Governments regulate professionals to ensure that the public interest is served. Regulation can be thought of as a form of consumer protection. For the most part, in Canada, the regulation of the trades and professions falls under provincial authority.
To understand how regulation in health care came about, it is important to understand the problem regulation was intended to address. In the provision of health service there is an imbalance of knowledge and power between the patient and the services provider. This exposes the patient to a degree of risk, as most lay persons are unable to completely or objectively assess the qualifications, competency, or fitness to practice of a health care provider. The use of regulation has become a widely accepted policy instrument to ensure protection of the public from unqualified incompetent or unsafe health care providers. Regulation achieves this through the establishment and enforcement of professional practice and education standards.
S. Aldridge/Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences 39 (2008) 4-10
Newfoundland and Labrador
In 2010, the Newfoundland and Labrador Health Professions Act, created governing bodies, called Colleges to regulate the activities of several health professions including Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology.
As the regulator, the Newfoundland and Labrador Council of Health Professionals (NLCHP) regulates the practice of each health profession including monitoring compliance with qualifications for registration and continuing education. The NLCHP assists persons in exercising their rights under the Act, including responding to allegations or complaints about a health professional’s practice. The NLCHP promotes relations with the colleges, health professionals and the public as well as promotes inter-professional collaboration among the colleges.
NLCHP has developed a quality assurance program to assure quality care is provided and the public interest is protected when:
- Practitioners are competent and ethical
- Practice is based on current relevant knowledge
The College of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Newfoundland and Labrador (CASLP-NL) establishes standards of care in the public interest including:
- Entry to practice standards
- Practice standards
- A code of ethics
- Professional misconduct regulations
- Continuing competence measures
Together, the NLCHP and the colleges, ensure that there are competent health professionals providing quality care to the public.
As regulated professionals, audiologists and speech-language pathologists are required by law to deliver competent, ethical services and are accountable to CASLP-NL when a complaint is made about a member’s conduct.
CASLP-NL has no jurisdiction over unregulated health care service providers, or support personnel such as Communication Disorders Assistants or Audiometric technicians (or other health care workers choosing to target speech, language, or communication goals for a client).
Supportive personnel should be used as an adjunct, rather than an alternative to registered professionals, to ensure that the public is receiving quality care. When supervised by a registered Audiologist or Speech-Language Pathologist, supportive personnel are delegated specific tasks, but the legal and ethical responsibility to the client/patient, for that service provided or omitted, remains the full responsibility of the registered professional. CASLP-NL supports the use of supportive personnel under the direct supervision of registered professionals.
Only registered members of CASLP-NL are legally permitted to use titles such as Speech-Language Pathologist or Audiologist.
In order to provide public protection and to prevent any misrepresentation to the public, the Health Professionals Act states that a person shall not use a name, title, description or abbreviation in a manner that expresses or implies that she or he is a member of a college unless the person is a registered member of that college.
(This information was adapted from the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologist of Ontario, 2021)