Editor’s note: The following text is from the official Hansard Records on the second reading of Bill 138, an Act respecting the Human Resources Professionals Association. The bill passed second reading on March 3, 2011. The private members’ bill was introduced by Liberal MPP David Zimmer on Nov. 23, 2010. For more information, see Ontario's Bill 138 passes second reading.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Pursuant to standing order 98, the honourable member has 12 minutes for his presentation.
Mr. David Zimmer: I’m very proud to have brought this private member’s bill forward. What I propose to do is to speak for a couple of minutes on the purpose, why I brought the bill forward; a couple of minutes outlining the structure of the bill, how the bill will operate legislatively; and, thirdly, a few comments on the support that this bill has developed throughout the province.
On November 23, 2010, Bill 138 was introduced into the Legislature. The act would replace the existing Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario Act of 1990. As you are aware, HRPA regulates the human resource profession in Ontario and issues the certified human resources professional designation, which is the national standard of excellence in human resource management.
HRPA is committed to advancing the human resources profession to ensure that HR is a full partner in developing and executing organizational strategy in the creation of equitable workplaces. HRPA members have long sought recognition as true professionals. As business practices, economic conditions, workforce composition and employee expectations all become more complex and interrelated, so have the demands on the professionalism of HRPA.
The function of HR professionals now has many of the aspects of a profession, including a representative professional organization, a published code of ethics and professional conduct, benchmark performance standards to ensure professional competence, skill development requirements and, finally, a growing public perception of HR as a profession as a result of the HRPA’s efforts to promote HR’s essential strategic role as a critical business partner. It is vital that HRPA members have a vehicle to evolve and deliver credible HR management that will create and foster success in Ontario workplaces. I believe this, and I want to see HRPA and its members evolve into a strong, credible tier-1 profession. This is why I brought forward the private member’s bill.
All Ontarians are touched by work. It gives us dignity and purpose. It sustains our families. It creates wealth and growth for the province. But how happy, satisfied and safe we are at work depends largely on how organizations implement the various laws that govern the Ontario workplace. The 20,000 members of the Human Resources Professionals Association, or HRPA, are committed to building fair and equitable workplaces for Ontario workers.
Human resource professionals are the bridge between the employee and the employer, ensuring that both parties are aware of their rights and responsibilities under the province’s workplace rules and regulations. One way the association has proven this is by voluntarily adopting FARPA, the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act, 2006, as a schedule 1 signatory as testimony to its commitment to the transparent, objective, impartial and fair employment treatment and career opportunities of all Ontarians.
Individually, when a human resource professional joins the association, they agree to abide by a professional code of conduct that commits them to professional competence, legal requirements, dignity in the workplace, balancing interests between employee and employer, confidentiality, conflict-of-interest resolution and professional growth and support of other professions.
Here’s a fact, members, that illustrates the professionalism of HRPA members. Last year, HRPA carried out a small research project into the relationship between HRPA membership and the conviction rate under the Employment Standards Act. Between October 2008 and January 2010, there were 489 convictions for violations of the act. The essential finding was that of these 489 ESA violations, none could be linked to an HRPA member. Although there are many explanations that might explain the findings, it is clear that the presence of HRPA members is linked to fewer workplace issues.
This study is compelling evidence that the regulation of HR professionals is clearly in the public interest, and there’s plenty of additional evidence that points to the need for more robust regulation of the human resources profession. Although human resources professionals are employed by organizations, their actions impact all employees. Employees can’t choose the HR practitioner they deal with, and there is an imbalance of power between HR professionals and employees. From this perspective, there is simply too much risk for the public good for HR professionals not to be regulated.
For instance, consider confidentiality. Compared to any other professional group in organizations, including accountants and so on, HR professionals have more access to confidential and very personal information about the employee—and the employer, in addition. They know who’s on stress leave. They know who’s battling an addiction and who’s dealing with health issues. We count on their confidentiality to keep personal employee matters private.
As professionals who oversee compensation, there’s also a financial impact from an HR practitioner’s choices. Given that salaries are usually the biggest line items in an organization’s budget, given all the evidence that shows that HR practices have a big impact on an organization’s bottom line, an incompetent or an unethical HR professional can do just as much, if not more, financial damage to an organization as a CA, a CGA, a CMA, a lawyer or any other professional. The potential for incompetent or incapacitated HR professionals to do harm to employees, to employers, to clients and to society is at least as great as it is for accountants.
While regulating HR professionals is clearly in the interests of employees, Bill 138 has a lot to offer Ontario business, too. As business practices, economic conditions, workforce demographics and employee expectations all become more complex, HR professionals are at the centre of this rapid change. HRPA and its members make significant contributions to the productivity and success of the business community and organizations of all types. HRPA members possess a high level of professionalism and provide human capital management know-how that creates huge value for organizations that employ them.
There’s a reason why I have been making comparisons with Ontario’s three main accounting bodies. The proposed Registered Human Resources Professionals Act shares some similarities with the Certified Management Accountants Act. The idea is not that HR professionals are just like accountants, but that they are like accountants in terms of the kind of regulatory legislation that would best fit the profession. Like accountants, human resources professionals practise in a world of business. They include a mix of practitioners that work as employees and as independent consultants. They perform roles that are mission-critical for organizations. They perform a role that requires high personal integrity. It’s for these reasons that the act is very similar to the accountancy act, and it makes sense.
Let me speak briefly, outlining how the legislation works. First of all, Bill 138 does not introduce regulation to the HR profession in Ontario. This was, in fact, accomplished 20 years ago by the human resources professionals act, 1990. Most of the powers included in Bill 138 already exist in the current legislation. Since receiving the 1990 act, HRPA has regulated the HR profession by setting standards of practice to protect the public interest. In sum, its regulatory framework seeks to ensure that HR professionals are competent in their work and behave in an ethical manner.
HRPA determines the right to set standards on who may enter the profession, the right to set standards of practice for those working in the profession, the right to create rules for when and how members may be removed from the profession, the power to regulate the practice of members, the power to establish professional liability insurance requirements, the power to establish requirements for membership and certification, and the power to discipline members.
Bill 138 would provide more regulatory tools for HRPA to better protect the public. This is acknowledged when the public becomes aware of the fact that there are trained professionals in the field who follow appropriate standards. The continuing professional development of its members provides reassurance that the public and people are treated fairly and legally by practitioners. The public will feel confident that its interests are being protected.
There are also other checks and balances for the public and the members of HRPA. Conduct proceedings would need to be up to the standards of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act. HRPA would be required to abide by the fair registration practices code. The application of powers is subject to the bylaws, which must be ratified by the general membership of the association.
Another distinction would be that as a tier 1 profession, the board would include three individuals who are not members of the profession or a self-regulating human resources body and who are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor. These board members would, in effect, represent the public interest and would, along with the board’s elected members, be charged with implementing the regulatory regime.
To conclude, let me say a couple of words about the support the bill has garnered. HRPA sought an independent expert opinion on the bill from a distinguished lawyer. His name is Mr. Steineke. He believes that if Bill 138 is passed, it will create a modern professional regulation statute that addresses many of the gaps found in current private statutes. Overall provisions are similar to those found in other statutes regulating professions. If anything, the provisions provide greater safeguards.
Bill 138 has numerous advantages for the public and its members. Bill 138 has received strong support from the business community and allied professional groups, including the Retail Council of Canada, the Canadian employee regulation council, the Certified General Accountants and many other organizations that feel strongly about the bill. CGA Ontario president Doug Brooks wrote the Premier last summer in support of the bill.
Ultimately, protection of the public is what this bill is all about. That’s why I brought this bill forward. That’s why I encourage my colleagues to support this bill.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?
Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: I’m very pleased to join the debate today. What we’re doing here, of course, is looking at Bill 138, the Registered Human Resources Professionals Act, which was introduced on November 23, 2010. If this legislation were to be passed, it would replace the existing Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario Act, 1990.
We’re talking about an association that I believe currently has about 20,000 members and became a self-regulating professional association under statutory authority granted by the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario Act, 1990, and since then has developed in scope, sophistication and responsibility to match the remarkable development and influence of the human resources profession.
I’m going to be making some remarks on behalf of my colleague the member for Whitby–Oshawa, who wanted to speak today but wasn’t able to be here. Before I commence with her remarks, I want to just put on the record that, personally, I have received emails both in support of and in opposition to Bill 138. I would say to you that the numbers are probably about equal.
It’s important to know that obviously, as a member of the opposition, it’s my obligation to make sure that all of the points of view regarding legislation are placed on the table. Here’s an example of one letter I received, an email: “I urge you to vote against this proposed bill when it comes up for second reading.” The person goes on to state, as many of them did, that they have two primary concerns: Number one is the content of the bill and number two is the process that has been undertaken in communicating this bill to the membership and the lack of consultation. It’s important that those concerns, which have been shared, I know, with other members of this Legislature, be put on the public record.
I will go now to deal with the comments that were given to me by my colleague the member for Whitby–Oshawa. She states the following:
She is pleased to support Bill 138. She feels it has much to offer Ontario business. She goes on to say, “Quite simply, Bill 138 is good for employers in the province of Ontario.
“Ontario businesses are in the midst of great change as business practices, economic conditions and workforce demographics and labour law all become more complex and interrelated. And HR professionals are at the centre of this rapid change.
“HRPA members make huge contributions to the success and productivity of the business community and organizations of all types. And, as regulated professionals, HRPA members specifically possess a high level of professionalism and human capital management knowledge that creates enormous value for the organizations that employ them.”
She continues by saying, “HR professionals provide value by:
“(1) identifying workforce trends and forecast changes before they happen;
“(2) discovering potential problems before they materialize and adversely impact the organization;
“(3) identifying key talent for retention and leadership development; and
“(4) forecasting changes in human capital resources—within the organization and in the changing economic environment.
“To sum up their key role in Ontario organizations, HR professionals ‘put the right people in the right place at the right time.’”
She then goes on to say: “A regulated HR profession has big upsides for Ontario business. Regulated HR professionals commit to career-long learning that keeps them at the leading edge of human capital management—and human resources, or people, as any business person knows, is an organization’s greatest competitive advantage.
“They also commit to an HR-specific code of professional conduct. These rules provide assurance to both employers and employees that there are clear guidelines defining the professional conduct of all HRPA members. The rules cover areas including:
“—dignity in the workplace;
“—conflict of interest; and
“—professional growth and support of other professionals.
“Bill 138 will prevent the occasions where employers and clients of a practitioner try to pressure the practitioner to cut corners or do something that is unethical. It makes an enormous difference when a statutory regulatory body is able to provide information to the practitioner (or even, in some cases, the employer or the client directly) that such conduct is not permitted.
“Preventing that conduct will save employers money and resources in the long run.
“Some have argued that Bill 138 will be a cost burden to employers.” My colleague goes on to say, “This is false.
“In regard to cost burden to members and their employers, the thing to keep in mind is that the membership in HRPA is voluntary and the CHRP designation is voluntary. Nothing forces HR professionals to be members of the association and nothing forces HR professionals to obtain the CHRP designation. It is a fact that, on the whole, designated accountants command better remuneration than bookkeepers. Is that because employers and clients are forced to employ designated accountants? No, it is because the marketplace puts more value on designated accountants than bookkeepers.
“In the 20 years it has been in existence, the CHRP has been very successful in demonstrating its value. If anything, Bill 138 will increase the value of the CHRP designation.
“Regulated HR professionals ensure employees are full partners in this process by acting as advocate and change mentors. With their knowledge about and advocacy of people, a regulated HR professional provides expertise in creating work environments in which people are motivated and fully contributing members.
“HR professionals are now often seen as ‘champions of change’ as organizations continually assess and seek to increase their professional effectiveness. They know how to link this change to the strategic needs of the organization while getting employees onside.”
She wanted to make some specific comments at this point in time about human resource professionals being change agents with respect to the employment of people with disabilities. She says: “There are many people in Ontario who are able to work but are unable to find work because of attitudes about their disability.
“This issue was recently dealt with by the all-party Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions. Recommendation number 15 called upon a new agency, Mental Health and Addictions Ontario, to work with employers and community-based service providers on strategies to increase employment opportunities and supports for people with mental illnesses and addictions. The report noted that mental health and addictions issues in the workplace are a tremendous direct and indirect cost to the Canadian economy, but stated that: ‘Employers with an understanding of mental health and addictions can provide an environment within which employees dealing with those issues are more likely to succeed and thrive. That understanding includes knowing how to hire prospective employees, how to accommodate the needs of both new and existing workers, and how to promote a healthy workplace. There could be an untapped supply of skilled workers waiting for the opportunity to enter or re-enter the job market with the appropriate supports.
“‘Training and employment supports (e.g., resumé writing , job interview techniques and job placements) ease reintegration into society and help in finding and retaining meaningful work. A job can do much to improve a person’s financial situation, lessen their dependence on social assistance and, most importantly, bolster self-esteem at a critical point on the road to recovery.’
“So,” she says, “It’s clear that human resource professionals are critical for the success of this important transformation in both the workplace and in our society.”
I would conclude by quoting again from the comments she has left with me: “A regulated HR professional with the strength of the profession as a backdrop can assume the role of objective investigator in instances of management-employee discord or appealing management decisions or disciplining inappropriate employee behaviour.
“Between HRPA members’ commitment to professional excellence, their unique role as a bridge between employees and employers, and their key business role in getting the right people in the right place at the right time, I think,” says the member for Whitby–Oshawa, “Bill 138 is a win-win for everyone—government, workers and Ontario’s employers.”
Those are the comments that I was asked to put on the record by the member for Whitby–Oshawa. I would conclude simply by referring to the point I made when I began. That was that I had received, and I know other people had received, emails expressing strong support for the bill. But of course, we also did receive emails that had grave reservations about the bill moving forward at the pace that it was without adequate consultation.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: It’s always a privilege to rise in this House to represent my constituents and to represent constituents in this particular industry. I have to say that, along with the member from Kitchener–Waterloo, I’ve received the same responses from my constituents and constituents in the industry, both for and against this bill. At first blush, this seems like a no-brainer. It looks like the bill that we just passed for the engineering association, somewhat along the same lines: a private bill that is now going to be made public and pass publicly.
What I’d like to do is I’m going to go over the arguments for, and I’m going to go over some of the argument against, which I don’t think we’ve heard yet in this debate. Suffice to say, it’s a private members’ bill, which is to say that, unless it comes back as a government bill—touch wood—it doesn’t have a lot of chance of passing in this session. What we’re suggesting as New Democrats is that this bill be heard, that you have hearings, that you have deputations, because clearly there are voices who would like to speak to this bill that are far more informed about the field of HR than we are in this House.
Let’s start with the arguments for, most of which you’ve already heard, so I’m going to be brief on those—not because they may not have merit but because we’ve already heard them.
This bill, as I said, makes a private act into a public act. It addresses some of the gaps that exist in the current act and brings the regulatory context up to date. It allows HR professionals to be on the same tier as other professions, notably accountants. It increases, perhaps, the value and career opportunities for those in the profession. It gives added weight to the CHRP designation. The regulatory powers extend only to the members; as has been pointed out, nothing in Bill 138 forces somebody into these regulatory acts unless they choose to do so.
Also, it gives some protection. Professional regulation protects the public. When professionals in independent practice go bankrupt, they can leave clients high and dry, hence the necessity for not only the designations and organization in this field but in all fields. You’ve heard those expanded upon.
Now I want to take a little bit of the House’s time to go over the arguments that I’ve heard, also from constituents who are HR professionals who are concerned, about what some of the problems are. Certainly, many of them came to me and spoke about how this bill might be detrimental to their profession and to the companies and organizations they represent.
Their concerns circulate, mainly and mostly, around one key issue, and that is the lack of transparency and consultation. My goodness, if there’s one thing we’ve all learned in this House with our own constituents, in our own parties and in our own lives, it’s that when you want to make changes, you want to get many stakeholders together, have informed discussion, be transparent, give everybody a chance to speak, and then you move—not before. Clearly, it seems to me, from what I have received from constituents, that that hasn’t happened here, hence another reason why we need these hearings and deputations.
Again, what I’ve heard from them is this: There’s been inadequate debate among their members. They believe that the HRPAO has failed to engage, consult and listen to its members. Of the 29 chapter presidents and the board of directors who represent the 18,000-plus members, they say that the 29 chapter presidents and the board of directors were never consulted on the specifics of this bill at any time and were never asked for their input. That’s a problem.
It’s also a problem—and this was brought to our attention—that 1,000 members have petitioned against the bill. When you have 18,000 members and one in 18 petitions against the bill, I think we need to listen to that voice. I think we need to have that voice at the table in discussions, pure and simple.
Notably, the membership is asking that the bill not be rushed. Even those dissenting, I have to say, are not asking that this bill not pass in one day, but they are saying, “Let’s have transparency and discussion.”
The bill allows membership to be regulated. Almost 20% of the membership is made up of students. This is one concern raised by constituents: Do students really need to be regulated?
It’s argued by the HRPA that professional regulation protects the public; for example, in bankruptcy cases. But again, there has been no data brought forward that has shown that it could be harmed or not harmed. Again, further consultation is needed.
Also—and this is something that really sticks in my mind; this raises a red flag to me. The Society for Human Resource Management currently has a legal dispute with HRPAO over the use of one of the designations: “senior human resources professional.” So there’s another body out there that has problems with some of the designations and what constitutes a designation. Again, this is far from being like the bill we just passed so handily for the engineers, where there seemed to be real accord on what was necessary. Clearly, there’s not real accord.
To make matters more complicated, listen to this—and those who are listening at home, many, many more than are in this place today, will ring with this, I’m sure, even if they know nothing about the human resources profession. On November 29, the HRPAO board of directors held a meeting, and the Toronto board agreed to fully comply with the new chapter bylaws proposed by HRPAO. Subsequent to this agreement, the HRPAO board of directors and CEO demanded that they sign a document that would take away their citizens’ rights to express their concerns about this bill to any government official or to their members.
Now, I’m not a lawyer, but it sounds illegal to me. It certainly sounds coercive to me and it certainly sounds like a cause of concern within the context of this organization.
This is a problem. Any member who refused to sign would be removed from their position immediately. Carmine Domanico, one of the directors, refused to sign and was subsequently removed from his position. The other 11 board members refused to sign and were removed from their positions. The charges have yet to be proved.
Friends, colleagues, we’ve got some problems here. Before we weigh in as a legislative body, saying that we want to give even an imprimatur to the existing powers, or in a public way—remember, we’re doing this in a public way—to really weigh in and give them potentially more power than they already have, I suspect that we need to hear from some of those concerned in at least that case, give them their day in court and their day before us to hear from them. It makes me and it makes us, in the New Democratic Party, a little loath to jump in and say, “Oh, this is a wonderful thing,” if all of these problems are out there. Luckily the legislative process allows for this and, luckily, because it is a private member’s bill and not a government bill, it allows for this.
I wanted to take the few remaining moments I have and explain to the public, for whom this place is often full of arcane rules and regulations that don’t make a lot of sense, exactly what will happen from here, one thinks. As a private member’s bill, it may or may not get committee time. As a private member’s bill, it may or may not have hearings. As a private member’s bill, its chances of actually being passed are pretty remote, even for a Liberal government backbencher.
For those who have concerns on either side, either they think that this should pass immediately, or those who have concerns about it on the other side and think it should never pass, you will have your day in court. You will have your day, I hope, to stand up and witness to your concerns before committee before this ever comes to fruition. I want to assure both sides about that and assure both sides that it probably won’t happen this time around.
Even more to the point, you’ll have a chance to voice your opinion to your candidates, if you are in the human resources field, leading up to the next election on October 6. I would suspect and suggest that if you are an HR professional and you feel strongly one way or the other about this bill, that’s exactly what you should do: You should talk to your member of provincial Parliament or candidates who are running against them. Make your case heard. Be at all-candidates meetings; be very clear about what you think so that they have some basis upon which to judge and so that, dependent on who’s in government and who’s sitting over there after October 6—it may very well look very different—that case will then be brought forward, and certainly with more nuance than we’re seeing this afternoon.
“No fear. It’s not going to happen overnight” is basically what I’m saying—or maybe “Fears, it’s not going to happen overnight,” depending on what side you’re on on this issue. Either way, I think it’s a good thing, because from what we’ve heard in my office, we need further debate on this. From what I’ve heard in my office, we need to hear both sides on this and we need to at least allow those voices to be heard. Again, it’s not our area of expertise. In a case like that, it’s even more important to hear the experts from both sides weigh in.
So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to kind of sit this one out as New Democrats. The government has power; I’m sure it will pass. But I just want to assure people that it doesn’t mean much. If it passes in this House this afternoon, it doesn’t mean much. What it does mean is that everyone out there who’s opposed to this—and everyone who’s in favour of it, for that matter—needs to let their voice be heard by their MPPs, needs to demand that it go no further and certainly that it not come back as a government bill, because then we’re in real trouble if you’re opposed to this bill. If it goes forward anywhere, it should go to committee and have deputations and hearings. That’s what we’re proposing. That’s what we need.
That’s what we have to say on this. It’s good to hear all voices. I hope I’ve been able to do them some justice. As I say, we’re sitting on our hands on this one, letting it go. Government is going to weigh in and make it pass.
I certainly suggest that if you have concerns about this bill, speak directly to the corner office. We know that nothing happens in this place without the say-so of Dalton McGuinty, the Premier. We all know that; we just don’t say it too often. If you have real concerns about this, please send your emails to him, make your concerns heard and demand that either way—I think, to be fair to either side of this issue, we need committee hearings, and we need not to rush on implementing anything that is certainly seen as being this controversial in its own field. Good luck, everyone.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?
Mr. Khalil Ramal: I’m pleased and honoured to enter the debate on Bill 138, the Registered Human Resources Professionals Act, 2011.
I’m going to be different from the member opposite. I’m going to be more positive. I’m going to look at the glass as half full instead of half empty because—you know what?—in the end, it’s a private member’s bill. I want to commend the member from Willowdale for always bringing such important issues to the House to be debated. He knows, as a lawyer, that a lot of technical issues have to be fixed, have to be enhanced to support and serve the people of Ontario.
He’s asking in this bill to replace the private act of 1990 with a public bill, Bill 138. Like the member opposite, I have received a lot of messages from many different constituents too—some with and some against.
As you know and the member knows very well, no bill goes right away and becomes a law. The bill has to be debated in this place, and then, if it passes second reading, it goes to the committee. When it goes to the committee, we’re going to listen to a lot of stakeholders from across the province, a lot of interested people, a lot of people for and against who are going to voice their concern. We’ve got to listen to them in order to enhance the bill and make it applicable for all the people of Ontario.
But in the end, my colleague from Willowdale brought such an important issue, because the human resources professionals are more than 20,000 members across Ontario. They deal with at least two million employees across the province, almost 800,000 businesses, and they know exactly what’s going on in those businesses. They know about the employers, they know about the employees, and they know all the secrets. They know about every detail. I think it’s in our own interest as a government to protect the people of Ontario, to regulate this industry and to make professional organizations and also enhance the ability to protect the citizens of this province. That’s what my colleague is trying to do: bring some kind of enhancement to an act passed almost 20 or 21 years ago. As you know, the technology is enhanced, life has changed, and many different professional systems came in our lives like computer systems, iPads, many different pieces of technology. So I think it’s very important to enhance it and make it public instead of keeping it private, for the sake of the protection of the people of Ontario.
To the member opposite, I know that the people have a right to voice their concern, but to make it a political bill, to make it an election issue, as you mentioned, and the people, when you knock on the doors, you have to ask them if they support this or not support this—I think the people of Ontario are thinking about bigger things and important things. They’re especially thinking about the economy, creating more jobs, green energy, if they have lights on or not, how they can cope with the future and find a job for the future generations, how we can enhance our education system and how we can keep our health care in the public domain and accessible for all.
Also, this bill affects every profession: health care, education, companies, factories and many places that use human resources. Those human resources department professionals determine what kind of jobs we can create. They oversee the number of jobs that we have and the quality of the jobs. They know details about all the employees, their qualifications, and their problems, if they have any. That’s why they are most able to have access to private information about millions of people in Ontario.
I want to commend my colleague for bringing such an important issue to us to be debated in this place. I hope this bill passes and will go to committee and the committee, hopefully, will discuss this bill more and invite all stakeholders and people who have any concerns about this issue to come forward, voice their concerns, advise us on how to fix it and make it applicable and good for all people in Ontario.
I read this bill, and I think it’s very technical. I received so many different emails. I was reading them a few minutes ago before I came to the House to see what I was going to say when I stood up in my place to speak about this bill.
I want to talk to all the people who sent me emails. I want to thank you very much for advising me and giving me your input and voicing your concern. When you voice your concern to me and educate me about your concerns, at least I know exactly what’s going on outside this chamber. It will also give me the ability to use my judgment in order to support the people of Ontario.
I think it’s important to bring such important things to the House to be debated and to listen to all the concerns from both sides of the House. In the end, I want to say that our aim and goal is to strengthen the ability of the people of Ontario, give them the power and comfort they need and create an environment to create more jobs and to maintain the jobs we have in the province. Human resource professionals play a pivotal role in creating and maintaining jobs and in choosing the best of the best of the people of Ontario to occupy those jobs.
Again, thank you very much for allowing me to speak. I want to congratulate my colleague for bringing such an important issue to us. I’m saying publicly that I’m going to support it to pass second reading. I’m also recommending that it go to committee to be debated more, to listen to many stakeholders to strengthen it and to give it a chance to pass as a law in the province of Ontario.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?
Mr. Bob Delaney: It’s a pleasure to rise to speak to this particular piece of legislation brought forth by a member, my colleague the member from Willowdale, who has a long and enviable tradition in this House of bringing forward well-thought-through, progressive, sensible proposed pieces of legislation. This is certainly one of them.
I think it’s worth starting with a bit of a perspective. We’re talking about a profession that, in its roots, evolved from basically the boss depending upon his or her personal intuition in hiring people to progressing through the function of what was called, as many of us were growing up, personnel. The function evolved into a profession. It was a profession that had a set of core principles and that used a recognizable and, more importantly, teachable body of knowledge, that governed itself through recognized and uniform standards and that moved forward through the evolution and the leadership of its peers. That’s where we are today.
The profession became such in the early 1990s. I believe it was 1990 that its first act was passed. In Ontario, it touched that plateau of maturity in being recognized as a profession that was called “human resources.” Today in Ontario, some 20,000 people earn a living as human resources professionals.
Bill 138 builds on the success of the human resources profession. As their act in 1990 brought the personnel function into the 20th century as the human resources profession, so too Bill 138 brings the human resources profession into the 21st century through being able to enhance such things as the setting of standards; the enforcement of those standards; the service and certification of members—certainly you’ve heard of the CHRP designation; providing a means of redress for members, employees, employers and the general public; and giving the profession the tools and methods of such professionals as doctors, accountants, lawyers and so on.
So, I think, a few words here to say what it is that we’re trying to do. This act applies to members of the Human Resources Professionals Association only, not those who wish to say that they’re out there consulting in the practice of personnel, staffing or whatever. It will not affect the transferability of the CHRP designation for members of the HRPA. It won’t increase dues or costs. Most of what’s in there, the act merely clarifies. These are functions that are largely done today.
This is a piece of legislation influenced by a great deal of homework and consultation. There were some 40-plus communications efforts—articles, newsletters, chapter visits and so on and so forth—over the past three years. The profession sought independent expert legal opinions and came to a conclusion that the proposals are, in fact, good for their members, good for their employers and good for the general public. This empowers the Human Resources Professionals Association to advance in scope, sophistication and responsibility and meet the organization-wide challenges of the 21st century, where human capital is more strategic, in many cases, than financial capital.
We need skilled HR professionals who work within a framework of rules and regulations that they don’t get in their corporate environments. We need them to bring to the organization, its stakeholders and the people affected by what the organization does the full range of expertise that they acquire and use, in such areas as setting missions and goals, setting strategies, measuring organizational effectiveness, matching staffing needs to the available labour pool, sourcing strategic skills for the organization, retaining key employees, coming up with a fair framework of compensation and full and proper costing, both present and future. These are all things that HR people do.
Training and development, for example, in the IT sector: One assumes that it takes between 10 and 20 days a year just to stay even in your field. In most knowledge work today, that function of training, development and employee retention is key, because your primary assets are the people who walk out the door on Friday afternoon and go home for the weekend. You’ve got to have them managed, and managed well, and that’s what the HRPA does. You can’t waste people, time and money; you have to manage them, and that’s what the HRPA does. Those are the tools and techniques that this act enables them to advance in sophistication and to enforce, to ensure that in the future, HR professionals are getting the best possible association they can get.
So, good for the Human Resources Professionals Association. They’re providing for the profession such functions as networking, leadership and management development, the evolution of a common body of standards and management of that all-important CHRP designation. They’re giving people a chance to discuss the ideas, to share some of their thoughts and, basically, as HR professionals, to play a role in advancing their profession, their company, their skills and the people whose careers they affect so deeply; managing them with the best possible tools and techniques and ensuring that, here in Ontario and here in Canada, our organizations manage human resources as effectively as we possibly can.
What we’ve done here is to empower the Human Resources Professionals Association with a world-class regulatory framework. Good for them. Go forward, HR people.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Thank you. The honourable member for Willowdale has two minutes for his response.
Mr. David Zimmer: I just want to address this business of the petition in objection to it. The petition was signed by about 800 people. Of those 800 people, approximately only 420 signatories were members of HRPA. The total membership of HRPA is 20,000. I can tell you that there are 28 or 29 chapters of the association in Ontario, and 83% of those 28 or 29 chapters support this matter. That 83% represents almost 20,000 members.
With respect to the consultation, I have a list here of consultations going back, starting in February 2008 and going right up—the most recent was February 18, 2011, last week, in the Kingston, Quinte, Northumberland, Brockville and Peterborough chapters. The consultations include website consultations; two presentations at the AGM of the association, one in 2009 and one in 2010; various webinars; and other consultation vehicles. I have the titles of each of the consultation meetings.
With respect, let me just put this in some context. If this bill is passed, it’s going to create in Ontario one of the best employer-employee labour relations relationships in the world. That’s good for Ontario, because that makes Ontario a good place for companies to set up shop and employ people. It will attract business. It will keep business here in Ontario. This is good for the economy of Ontario. We want to have the best employer-employee relationship model in the world.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): The time provided for private members’ public business has expired.
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