President’s Message: the role of Council and Executive
This month we open the annual call for nominations to start the Council elections process.
There are two, three-year term positions open for the 2018 Council election. These positions are available due to the term expiry of Council members Jonathan Jaekel and Annabelle Stratton.
This marks the completion of the first term by both Council members, (Jonathan Jaekel a three-year term and Annabelle Stratton a one-year term). I want to acknowledge both Annabelle and Jon for their participation on Council. As per Bylaw 2.3(d) and Governance Policy 101, both Council members are eligible – should they choose – to run for a second term.
My message this month, I feel, needs to be about the role of Council in our HPA world. I continue to get questions about why members don’t get to vote on everything, including Bylaws. While we do answer these questions through email, telephone and in-person – often in a hallway – I can’t help but acknowledge they deserve attention on a broader platform. Especially as we begin the elections process for our next two Council members.
Council’s role under HPA is clear: Council is tasked with the significant responsibility of governing the profession. From the Act: “A council manages and conducts the activities of the college, exercises the rights, powers and privileges and carries out the duties of the college in the name of and on behalf of the college and carries out the powers and duties of the council under the Act and the Bylaws.”
To do this effectively takes time, dedication, responsibility, accountability and a desire to serve the profession above all else. A Council member is not simply a regulated member acting on their own will or agenda. To be successful at the Council table means to put aside assumptions and judgements, and be ready to discuss and decide how best to move the profession forward.
Sometimes the decisions at the Council table are relatively clear. But others, such as should the College build or not build, what is the future of paramedicine in Alberta, what are the gaps in care we provide to Albertans and how will we address them? These decisions require a lot of work including familiarizing yourself with significant background information, reports from subject matter experts and then fulsome discussion. More often than not, what looks like a simple issue on the surface is usually very complex and nuanced.
As to why members don’t vote on various topics, it is common practice to not allow member votes to bind a board to a decision for this reason. The work involved at the board level is intense and much more than many members would want to undertake to ensure an informed decision was made.
This is why, I will end with my message with a call to those exceptional regulated members who are willing to take on the weight of governing. Please – consider running for Council. Your voice can make a difference for us all.
And to those who are not ready for that responsibility, please know that your voice is equally important in ensuring you vote for the Council members you want to trust with those decisions entrusted to Council. Elect to Council someone you trust, someone who has a reputation of honesty and transparency, who is not afraid of having difficult conversations and who you will feel confident will make good decisions.
We as a profession need to expect more from those we elect. We should expect people we elect to take the time to truly understand board governance, to take the time to ensure there is active communication occurring with members and to expect customer service to be a priority for members. The board needs to set a clear vision with its strategic plan, the board needs to ensure the ED is meeting expectations set out by the board. The board needs to ensure that it follows the Act, Bylaws and Policies – that’s good governance.
Please watch for the names of the confirmed candidates in the May Pulse. Candidates this year will have the opportunity to address the membership at the Annual Members’ Meeting, so I hope you will take the time to attend, or watch the presentations through the Facebook feed.
Pete Helfrich, President
Alberta College of Paramedics
Distributed via the Pulse: March 15, 2018