Report on Consultation
Consultation Period: April 2, 2022 until June 8, 2022
Submissions: 205 submissions
What is the Issue
The Council of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario proposed an amendment to its existing Schedule 1 to the By-Laws - Fees to ensure that the College has sufficient funds to manage programs, ensure good governance, support necessary staffing, and provide leadership on issues that affect the public interest. The principal change was an $85 increase to the primary licensure fee (6) which applies to several categories of licensure.
This change was also reflected in the partial year fees which have not been adjusted since 2017. These fee categories (7,8,9) are used by new graduates and other new licensees entering the profession partway through the year and have been adjusted at the same percentage as the primary fee, an increase of .06%. These changes come into effect for the 2023 licensure year. The Council appreciates the challenges of a fee increase for licensed members and took this into consideration when making their decision on the proposed amendment to the By-Laws.
Why is it Important
The College Council has a fiduciary responsibility to assure that the operations of the College are financially stable and support its objectives. While the College has been and remains in a strong overall financial position, there are three recent factors that altered the costs of its operations.
- The College has sold the property at 2106 Gordon Street, in Guelph, and is moving to leased space beginning in the fall of 2022. The addition of $312,000 in annual lease costs to the College operations is a new fiscal responsibility.
- The Council approved an increase in the per diem rate for meeting and preparation time for councillors and committee members from $400 to $600. This change went into effect October 1, 2021. There has not been a per diem increase since the 1990's. This increase recognizes the time and contributions of veterinarians to the work of the College.
- The rising interest rates in Ontario and Canada for the foreseeable future has a direct impact on all of the College’s business operating expenses.
Overview of the Proposal
For an overview of the proposed changes that the College consulted on, the draft changes are found below.
Following in-depth discussion at its March 2022 meeting, Council elected to approve an $85 increase to the primary licensure fee (6) for public consultation. The draft By-Laws amendment was posted on the College website and circulated for public consultation for a 67-day period during which licensed members and the public were asked to provide their feedback.
What We Heard and How We Responded
The majority of 205 responses received opposed the fee increase. Respondents provided comments on several themes including the sale of 2106 Gordon St, comparisons of fees in other professions or jurisdictions, and the frequency of fee increases. Some respondents commented positively on the proposed increase. These respondents indicated they felt that the increase was fair and reasonable given the rate of inflation and supported ensuring the College remains financially stable.
The following quotes, summarized from comments received, reflect suggestions made during the consultation:
- Will the proceeds of the sale not cover the lease? What was the reason for the sale of the building?
- I find it disappointing that the college would sell an owned building to move into a facility that has an annual lease of $312 000.
- Ontario has the highest license fees that I have encountered, and the cost is becoming astronomical.
- Due to recent economic changes and challenges and the challenges of the last several years, as well as those facing veterinarians on a daily basis, I do not feel that an increase in license fee is fair
- It is reasonable given inflation and COL. Using proceeds of sale to offset lease is logical.
Council June 2022 Decision
Council reviewed the consultation feedback and the proposed change at its June 2022 meeting and approved the amendment to Schedule 1 to the By-Laws – Fees for adoption. To review the amended By-Law in its entirety, please visit the amended Schedule 1 to the By-Laws – Fees.
Council was sensitive to the questions and concerns raised in the consultation. To assist with addressing some of the comments, the following information is provided:
- The decision to sell the property at 2105 Gordon Street, Guelph was made after research and discussion on all possible options. The College has an obligation to ensure an accessible, safe and agile work environment for College activity into the future. Leasing was the best option. For more information, please see a 2021 College Connection article informing the profession of this upcoming change.
- The income from the sale of the building will be used to cover all relocation costs and the setup of the new space. Remaining funds will offset the lease costs over 10 years and minimize future fee increases.
- The current and proposed fees for the College are consistent with other professions in Canada, and are considerably lower than many, inclusive of the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia.
- This fee increase is below a compounded interest rate over the last five years; the last time fees were adjusted.
- While applying a regular rate of increase at inflation to fees annually was suggested in the consultation feedback, the College aims to set its fees and ensure stability in its operations over time. Increases that are not needed would not be defensible nor in the interests of licensed members or the public.
The Council appreciates all the feedback received. Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment and reflect on this change to the College By-Laws.