Some people need special knowledge and skills for their work. For example, accountants must learn how to make sense of numbers and surgeons perform risky operations. Since it would be dangerous to let just anyone do this type of work, professional orders were created.
Orders are associations of professionals who are specially regulated by the law. To practise these professions, people usually have to become a member of a professional order and be subject to its supervision.
What is a professional order?
A professional order is an umbrella group for people practising the same profession. In Quebec, there are more than 40 professional orders. In the law, for example, there is a professional order for lawyers, one for notaries and one for bailiffs.
What is the role of a professional order?
Professional orders exist mainly to protect the public. To do this, they ensure that their members perform their professional duties properly. They control the admission of new members and oversee them throughout their careers.
Professional orders must ensure that all their members have the competence required to practise their professions.
The criteria for becoming a member can vary from one order to another. Here are a few examples:
- complete the necessary studies and obtain the required degrees
- complete additional training as well as an internship
- have adequate professional skills
- have good conduct, that is, act properly in one's personal life and at work
- not have been found guilty of a crime related to the practise of the profession
Once these criteria are met, the person can become a member of the professional order. Members receive permits allowing them to practise the profession. In some professional orders, this permit is given when members are sworn in. For example, the swearing in of new lawyers is a ceremony during which they swear to act honestly and with respect toward the legal system.
However, just because members have been sworn in doesn't mean they have nothing more to worry about. The professional order will oversee their work throughout their careers.
An order acts something like an inspector. It ensures that members perform their work properly and respect the profession's rules of ethics.
In addition to generally respecting the law, professionals have to follow rules specific to their profession. These rules cover, among other things, how they interact with the public, their clients and other members of their profession.
For many professionals, certain activities, refresher courses or training periods are mandatory throughout their careers. This continuing education allows them to share and acquire knowledge and upgrade their skills.
If a professional's conduct is unacceptable or the person longer has the necessary qualifications to practise the profession, the professional order can impose penalties, the most serious one being preventing the person from practicing the profession.
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.