Rules and Procedures for Dealing with Reports of Unethical Behaviour


Rules and Procedures for Dealing with Reports of Unethical Behaviour

Approved by the CPA Board of Directors February 7, 2023

I. Introduction

  1. These Rules and Procedures for Dealing with Reports of Unethical Behaviour (the “Rules”) are Operating Regulations under the By-law of the Canadian Psychological Association (the “Association”).
  2. The Rules apply to all Members and Affiliates of the Association and certain sections of the Rules apply to individuals applying to be Members or Affiliates. The Rules do not apply to Section Associates.[1]
  3. All individuals who are Members or Affiliates must uphold the highest standard of ethical behaviour and conduct in accordance with the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists (the “Code”). Members and Affiliates must also cooperate with the Association and its committees concerned with ethics and ethical conduct (the “Committee”) with respect to matters related to compliance with the Code and the Rules.
  4. The Association seeks to maintain both the reputation of, and public confidence in, the Association and the discipline and profession of psychology, by promoting high ethical standards and by taking appropriate action in accordance with the Rules when unethical behaviour, inconsistent with the expectations set out in the Code, has occurred.
  5. The Association does not have regulatory authority or jurisdiction over the research, teaching, or practice of psychology in Canada and, therefore, does not investigate complaints of alleged unethical behaviour against its Members or Affiliates. The investigation and review of such complaints should be carried out by bodies with the legal mandate, resources, and structures to do so.
  6. The Association will assist any individual looking to make a complaint about alleged unethical behaviour on the part of a psychology researcher, teacher, or practitioner in identifying alternative bodies for the consideration of such complaint.

II. Membership/Affiliateship Review

  1. The Association reserves admittance as Members and Affiliates to individuals who meet the ethical principles, values and standards set out in the Code. As such, individuals who wish to become a Member or Affiliate or renew their membership or affiliateship must answer certain mandatory ethics questions as part of the application process.

II.A. Membership/Affiliateship Applications/Renewals

  1. When considering applications for membership, affiliateship or renewal of same, the Association’s will consider an applicant’s responses to the mandatory ethics questions, any additional information provided by the applicant and any verified reports (e.g., disciplinary reports sent to the Association, media reports, voluntary self-disclosure) pertaining to sanctioned, unethical, unprofessional or criminal behaviour (collectively, “unethical behaviour”).
  2. If there has been any disclosure of unethical behaviour in an application for membership, affiliateship or renewal of same, then the Association’s Director of Membership shall, in consultation with the Chief Executive Officer, or their designate (the “CEO”), refer the relevant application, and any relevant documentation, to the Chair of the Committee on Ethics (the “Chair”) for review in accordance with D. For greater certainty, providing false information on an application will be treated as a disclosure of unethical behaviour.

II.B. Verified Report of Unethical Behaviour or Misuse of Membership or Affiliation

  1. Where it comes to the attention of the Association that a Member or Affiliate has been convicted of a serious criminal offence,[2] or has been sanctioned by a regulatory body, licensing board or any other professional, scientific or administrative body for unethical behaviour, or is misusing the Association’s membership or affiliation (e.g., using membership or affiliation in a way that implies certification or licensure), the CEO shall refer all available information to the Committee for review in accordance with D.

II.C. Requests for Admission after Denial, Resignation while under Review, or Expulsion

  1. The Association’s Director of Membership shall, in consultation with the CEO, refer to the Chair all applications for membership/affiliateship from individuals who were previously denied admission by the Association, resigned from the Association while under review, or were expelled from the Association due to unethical behaviour. Such applications shall only be eligible for re-consideration if at least five (5) years have elapsed since the denial, resignation, or expulsion.

II.D. Review Process

  1. The Association may review the outcomes of court proceedings, the public record of regulatory authorities, or findings of other formal scientific, professional, or administrative bodies when reviewing the unethical behaviour of an individual. However, the Association shall not reconsider the findings of any such bodies.
  2. For those matters referred to the Chair under A, II.B or II.C, the Chair shall review the documentation received to determine whether adequate information is available to determine whether the unethical behaviour is inconsistent with the expectations set out in the Code. The Chair may request additional information from other sources (e.g., the CEO, the concerned individual, public sources). The member or associate whose membership or associateship is under review by the Chair of the CoE, shall be notified and given the opportunity to respond to the unethical behaviour under review. Once adequate information is available, the Chair shall determine whether to: (i) make a recommendation directly to the CEO; or (ii) refer the matter to the Committee’s review subcommittee (the “Review Subcommittee”) for a formal review of the unethical behaviour and recommendation to the CEO. In deciding whether to refer the matter to the Review Subcommittee, the Chair shall consider whether the matter is frivolous in nature, whether the matter is within the jurisdiction of the Association, the nature of the unethical behaviour, the supporting information and such other criteria as the Chair, in consultation with the Review Subcommittee, deems appropriate.
  3. If a matter is referred to the Review Subcommittee for a formal review, the Chair shall ensure that at least two (2) other members of the Review Subcommittee in addition to the Chair participate in the review. The Chair shall provide the Review Subcommittee with all relevant materials for review. Based on its review of the materials, the Review Subcommittee shall make a recommendation to the CEO.
  4. A recommendation to the CEO by the Chair or Review Subcommittee, as applicable, shall indicate, at a minimum: (i) whether the relevant membership/affiliateship application/renewal should be approved, denied, or made provisional under specified conditions; or (ii) whether further action is required for an existing Member or Affiliate and the nature of any such further action. Other recommendations may also be offered.
  5. Recommendations for further action may include, but are not limited to: (i) specifying conditions that must be met in order for the individual to remain a Member or Affiliate, as applicable (e.g., providing proof that all disciplinary requirements of the relevant regulatory body have been satisfied); (ii) asking the individual to resign voluntarily as a Member or Affiliate; or (iii) recommending that the Board of Directors expel the individual in accordance with Section 3.06 of the Association’s By-law.
  6. The CEO shall be responsible for making the final determination on all unethical behaviour review matters and whether to implement any other recommendations from the Chair or Review Subcommittee. In making such a final determination, the CEO may consult with the Chair, the Review Subcommittee or the Board’s Governance Committee, as the CEO deems appropriate and necessary. The CEO’s decision, if contrary to recommendations made by the Chair or Review Subcommittee, must be made in consultation with the Board’s Governance Committee. In the event of disagreement between the Chair, Review Subcommittee, the CEO and the Board’s Governance Committee, the Board’s view shall prevail.
  7. In accordance with the Association’s By-law, any decision involving termination of membership shall be submitted to the Board of Directors for removal.
  8. The concerned individual may appeal the decision of the CEO pursuant to the procedure set out in III

II.E. Communications Regarding Matters Related to Section II

  1. If a formal review by the Review Subcommittee is initiated, in accordance with D.7, the CEO shall inform the individual in writing that the matter is being reviewed by the Review Subcommittee.
  2. Once a final decision is made by the CEO, in accordance with D.11, the individual shall be advised in writing of the final decision which shall include the rationale for the decision.


  1. The concerned individual (the “Appellant”) may only appeal the CEO’s final decision within thirty (30) calendar days of being notified of the decision by submitting a completed [“Appeal Form”], along with any supporting documentation, to the President of the Association.
  2. Grounds for appeal are limited to:
    1. an error in fact that would affect the outcome;
    2. an error in interpretation or application of the Code or the Rules, which would affect the outcome; or
    3. a procedural error or a lack of impartiality with respect to the matter, which affected the reliability or fairness of the final decision (i.e., a failure to provide due process).
  3. The President or their designate, in consultation with the Board of Directors, shall determine whether the appeal falls within the permitted grounds for appeal noted in III.2 and inform the Appellant of the decision. The President or their designate shall use reasonable efforts to ensure this step is completed within thirty (30) calendar days of submission by the Appellant of a properly completed “Appeal Form”.
  4. If the appeal falls within the permitted grounds, three (3) Directors, who did not participate in the original recommendation to the CEO, shall be designated by the President or their designate to act as the appeal panel. The appeal panel will select a chair.
  5. Appeals shall be conducted by way of a written hearing. In extraordinary circumstances, the President or their designate may, in their discretion, direct that the appeal be conducted by way of an oral hearing, in whole or in part, instead of a written hearing. The President/designate’s decision in this regard is final and not subject to review or appeal.
  6. The appeal panel will consider the relevant documentation, including copies of the original decision and rationale, and any documentation submitted by the Appellant with the [“Appeal Form”].
  7. After reviewing the materials, the appeal panel shall: (i) confirm or amend, in whole or in part, the decision made by the CEO pursuant to the process under D; or (ii) return the matter to the Chair for reconsideration in accordance with the review process set out in II.D. The appeal panel may also recommend any further action(s) to be taken.
  8. The appeal panel’s decision, including the rationale for the decision, and any recommendations made by the appeal panel shall be communicated by the chair of the appeal panel to the President or their designate in writing. The President or their designate shall be responsible for communicating the decision in writing to the Appellant. The Association shall use reasonable efforts to ensure the decision is delivered to the Appellant within 90 calendar days of submission by the Appellant of a properly completed “Appeal Form”.
  9. The decision of the appeal panel is final and is not open to further appeal.

IV. Record Keeping

  1. The CEO is responsible for opening, maintaining, and securing records of all matters related to or considered under the Rules. Except as otherwise provided below, records of a matter related to or considered under the Rules shall be maintained for five (5) years after the matter has been closed.
  2. Records concerning individuals: (i) whose applications were denied by the Association; (ii) who resigned voluntarily as a Member/Affiliate; or (iii) who were expelled from the Association, in relation to a review of unethical behaviour, shall be maintained for a period of at least twenty (20) years.
  3. Records concerning an individual who has been admitted to the Association pursuant to C shall be maintained for an additional period of ten (10) years following admission.
  4. The records shall be maintained at the Head Office of the Association.

V. Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest

  1. All information concerning Members, Affiliates, applicants, or other parties collected or recorded pursuant to the Rules shall be kept confidential. All personal information will be managed in accordance with the Association’s Privacy Policy available on the Association’s website.
  2. All deliberations under the Rules shall not be disclosed, except as otherwise provided herein.
  3. The Chair shall report annually on the number of matters reviewed under the Rules, the general nature of such matters, and the types and numbers of specific decisions. The parties involved shall not be identified.
  4. Any Association representatives involved in reviewing and making determinations under the Rules will declare any and all conflicts or potential conflicts of interest, and immediately withdraw from participation in the decision-making process with respect to any specific matter on which there is a conflict or potential conflict of interest.

[1] For the purposes of the Rules, the terms “Member”, “Affiliate” and “Section Associate” have the meanings given thereto at the CPA Membership Categories link:

[2] A “serious criminal offence” is defined as an infraction of the Criminal Code or related statutes that has resulted in a peace bond, a fine of $5000 or more, probation, or any period of post-conviction imprisonment, and would include conviction of any offence classified as an indictable or hybrid offence for which a pardon has not been granted. This definition is in effect at the time of Board approval of the Rules, but may be updated from time to time.  Any changes and updates may be initiated by the Committee and must be approved by the Board.