ID Connections

The difference between advocacy and regulatory associations

Published by Patrick Voisin, December 13, 2017.

Perhaps one of the most frequently-asked questions that comes into the Interior Designers of Canada (IDC) staffers’ inboxes is how does a national association differ from a provincial regulatory body – the "Who Does What" inquiry.

While the two institutions are linked, and often have similar goals, the biggest difference lies in the accountability for the behaviour of members. To help illustrate this, we can imagine a large playground with a swing set, sand box and picnic areas. IDC would be the equivalent of the entire playground – for the interior design profession, IDC brings together stakeholders, industry, project managers, builders, contractors, and other professionals to the playground, to influence and espouse the value of using registered interior designers. Provincial associations, then, would be the swing set on the playground, which only the highest qualified professionals, as determined by the provincial associations, are allowed to use. The role of provincial associations, or regulators, is to ensure the swing set is safe to use, and is only used by qualified professionals.

An advocacy association, like IDC, keeps its members informed on industry news and trends, advocates on behalf of its members and strives for its members to be heard on a national platform, for the advancement of the profession. One of the main goals of IDC is to increase membership numbers and to keep members satisfied, while considering ethics and members’ professional competence.
Regulatory bodies, or provincial associations, create practice standards, offer guidelines and conditions and impose penalties for misconduct– all in the name of public protection, a much-needed and valuable asset in our society.

IDC and the provincial associations both add value to practicing interior designers, but with different goals in mind – one serves the interests of its members as individuals and a collective, while the other holds its members accountable to the public. 

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