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Volunteer Engagement Program

Volunteer involvement is vital to the Royal College, Specialty Medical Education, Fellowship and, ultimately, patient care. The Royal College Volunteer Engagement Program (VEP) was established to strengthen and improve the support we provide to our backbone - Volunteers.

In October 2020, Council passed a motion resulting in the Royal College formally adopting the Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement (CCVI), a set of 10 nationally recognized standards and best practices for volunteer involvement, ranging from volunteer roles & recruitment to volunteer recognition. By adopting the CCVI, the Royal College is committing not only to strengthening our volunteer engagement strategy, but also to strengthening the Royal College’s capacity to meet its mandate and contribute to strong and connected communities.

The Fellowship Affairs Committee (FAC) are stewards of the VEP; they provide guidance and direction on the VEP’s plans and priorities, and in December 2020, supported the VEP’s three-year Roadmap, an action plan that operationalizes elements of the CCVI. This work will be implemented as part of the Royal College’s Member Engagement Strategy and progress updates will be provided here.

Want to join us in the journey? Learn how to get engaged as a volunteer.

Priority 1: Volunteer Involvement Standards, Governance and Action Plans

By 2023, all VEP plans and decisions will consistently consider the standards outlined in the Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement (CCVI), with a focus on the best practices that will enable more equitable access and diverse participation.

Issue Action plan & progress

There is a need to formally establish volunteer involvement standards so that individual volunteer contributions are meaningfully recognized as integral to delivering the Royal College’s mission.

We will work towards adoption of industry best practices for volunteer involvement and establish standard VEP measures that connect a Fellow’s motivations for volunteering with the Royal College’s mission.

Progress Update

  • In October 2020, Council passed a motion to formally adopt the the Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement (CCVI), Visit Volunteer Canada’s website to learn more about the CCVI and how its adoption can help organizations operationalize values of diversity, equity, inclusion and access into their policies, procedures and practices.
  • Next steps: A biannual VEP Pulse Check will be sent to all volunteers later this year. It will be used to benchmark important performance. Results will be shared on this page.
Issue Action plan & progress

The Royal College’s volunteer experience and available support varies by business unit and role.

We will adopt frameworks and plans that will streamline the volunteer involvement experience, with a focus on understanding and addressing issues of equitable access and diverse participation.

Progress Update

  • In December 2020, the Fellowship Affairs Committee, the stewards of the VEP, endorsed the VEP Roadmap and Key Performance Indicators (KPI). The VEP Roadmap is supported by Royal College leadership, who are committed to meeting its goals. This webpage will provide progress updates. Learn more about how the FAC supports the Royal College’s work.
Issue Action plan & progress

A Fellow’s ability to engage with the Royal College is determined by a combination of personal, institutional and social factors.

Experiences of discrimination, racism and historical trauma are important social determinants of health for certain groups such as Indigenous Peoples, LGBTQ and Black Canadians. Learn more about Canada’s definitions of social determinants of health and why this matters.

We will begin to understand and address barriers to equitable access and diverse participation within our VEP. We will make informed and meaningful change to our volunteer involvement processes, policies and practices.

Progress Update

  • Recent efforts to centralize record keeping have grown the Royal College’s estimated annual volunteer involvement from 3000 Fellows to more than 4000 Fellows volunteering in over 6000 volunteer roles. We expect a centralized volunteer database will be fully adopted by the end of 2021.
  • In December 2020 the FAC supported the development of engagement indicators that will be used to help us understand barriers to access and participation within the VEP. Ontario’s 42 Anti-Racism Data Standards will be used as a framework for data collection, analysis and use. A draft plan for will be presented to the FAC in June 2021.

Priority 2: Volunteer Orientation & Training

By 2023, volunteer orientation and training will be a learner-based model, with a focus on new volunteer orientation and supports for volunteers in leadership roles. Over time, we expect that Fellows will increasingly attribute personal or professional development to their Royal College volunteer experience.

Issue Action plan & progress

56.6% of volunteers are satisfied or very satisfied with the training & support they received.

About 20% of volunteers are asked to train or support other volunteers. Only half are satisfied with the support they receive to do so.

We will engage physicians in the creation of meaningful volunteer learning tools and resources. Focus on the volunteer experience and encourage community.

Progress Update

Issue Action plan & progress

Volunteers welcome an increased focus on equity, diversity and inclusion, so long as training and support is practical and resources are relevant. Recognize that many institutions are already providing this to Fellows.

We will embed volunteer training with practical, meaningful equity, diversity and inclusion support that’s appropriate to the individual and relevant to the volunteer role. We will focus on providing tools and support for those who we ask to identify or recruit volunteers.

Progress Update


  • Read our annual review to learn about our commitment to inclusion and advocacy, including providing training to volunteer leaders from the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI).
  • Next Steps: Volunteer Learning Planning Committee Recruitment will begin in spring 2021.

Priority 3: Volunteer Recruitment & Screening

By 2023, access to volunteer opportunities will start being more equitable, and participation more diverse. The depth and breadth of perspectives and knowledge that Fellows bring to their volunteer roles will start to show through the activities developed or informed by volunteers.

Issue Action plan & progress

We are committed to addressing valid concerns raised around equitable access and diverse participation in the Royal College’s volunteer activities.

We will build momentum and capacity so that changes made to the recruitment & screening process address issues of equitable access and diverse participation.

Progress Update


  • In June, we issued a statement on behalf of Council and staff committing the Royal College to address systemic racism in health care.
  • The Nominations Committee introduced a Diversity Monitor role into their selection process. Read more about the 2021 Council Elections.


  • Since 2015, Fellows interested in volunteering had been asked to fill out an online form. Internal analysis showed that these Fellows are unlikely to be contacted. In April 2021, the form was replaced with an overview of how to get engaged with the Royal College, including recruitment and contact information. Learn more on the Become a Volunteer webpage.
  • We’re examining the make-up of our current workforce and leadership team; recruitment and retention practices; organizational culture; and committee recruitment.

Next Steps

In 2021, the CCVI will help guide changes to the annual Committees of Council appointment process, this work will inform an organization-wide volunteer screening & recruitment needs analysis and action plan (2022/23).