Back to the future (Guest Commentary)

In 1997, a Canadian HR Reporter article laid out a vision for the CHRP’s future – did it come true?

I was reading a Canadian HR Reporter article on the future of the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation recently. What made it interesting was it was published on Sept. 22, 1997 — more than 15 years ago.

Old articles about the future are always interesting because we now know how the events actually played out.

In 1997, the key topic was the credibility of the then fledgling designation. Although the CHRP designation was offered in five provinces at that time — British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario — the requirements for the designation were very much in flux.

The Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA) was three years old and work on a national standard for certification had just begun. At that time, the association thought the standard was just one year away — it would actually take another six years.

Interestingly, the article stated: “In all the other provinces (other than Ontario), they’re working on an earning process which is a combination of education and experience, and then you have to renew every so many years.”

In the end, the provincial associations would adopt a certification process that would require neither education nor experience, settling instead on a two-exam format — with the exception of Ontario, which would keep the coursework requirement that had always been part of its certification process.

The coursework requirement would remain a hot issue for years to come. Also, at the time, Ontario was the only province that hadn’t yet agreed to a recertification requirement. This would come, however, within a few years.

When the Canadian HR Reporter article was written in 1997, the degree requirement was not yet on the horizon. Eventually, in 2004, the provincial associations would agree to introduce a degree requirement, but the issue of making specific coursework in HR a requirement is still a topic of discussion. In time, all of the provincial associations would abandon the second exam and introduce or reintroduce an experience requirement.

Also on the radar screen in 1997 was the recognition of the designation by government. At that time, it was a goal to have the CHRP designation recognized in all provinces — Ontario had already achieved this in 1990. Although some provinces felt they were only months away from having this happen, it turned out to be an elusive goal.

To this day, Ontario and Quebec are the only two provinces in which the provincial HR associations have been granted statutory regulatory authority.

All in all, as is usually the case, the future didn’t quite turn out as expected, but it is always interesting to go back to the past to understand and appreciate the progress that has been made. There were many twists and turns that were simply not foreseen at the time — and I am sure there will be more twist and turns in the years to come.

Claude Balthazard is vice-president of regulatory affairs at the Toronto-based Human Resources Professionals Association. He can be reached at [email protected] or visit for more information.

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