Regulatory College Elections

Regulatory College Council

A council runs every regulatory college. The purpose of the council is to ensure that the college fulfils its purpose of ensuring public safety in its profession. They must also ensure that the college is acting in accordance with the regulatory framework in the province such as the Health Professions Act.

Please note that while the term “board of directors” is sometimes used (ie in British Columbia), this page will use the common term “council”. 

Purpose and Responsibilities of the Council

According to the British Columbia Health Professions Act, the council “must govern, control, and administer the affairs of its college in accordance with this Act, the regulations, and the bylaws”. Given that the professions in Canada are self-regulating, they are responsible for ensuring that certain professional standards are being met. Should the college fail to do so, they may lose the privilege of self-regulation.

The college must decide what the criteria for membership are, and what qualifications an individual needs should they wish to practice a certain profession. An annual report regarding the college's activities must also be compiled for the minister.

The council consists of both elected and appointed members, who are placed into committees (more below). Said committees normally meet 4-6 times per year, and meetings are open to the public. Council members are not paid but do receive compensation for days in which they have meetings.

Start now >

Composition and Structure of the Council

As aforementioned, the council consists of both elected and non-elected (appointed members). There is also an executive committee in charge of the council. While the exact structure and composition of the council varies by province and college, there tend to be certain similarities:

  • President
    • The President is the chair of all general and council meetings.
    • Normally not elected by the college at large but is instead elected among the council members.
  • The Vice President
    • The Vice-President can perform presidential duties when in the President’s absence.
    • As with the President, the Vice-President is elected by other council members.
  • Treasurer
    • The Treasurer is in charge of advising the board on the financial needs of the college and recommending financial policies.
    • Normally elected by council members.
  • Elected Members
    • The elected members are practicing professionals who are elected by their fellow college members in their district.
    • Once elected, members do not represent their district but rather the profession as a whole.
    • The minimum number of elected members depends on the profession and province.
  • Appointed members
    • These are public members who are appointed by the minister in order to bring a different perspective to council meetings.
    • The minimum number varies by province.

The total number of the board varies and is dependent on the size of the college. There is no legislation limiting term length for council members, but three years is the average. Term limits are in place as well, meaning that a member can only hold a position for so many consecutive terms.  Members usually have to wait between one and three years before applying for re-election once they have reached the term limit. 

Members of the council are then appointed to committees that meet 4-6 times per year. The number of committees and their purpose depends on the college, but Discipline, Finance and Registration committees are common examples. Most colleges will also have an electoral committee that is responsible for managing elections.

Online elections can save your election committee time, money and stress. We can also combine different voting methods with online elections.

Learn more about online voting in regulatory colleges here. 

Every regulatory college has to plan elections, but the process can be complicated. POLYAS has developed a handy checklist to help you keep on top of things. Click here to download it for free! 

Council Elections

Every year, a college will hold elections for the elected members of the council. Each province is divided into multiple districts with each district having one or more elected representatives. Members are only allowed to vote or run in the district in which they are registered. If a member wishes to run for election, they must submit a nomination form a certain number of weeks before the election. Often, they will be required to have other members nominate them. The electoral committee, which consists of council members, will then determine if the prospective nominee is eligible.

As mentioned above, the average term for an elected member is three years. However, this does not mean council elections are only held every three years. The elections are staggered, and normally only about one third of the districts hold their election in a given year. The month in which the election takes place varies greatly, as does the duration of the election.

While there has been a growing shift to online voting, many colleges still organize council elections via post. Not only is this time consuming, but printing and sending out thousands of letters is costly as well. Why not organize your next college election entirely online with POLYAS? Learn more by contacting our election experts here.