Ontario leaves national HR association

HRPA to exit CCHRA, place focus on strengthening CHRP designation
By Liz Bernier
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/16/2014

After 20 years, the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) has decided to leave the Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA).

Effective June 30, the Ontario association said it will be pulling out of CCHRA and focusing on strengthening the CHRP designation in the province — saving HRPA $500,000 in the process.

HRPA has been a member of CCHRA since 1994, according to Philip Wilson, chair of HRPA’s board of directors. But the association, which recently achieved self-regulated status for the HR profession in Ontario, saw the need to make some changes.

“The need for change has become even more acute for HRPA as a result of the passage of our (self-regulation) act. What changes there is that it empowers HRPA to focus basically on upgrading our designation, because now we’re a tier-one association. And that’s a tremendous benefit for our members in Ontario, and it also means that we have to play the role of protection of the public,” he said.

“Basically, we feel that — in the current framework — the resources and the activities that we need to focus on aren’t necessarily the things that CCHRA has in progress or can deliver within their framework.”

CCHRA acknowledged the impending change in an emailed statement to Canadian HR Reporter but a spokesperson was not available for an interview.

“Cheryl Newcombe, chair of CCHRA, says that the CCHRA will determine what impact, if any, HRPA’s departure will have on the CCHRA’s work underway or planned,” said the statement.

“The granting and recertification of the CHRP is the responsibility of the individual provincial human resource associations, including transportability between one province and another.”

Transferability of CHRP

Ontario’s exit from CCHRA will make it the second provincial association to leave the council, behind Quebec. The seven other provincial associations are still CCHRA members.

HRPA’s withdrawal from CCHRA will not affect the transferability or mutual recognition of the CHRP designation between provinces, said Wilson.

“Legally, the provinces have the sole responsibility in this area, and designations can only be dealt with on a province-to-province basis,” he said.

“So, in terms of the transferability, I don’t see any impact there because that’s a provincial responsibility.”

Transferability of the designation is negotiated and supported by the provincial associations’ chief staff officers (CSOs), who meet regularly, said Wilson.

“They’ve been meeting on a regular basis to basically share best practices. We attend each other’s conferences, ensure that there’s communication, we exchange best practices and we support each other as needed.”

But HRPA’s exit from CCHRA will complicate things a bit when it comes to transferability, said Alykhan Bandali, chair of the board of directors of the Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA).

“Now we’ve just got the additional challenge to make sure that the designation is recognized with standards across the country for that transferability,” he said. “It’s not as easy.”

Reaction from other provinces

Alberta was disappointed by Ontario’s decision to leave, said Bandali.

“As a designated body for the CHRP, we were very disappointed with the decision on the part of HRPA to leave CCHRA,” he said.

“This doesn’t sever relationships with HRIA and HRPA in any way — we still have a great working relationship with them. They’ve been very helpful in giving us their experience in the whole self-regulation process.”

HRPA will continue to exchange knowledge and collaborate with the other provincial associations, said Wilson.

“We’ve always taken the position with member associations that we’re willing to share anything and everything that we do,” he said.

“Staff (have) been sharing our experience and lessons learned in terms of the regulatory voyage that we’ve been on, and we will continue to do that.”

Learning about those experiences will be helpful as Alberta continues to pursue self-regulated status, said Bandali.

“For HRIA in Alberta, this has further solidified our resolve in achieving self-regulation and assisting other provinces in doing the same.”

The British Columbia Human Resources Management Association (BC HRMA) is also continuing to pursue self-regulated status, and it’s probably two or three years away at this point, said Simon Evans, the association’s former CEO.

“We’re all at different stages, and each one of us has different experiences around self-regulation,” he said, adding HRPA’s withdrawal from CCHRA will have no impact on BC HRMA’s operations or programs.

The B.C. association was not surprised by HRPA’s decision because now that Ontario is self-regulated, HRPA has different needs, said Evans.

Next steps

After exiting CCHRA, the Ontario association’s next steps will include promoting a stronger focus on enhancing the CHRP designation in the province, according to Wilson.

“We feel it’s fundamental in terms of protecting the public and providing value to our members. So a lot more emphasis and focus will be put on enhancing the designation for our members, as well as more emphasis in terms of marketing the profession,” he said.

“That’s where we need to put our effort and focus, and we are working diligently on that.”

HRPA’s budget line of more than $500,000 annually that previously went towards its CCHRA membership will be reinvested in critical areas that add value for members, said Wilson.

“Whatever savings we would see, we will invest those in specific areas that are critical as we move to really inculcating our role as a regulator in Ontario. Areas that we will putting extra attention and spending to will be in the area of designation, and in the area of marketing the benefits that HR professionals bring to organizations,” he said.

HRPA does not anticipate the decision to leave the national body will have any implications on its relationships with international HR associations, said Wilson.

“We really don’t see that that’s going to have much impact. The reason for that is we already have very strong relationships with international associations, really at the most senior level,” he said.

“We actually meet with those associations on a regular basis… we invite them as well to our conferences and we attend their conferences.”

The organizations also consult with each other on best practices, said Wilson.

“We really don’t see that that’s going to change moving forward.”

Leaving the door open

HRPA has not ruled out the possibility of rejoining CCHRA in the future, he said.

“If, at some point in the future, it makes sense for us to rejoin — if circumstances change at some future date, we’d be open to reassessing the situation,” said Wilson.

“I am, believe it or not, a firm believer in national associations, so I’m hoping longer-term that we may be able to re-open the door.”

In the meantime, HRPA has offered to remain involved with CCHRA in a reduced role as an observer, he said, adding he has not yet received a response.

The decision to leave the national association was a difficult one that HRPA’s board weighed for some time, said Wilson.

“It hasn’t been an easy decision for HRPA — our board really did a lot of due diligence on this.”

But, at this point, HRPA feels that shifting its focus and exiting the council is a necessary decision.

“I opened the door longer-term to (CCHRA), if things do change. We just feel that the national relationship is really important, but they need to review and update how that would work,” he said.

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