Skip to main content
Specialty Committee

Information, Policies and Procedures


The Royal College establishes a specialty committee for each discipline it recognizes as a specialty or subspecialty by examination. Specialty committees advise the Royal College in matters related to the specialty or subspecialty. A specialty committee may also encompass an area of focused competence (AFC) and will therefore have its membership augmented to ensure appropriate representation.

Committee Structure:

The specialty committee consists of voting and non-voting members (please refer to the Terms of Reference for the specialty committees and the Basic Structure).


Voting members consist of up to nine members. They include the chair, chair-elect and/or vicechair(s), and one member selected to fairly represent each of the five geographical regions in Canada as specified in the bylaw (Bylaw No. 20, Article 11.1.2). The regions recognized by the Royal College are:

  • Region 1: British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon Territory, and the Northwest Territories;
  • Region 2: Saskatchewan and Manitoba;
  • Region 3: Ontario and Nunavut;
  • Region 4: Québec;
  • Region 5: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The chair-elect is appointed during the chairs’ last two-year term with the anticipation that they assume the responsibilities of chair at the end of the chairs’ mandate. The vice-chair is selected due to their expertise in the discipline and experience in the specialty committee’s business. The chairelect and/or vice-chair have additional responsibility to that of the other voting members in that they are expected to assume the responsibilities of the chair in the event that the chair cannot perform those responsibilities (for example when the program they are affiliated with is being surveyed or if they are unexpectedly unable to attend a meeting).

If a specialty committee chair’s term comes to an end during the time that the committee is engaged in Competence by Design (CBD) workshops and/or document development, the committee has the option of enacting a past-chair role. This allows the chair that is stepping down to continue on the committee for one additional two-year mandate to help facilitate continuity of CBD work.

In specialties where there is a related stream (e.g., pediatric), the vice-chair should represent the opposite stream from the chair (i.e. pediatric vice-chair if the chair is part of the adult stream). If this is not possible, a second vice-chair will be appointed to represent the related stream.

Committees are encouraged to include a community-based representative, if applicable, as a voting member. Preferably, one of the regional representatives could also be the community-based representative for the discipline.

Voting members are permitted to hold more than one position on the committee, for example the vice-chair can also be a regional representative or a regional representative can also be the community-based representative.


Non-voting members include the chair of the English and French Examination Board and chairs from the parent disciplines of a subspecialty or subspecialties of parent disciplines.

Residency program directors from each university with that specialty residency program are appointed as non-voting members. This may include program directors from residency programs in other countries that are accredited by the Royal College.

Furthermore, other non-voting members may be appointed to widen geographic representation, as additional related stream representatives, or as a resource for broadening consultation.

If the specialty committee also encompasses an area of focused competence (AFC-diploma), the non-voting members will include one representative who possesses specific clinical and educational expertise relevant to the AFC. For further information, please see the Terms of Reference for AFCs subcommittee.

The national specialty society (NSS) observer has a critical non-voting member position on the specialty committee. The purpose of this role is to ensure contact and communication is maintained between the society and the specialty committee as well as to ensure that meaningful NSS input is provided on various committee issues. One of the regional representatives can be appointed as the NSS observer. If this role cannot be filled by a current member, another representative from the society will be appointed as a non-voting observer. The chair of the committee is strongly encouraged to consult with the NSS when identifying an individual to fulfil this role.

The committee may wish to invite representatives from other related organizations to participate in committee business and ensure communication is maintained. This member would automatically become a non-voting member on the specialty committee and are usually selected by the group they represent after consultation with the chair of the specialty committee.

The specialty committee cannot include resident representatives.


If a specialty committee seeks an exception from the above described membership, they must send a request, in writing, to the manager, Specialty Support of the Specialties Unit, fully explaining the reason for their request.

Committee Appointments – Voting Members:


Specialty committee chairs, chairs-elect, vice-chairs and members are appointed by the Royal College. Specialty committees have a two-year mandate, which begins on the first of July. The maximum mandate any appointed voting member of a specialty committee may serve is three terms (for a total of six years). Appointments will not be automatically renewed. Approximately six months before the end of each appointment term, committees will be asked to look at their membership and propose any changes deemed appropriate. To ensure the involvement of all Fellows, mandates may be limited to one or two terms. The Royal College may appoint a new chair, chair-elect, vice-chair or member of a specialty committee at any time.


All appointees must:

  • Be a Royal College Fellow in good standing
  • Possess certification and clinical and educational expertise relevant to the specific specialty/subspecialty.

Residency program directors have a direct responsibility to their institution, program and trainees which may create a real, potential or perceived conflict with the performance of the responsibilities of a voting member on the specialty committee. Therefore, to avoid perceived or potential conflicts of interest, program directors cannot be voting members.


The appointment process of a new chair (chair-elect) will begin during the current chairs’ final mandate. The outgoing chair will be asked to consult their committee to obtain three nominations for the chair-elect. The nominations will also be solicited from the national specialty society, and professors’ group (if applicable). All three groups should ensure that the nominees will let their name stand if appointed. All nominations will be compiled, reviewed and ratified in the spring of the applicable appointment year by the Royal College. Once the appointment is accepted the appointee will assume the chair-elect role in the last two years of the current chair’s mandate so that continuity of committee activities is ensured and that there is sufficient time for the chair-elect to learn about the role and committee business. Ideally the chair-elect will serve one two-year term that overlaps with the outgoing committee chair’s final term of office. This overlap will be shortened as necessary if the outgoing chair ends their term sooner than expected.


Vice-chair and members’ nominations are to be discussed with the committee, the chair-elect, the national specialty society and with the relevant professors’ group (if applicable). The nominee’s interest must be confirmed before their name is submitted to the Office of Specialty Education. The membership list will be sent to the chair-elect (if applicable) for review and approval.


The Royal College approves all appointments of specialty committees and the Specialties Unit operationalizes the procedure. Appointments should be sufficiently staggered to ensure continuity in the work of the specialty committee.

Invitations to become a vice-chair and voting members of the specialty committee will be sent to the nominee, with copies to the current chair, chair-elect, the national specialty society and if applicable, to the professors’ group.

The Royal College may appoint a new chair, vice-chair or member of a specialty committee at any time.

Committee Appointments – Non-voting Members:

Some committees may have additional non-voting members to augment their regional, stream or related discipline representation.


Appointed non-voting members have the same two-year mandate renewable twice (maximum six years) as voting members.


These members are selected and appointed in the same manner as the voting members.

Membership by virtue of another appointment:


Certain non-voting members remain members of the specialty committee for the duration of their term appointment in the position they represent, e.g., chairs of related committees, examination board chairs, and program directors. To ensure the involvement of all Fellows, mandates may be limited to one or two terms.

Since non-voting members that represent other organizations (national specialty societies, or professors’ groups) are not appointed by the Royal College, their term of office does not necessarily follow the two-year mandate or the maximum of six years.


Non-voting members representing the English and French examination boards are appointed by the Royal College upon the recommendation of the chair of the specialty committee. The administrative process for these appointments is the responsibility of the Exams Unit.

Program directors are appointed by the universities and as soon as the Royal College is notified by the Office of the Postgraduate Dean, the person is added to the committee membership. The Office of Specialty Education automatically sends an information package to the new program director. This includes program directors of international programs within the specialty accredited by the Royal College.

If the specialty committee also encompasses an AFC, the non-voting members will include one individual to represent each related AFC. The current chair (and the chair-elect if applicable) are consulted on this nomination. Current members of the committee, as well as the national specialty society and if applicable, the professors’ group, may be consulted. The nominees must be Fellows in good standing and must agree to let their name stand if nominated.

Mode of Functioning:

Specialty committee deliberations are conducted by correspondence, in-person and virtual meetings. The following guidelines will allow the Specialties Unit to better assist the committees:


Most matters on which the advice of a specialty committee is sought are conducted by correspondence with voting members. The chair of the specialty committee is required to ensure that non-voting members are kept informed and that their views are solicited on topics under discussion when appropriate.


A meeting of the full committee, including voting and non-voting members must take place at least once each year. Chairs are responsible for consulting with Specialties Unit staff and their members before determining a date for their specialty committee meetings. In-person meetings must be confirmed by the chair at least three months in advance to allow adequate time for the Specialties Unit and committee members to make the necessary arrangements.

Reimbursement for attendance at specialty committee meetings is guided by the Specialty Committee policy on Reimbursement of Expenses. As per Council Resolution 90-091 which states “that the expenses for representatives from outside organizations participating in Royal College activities be borne by the organization they represent,” the Royal College does not fund all nonvoting members for attendance at specialty committee meetings (for further information, please refer to Policy on Reimbursement of Expenses).


The chair of the specialty committee may also book a virtual meeting via a teleconference or web conference for a full committee meeting or to discuss specific items of business between meetings. Virtual meetings must be confirmed by the chair at least four weeks’ notice to allow adequate time for the Specialties Unit and committee members to make the necessary arrangements.

Support to Specialty Committees:


The Specialties Unit will assist the chair with agenda preparation by advising on matters of general importance requiring comment from specialty committees, and recent discussions, decision and policy statements of Royal College committees. The Specialties Unit must receive the agenda items from the chair at least four weeks before the meeting to allow time to finalize and distribute the agenda and its attachments to the members.


When meetings are held at the Royal College, one or more members of the Office of Specialty Education staff may attend specialty committee meetings to provide background information, expert opinion, and advice on Royal College policies and procedures. Every effort will be made to provide support in person or by telephone when committee meetings are held outside of the Royal College.


Specialties Unit staff will prepare minutes of all regular meetings of specialty committees. When possible, they may also assist with the recording or preparation of minutes of other meetings of the committee or subcommittees. In the event that staff are unable to assist, this task will have to be assumed by the chair of the committee or a committee member designated to do so. All specialty committee minutes are reviewed by the Committee on Specialties and must clearly reflect the committee’s discussions and decisions. The Specialties Unit will distribute the minutes, along with relevant attachments and informational material, to committee members (voting and non-voting members), members of the Committee on Specialties, and to the president of the National Specialty Society, and their headquarters. Our goal is that minutes are finalized by the Specialties Unit within two months of the meeting.


The Specialties Unit will, at the request of the chair, mail/e-mail letters, reports or other documents to members of the specialty committee; and if appropriate, receive and collate committee members’ responses for transmission to the chair.