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Self Regulation For Canadian Sonographers 


▷            Regulation of a profession is a provincial responsibility enacted by provincial legislative.  

▷            The decision to regulate a health care profession typically arises as a result of a provincial health care response to related policy, public, and/or professional practitioner considerations.  

▷            At present, except in Quebec, the professional practice of sonography is not regulated by any province or territory.  

▷            Provincial regulation of sonography is slowly but surely becoming a reality. Quebec been has regulated for some time, Alberta is expected to be regulated this year, Ontario may not be far behind, and the issue is growing in British Columbia.   


▷     Governments regulate in order to ensure that citizens will receive competent practice relative to the standards set by the provincial regulator. 

▷            Only governments have the legal authority to establish enforceable practice standards and determine who is deemed to be competent and to be employed as a registered practitioner. 


▷            A provincial regulator derives legal authority from provincial legislation that established the regulator. The expected outcome of a regulatory program for a health care profession will typically be increased public trust in receiving safe and competent care by a regulated and continually advancing profession based upon provincial practise standards.  

▷       The regulation-related issues that the province and the regulator will typically address include:  

-              Whether a profession should have its own "college" or whether an alliance with
another "college" should be made;               
-              What the registration to practice criteria should be;
-              What standards of practice should be adopted;
-              What education program and entry to practice exams should be accredited;
-              What continuing professional development should be required; and
-              How to regulate professional conduct.  


▷            A national credentialing organization, such as Sonography Canada, does not have any legal
authority to regulate the profession other than the authority established within their respective By-laws and as may be authorized by their members. The expected outcome of a national credentialing organization will typically be entry to practice credentials, a continuing professional development program, and practice standards.  

▷            The credentialing-related issues that a national professional association will typically address include: 

-              national competency profiles;  
-              professional practice standards and guidelines;
-              entry to practice criteria and exams;
-              professional practice credentials;
-              accreditation of education programs; and
-              continuing professional development; 


While regulators and national organizations do not typically have formal partnership arrangements they share the same health care and professional standards interests. As such, the roles of a provincial regulatory college and Sonography Canada are similar in many ways.  Sonography Canada sets a national standard for sonographers and the practice of sonography. A provincial regulatory college typically adopts those standards for the regulated practice of sonography in their province. While the roles are similar, the respective national and provincial perspectives have important distinctions.  





Established by provincial government.

Established by sonographers.

Legal authority created by the provincial government legislation.

Association authority created by not-for-profit By-laws. 

Focus on public safety.

Focus on professional practice.

Establishes standards related to the employment of the practitioner in the province.


Establishes practices and credentials related to the professional practice of sonography anywhere in Canada.

In accordance with By-Laws, all members elect council that governs the organization.

In accordance with By-laws, sonographers  elect Board that governs the organization.

Scope of authority extends to all practitioners registered in the province.

Scope of authority extends to practitioners who are SC members. 





Compulsory membership.

Voluntary membership.

Membership includes all professions under the college (e.g., MRTs, sonographers, etc.).

Membership is exclusive for sonography practitioners.

Fee: $450-$500 (estimated)

Fee: $175 (2017) 





Establishes a designated professional title that, by law, only a qualified practitioner can use.

Establishes a professional credential that, by law, only a SC credentialed practitioner can use.

Defines provincial scope of practice.

Defines national practice standards.

Registers practitioners to practice in the province in accordance with provincial standards.

Certifies competency of practitioners to practice in Canada in accordance with SC national standards.

Advocates for provincial regulatory standards for each profession in the college.

Advocates for Canadian professional practice for sonographers.





Must be registered with the regulatory college in order to be employed as a practitioner.

National SC credentials can be used across Canada to certify that a practitioner is professionally competent to practice.

Determines the qualification requirements for provincial registry to practice.

Determines the Canadian qualification requirements for professional designation (e.g., credentials) across Canada.

Ensures qualified professionals with Canadian or foreign credentials (or deemed equivalences) perform diagnostic and/or therapeutic duties in accordance with provincial standards.

Ensures qualified professionals are credentialed to perform diagnostic and/or therapeutic duties in accordance with Canadian standards.

Requires practitioners to have adequate Professional Liability Insurance (PLI).

Provides practitioners with the ability to purchase affordable low-cost Professional Liability Insurance (PLI).





Ensures provincial education programs are accredited to an acceptable standard.

Ensures Canadian education programs are accredited to the national standard.

Requires annual professional development to maintain registration.

Requires annual professional development to maintain credential and membership.

May provide some education events during an annual provincial conference for all regulated disciplines.

Stages national annual sonography conference with sessions and workshops, publishes the Canadian Journal of Medical Sonography, and provides a video library.





Provincial registration limited to practice in the province.

Sonography Canada credential(s) are recognized across Canada and worldwide. 





Has a disciplinary process to address complaints and appeals.  Disciplinary actions could affect an individual’s registration and therefore ability to practice in the province.

Has a disciplinary process to address complaints and appeals. Disciplinary actions could result in the suspension or removal of credential(s) which could affect an individual’s regulatory registration or employment.


▷            Self-regulation has been described1 as follows:     

“Self-regulation is based on the concept of an occupational group entering into an agreement with government to formally regulate the activities of its members. As a condition of delegation of such regulatory powers, the governing or regulatory body is required to apply such powers in a manner that is guided by the public interest.

Professional self-regulation is a regulatory model which enables government to have some control over the practice of a profession and the services provided by its members but without having to maintain the special in-depth expertise required to regulate a profession that would be required under direct regulation. 

Self-regulation is an exceptional privilege. The reason why professions are accorded this privilege is that governments trust professionals to be able to put aside their self-interest in favour of promoting […] the public interest. This follows from the ethos of professionalism which has as an important aspect a commitment to an ideology of service. This ideology of service is an integral aspect of self-regulation.” 

▷            Self regulation for a profession is typically enacted by establishing a regulatory college with a governing council (similar to a Board of Directors) that reports to a provincial government Ministry.  

▷            As registered members of a regulatory college, practitioners are directly involved in governing their professional practices, either as a member of the governing council or as a member of the college.

▷            There are a number of self-regulation benefits, including: 

-              Provides practitioner with recognition of their practices as a profession;
-              The government works with the profession to set the requirements for entry into the profession and the standards of practice;
-              A self-regulation college ensures that issues that affect the profession are considered by government and practitioners; and
-              Professional conduct matters are reviewed by the government and members of the profession.  


▷            When a provincial government decides to move forward with sonography regulation, Sonography Canada can assist the presumptive regulator to help develop draft regulations in advance of public consultations.   

▷            As part of the development assistance to a presumptive regulator, SC can offer the existing National Competency Profile (NCP), standards of practice, and credentialing exams and assessments as acceptable elements for provincial regulatory requirements. In addition, SC can also offer forms of Professional Liability Insurance (PLI) and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) units tailored to meet provincial registry requirements.  

▷       With the advice and guidance from the SC National Education Advisory Committee (NEAC), SC can partner with the provincial regulator to support the accreditation of sonography education programs that permit students to access credentialing exams.  

▷            As the national association representing sonographers across Canada, SC can also advocate with the provincial ministry, the presumptive regulator, and stakeholders to support the professional interests and aspirations of the SC members in the province. 

 ▷           Sonography Canada encourages the adoption of their national standards as a means to support inter-provincial labour mobility.

▷       Sonography Canada supports self-regulation as a means of ensuring quality patient care and that the professional practice of sonography across Canada meets the high national Canadian-specific practice standards that have been developed and advanced by Canadian practitioners.

1 What Does it Mean to be A Regulated Profession, Claude Balthazard, C.Psych., Ph.D., CHRL, Vice-President Regulatory Affairs, Human Resources Professionals Association (Canada), January 1, 2016.