July 9, 2019 by David Gambrill, Editor-in-Chief
Some time ago, a broker contacted us to have his or her name scrubbed from an online story we published about their discipline case. The request was like asking us to shut the gates after all the horses had escaped: the disciplinary decision was posted for all the world to see on the website of the Canadian Insurance Regulators.
This is as it should be. Trade media publish stories about discipline decisions partly as a tool for brokers to learn about best (and worst) practices. Also, media act as a check on the authority exercised by the regulators. In R v. Sussex Justices, ex parte McCarthy, Lord Chief Justice Gordon Hewart penned the now-famous phrase: “it is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.”
In the digital age, all disciplinary decisions should be posted online, where they are easily accessible to the public (the constituency being protected). They should include not just a vague order or an outcome, but some kind of comprehensive agreed statement of facts and reasons for the decision.
Currently, most provincial broker regulators post their disciplinary decisions online, accessible through the Canadian Insurance Regulators Disciplinary Actions database. However, exactly how provincial broker regulators craft and post their discipline decisions is scattershot.
In B.C., Manitoba, and Quebec, for example, the decisions tend to be the most up-to-date, accessible and generous with information. Alberta’s decisions are comprehensive when posted, but the province’s regulator hasn’t posted a discipline decision since February 2019. Saskatchewan decisions are up to date, but frequently don’t contain enough information to understand what happened. In Ontario, Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario (RIBO) posts outcomes of their broker discipline hearings, as well as a few details about each case, in their quarterly bulletins, posted online. However, the full reasons for decision, including an agreed statement of facts, are often not available unless requested. In Atlantic Canada, broker regulators have not posted any disciplinary decisions in the CISRO/CCIR online database.
To address these inconsistencies, provincial broker regulators should develop and adhere to a national standard for producing and publishing disciplinary decisions.