On October 1, 2014, the Honourable Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care reached out to all regulatory health colleges, urging them to make transparency a key priority in their strategic plans and to take concrete measures to improve transparency in all college processes. In our response to the Minister, the College of Opticians advised that we are committed to strengthening existing processes and implementing new measures to support transparency, one of our four core values.
Parallel to the Minister's directive, a group of health regulatory colleges known as AGRE (Advisory Group of Regulatory Excellence) began developing a multi-stage policy recommendation initiative aimed at strengthening public confidence in self-regulation. The group developed a set of eight transparency principles, which were adopted by our Council in December 2014:
- 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.
- Providing more information to the public has benefits, including improved patient choice and increased accountability for regulators.
- 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.
- For information to be helpful to the public, it must:
- be timely, easy to find, and easy to understand
- include context and explanation
- 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 members and processes should be similar.