On March 1, 2012, the Ontario legislature passed second reading of Bill 28, the Registered Human Resources Professionals Act, 2011. Bill 28 is a Private Members’ Bill that was first introduced on December 7, 2011 by Liberal MPP David Zimmer. It was co-sponsored by Christine Elliott of the Progressive Conservative Party and Michael Prue of the NDP.

If passed, Bill 28 would replace the existing Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario Act, 1990, which establishes the Human Resources Professional Association (“HRPA”) as a self-regulating professional association. Currently, the HRPA grants the Certified Human Resources Professional (“CHRP”) designation, sets standards of practice, and addresses professional misconduct, incapacity or competence issues. According to Ms. Elliott, the existing legislation is outdated, due to the fact that business practices, economic conditions, workforce demographics and employment/labour law have all become more complex and interrelated. Bill 28 would give the HRPA broader powers of self-regulation, and render it a true professional regulatory body much like those governing lawyers and accountants.

Key features of Bill 28 include the following:

  • It does not affect or interfere with the right of an yone who is not a member of HRPA to practice in the field of human resources. Human resources professionals will not be forced to join HRPA or to obtain any designations. Similarly, employers will be at liberty to hire whomever they wish for their human resources needs.
  • It establishes several professional designations that only HRPA members may be authorized to use, including Registered Human Resources Professional, Associate Certified Human Resources Professional, Certified Human Resources Professional, Senior Human Resources Professional and Certified Industrial Relations Counsellor. Misuse of these professional designations will constitute an offence carrying a fine of up to $25,000.00.
  • It provides for the establishment of a complaints, discipline and appeal process, including the power to award costs against a member who is the subject of the proceedings.
  • The HRPA will have broad discipline powers in the event a member is found guilty of professional misconduct, including the power to:
    • revoke or suspend membership;
    • impose restrictions or conditions on a member’s right to practice in the human resources field;
    • issue a reprimand;
    • direct a member to take rehabilitative measures, such as professional development, counseling or treatment; and
    • impose a fine.
  • The HRPA will be empowered to investigate and determine whether a member is physically or mentally incapable of meeting his or her obligations under the legislation. In the event incapacity is found, the HRPA may suspend membership or impose restrictions or conditions on a member’s right to practice in the human resources field.
  • It provides for investigations and inspections of members’ human resources practices, including the power to enter and inspect business premises, question individuals, require the production of relevant documents, and remove documents for the purpose of making copies. Obstruction of an investigation or inspection would constitute an offence carrying a fine of up to $25,000 on conviction.
  • It provides for custodianship of a member’s human resources practice in certain circumstances, including where the member’s membership has been revoked or suspended, the member has died or disappeared, the member is inca pacitated, or the member has neglected or abandoned his or her practice.  

The HRPA has lobbied for new legislation for the past couple of years. It has indicated that Bill 28 “will help raise the credibility of the HR profession and support the premium that designated members command in the workplace” and “will better safeguard the public interest by enhancing its regulatory and oversight powers to ensure that [HRPA members’] workplaces are fully compliant with existing and future provincial workplace legislation”.

Bill 28 has been referred to the Standing Committee on General Government for review. It will not become law unless, and until, it passes third reading and receives royal assent. While most Private Members’ Bills do not become law, Bill 28 has support from all three parties in the legislature and may therefore have more promise. We will monitor the progress of the Bill and keep you apprised of its status.