulatory legislation.
Q. What is the process for amending the OPPI by-laws?
A. According to the current OPPI by-law and OPPI policies, Council directs staff to draft the necessary amendments to the by-law with the assistance of legal counsel, and those amendments are then reviewed and approved by OPPI’s Governance and Nominating Committee. They are then reviewed and approved by OPPI Council, and then put to the OPPI membership for a confirmation vote.
Q. What is the proposed complaints and discipline process modelled on?
A. The proposed complaints and discipline process is based on the same process previously contained in the professional regulation legislation OPPI pursued in Bill 122
and Bill 64
(see sections 29-39 in each piece of legislation).
This process has been used in other professional regulation legislation recently passed in Ontario for accountants in 2010 and 2017, and human resources professionals in 2013. To see similar examples in other regulated professionals, please click on the following links:
Q. How will the new process work?
A. Complaints received by OPPI about members will be directed to the new Complaints Committee. These complaints will be reviewed and investigated by the Committee. Generally, the complaint against a member will be shared with the member, and the Committee will invite a response as part of their investigation.
The Complaints Committee will decide to:
Take no action against a member
Require the member to appear before the Complaints Committee to receive a caution
Refer the matter to the Discipline Committee or take other action
If a matter is referred to the Discipline Committee, a prehearing conference may be held where an impartial member would review the case with OPPI’s legal counsel, the member and his/her legal counsel. A settlement might be agreed to, or preparations and scheduling for the hearing would be carried out.
A discipline hearing is a formal proceeding where the panel acts, with legal advice and assistance, as the adjudicators for the matter brought before it. Each side will present evidence (may include documents and witnesses) and legal arguments in support of their position. The panel, in their role as adjudicators, will render a decision based on the evidence presented to them.
Q. What does it mean to receive a caution by the Complaints Committee?
A. A caution is a meeting between the Complaints Committee and member where they discuss instances where the member may have failed to meet best practices. It does not involve a hearing or evidence, and does not involve a formal finding of misconduct.
Q. What is “other action” that the Complaints Committee could take?
A. The Complaints Committee could agree with the member that an appropriate resolution of the complaint would be if the member took a certain course, for instance. Whereas the Discipline Committee has the power, if the member is found guilty of professional misconduct, to order the member to take the course.
Q. How does OPPI become responsible for a complaint?
A. Once the Complaints Committee has determined that a matter is serious enough to warrant being referred to the Discipline Committee, then OPPI itself takes over as the “party” to the proceeding. The original complainant might be a witness called during the hearing, but OPPI would take on the responsibility of the complaint and could continue the case even without the complainant’s co-operation to ensure the public interest is protected.
Q. Are Discipline Committee hearings open to the public?
A. Professional discipline hearings may be open to the public. If some compelling reason can be given why the hearing should not be open to the public, the Discipline Committee panel has the power to make that order.
Q. Does the Discipline Committee have the final say?
A. Under the Ontario Professional Planners Institute Act
that currently governs OPPI, the parties to a Discipline Committee proceeding have the right to request OPPI Council to reconsider any process or action undertaken by OPPI, with respect to that Discipline Committee proceeding. The member also has the right to appeal the decision of OPPI Council to Divisional Court.
Q. Is the by-law update happening because of previous attempts to get professional regulation legislation passed?
A. No. If new legislation had been achieved, a more extensive by-law update would have been required. Despite not achieving passage of this legislation, OPPI is seeking to update its by-law to enhance our Complaints and Discipline process, aligning them with the current practices of other regulated professions and based on feedback received by OPPI’s current Discipline Committee members.
Q. How will this proposed update impact members?
A. Most OPPI members demonstrate their integrity every day, ensuring they conduct themselves in accordance with OPPI’s Professional Code of Practice and may never experience the complaints and discipline process.
OPPI receives very few complaints each year relative to the size of our membership; however, OPPI members, as part of maintaining membership, can be subject to the disciplinary process. As a regulated profession acting in the public interest, OPPI must maintain a formal complaints and discipline process and ensure it is updated to meet the needs of members and protect the public interest. The changes being proposed will not affect members unless a complaint is filed against them.
With an updated by-law, OPPI will split its Complaints and Discipline process and create two new committees – a Complaints Committee and a Discipline Committee.
In addition, this update will allow:
OPPI to initiate a complaint to ensure the public interest is protected
OPPI to be responsible for any complaint, including potential prosecution and seeking legal advice
Decisions to be made available for members and the public
Currently, OPPI has a single Discipline Committee which receives, investigates, and (in rare cases) holds formal hearings regarding complaints. With an updated by-law, OPPI will become like other professional regulators, and have two separate committees – a Complaints Committee to screen and handle complaints, and decide whether they should be referred to the Discipline Committee that may hold a formal hearing and render a decision.
Each group will be made up of RPPs and public members to ensure decisions continue to be made in the public interest and in the interest of the planning profession.
Q. Will members get to vote on this by-law update?
A. Yes. Practicing Candidate, Full and Retired Members will receive an electronic ballot they can fill out to vote on the proposed amendments. Voting on the proposed by-law amendments will begin on Thursday September 6, 2018 and will close on Thursday, October 4, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. The results will be announced at OPPI’s AGM in October.
The electronic ballot will be sent to the email address listed in members’ profiles from a third-party vendor, Simply Voting. Members are asked to ensure Simply Voting is included in their safe senders list, and to check your junk email and spam inboxes just in case. Emails from Simply Voting will originate from firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. How will OPPI share this information?
A. The proposed complaints and discipline process would make information available to the public in keeping with best practices regarding transparency. Because new information will be made available, including discipline hearing information, referrals and findings of professional misconduct by the Discipline Committee and summaries of decisions, OPPI will determine the most appropriate methods of making this information public.