"Professional standards need to be regulated so that the public feels safe."
Wes Vickers, OCT, has a unique perspective on professional regulation. Not only is the Grade 8 teacher an elected Council member for the Ontario College of Teachers, he’s also an appointed member of the Council of the Ontario College of Pharmacists.
As Vickers notes, anyone making use of a professional wants their own best interests served. Just as a teacher filling a prescription likes to know that Ontario’s pharmacists are regulated, pharmacists are comforted that their children’s teachers are similarly governed.
“Professional standards need to be regulated,” he says, “so that the public feels safe.”
Vickers, who teaches with the Greater Essex County District School Board, is a double two-timer: serving with two regulators and elected to a second term with the Ontario College of Teachers. He has served on three College committees: Fitness to Practise, Discipline (vice-chair) and Human Resources (chair).
As a Council member, he had to adjust to the travel and hotel living involved, as well as to voluminous reading and debating in a public forum. “It was daunting,” he says.
Yet the challenges have been far outweighed by the rewards. For instance, Vickers has served on well over 100 Discipline and Fitness to Practise panels, and feels proud of his role in protecting the public.
He takes seriously his fiduciary and regulatory duties, and sees them tied as well to the public interest. “It’s my responsibility to make sure we’re fiscally responsible so we can maintain our viability,” he says. Ensuring that the College fulfils its mandate (and stays within it) also supports public confidence in self-regulation.
From being on Council he has learned not just legislation and governance but skills that help him as a teacher too, like time management and note-taking.
“In an ideal world everyone would serve two terms,” he says. The College’s training is phenomenal, adds Vickers, but it takes time to get your feet wet and fully understand your role as a Council member. He has had more time to grow into the position and make an impact. When his term ends he will sit out the required three years but can already foresee a return run. “More than likely I’ll come back.”